MAUD Survival Tips

This is a page about the most important things in the life of a urban design student. Let’s talk about time spent in the studio and outside as well. How do we deal with stress and what is the highlight of a student’s day? We can all agree that it is food. Where are the best meal deals and what are the opening hours of groceries?

The Zeigarnik Effect

by Sarah Muscat

The name of it is worrying, but what is even worse is the fact that most of us felt this throughout this year!

Here is the definition…

“This is the desire to complete one task before beginning another. There is a pronounced psychological need in most of us for completion: we do not like to drop one project in midstream and begin another. This effect explains why some people especially resist interruptions, why some people work after hours to finish a task before going home, and why some people have difficulty simultaneously handling multiple, protracted projects.”

The remedy….

Organize tasks around breaks such as lunch, (in Vlad’s case – smoking time), etc. It may sound easy, but ‘organizing the tasks’ itself is quite an elaborate process, with plenty of unpredictable things happening around you!

However if you give yourself the reasonable time, taking into consideration what is expected of you and what could go wrong…YOU WILL MANAGE!


Phrases like ‘Oh no, a problem!’; ‘It can’t be done’; ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I can’t be asked’ are creativity killers and would block you from reaching your best potential.

13 Erasmus tips

As an Erasmus student coming to Newcastle you might find this information useful…well more or less

By Vlad

  1. You have two weeks to chose your modules. Attend the first lectures of each module and then decide according to your interest which ones you want to sign in for
  2. 10 English credits equals 5ECTS so don’t get an illusion of an easy year
  3. Choose your favourite fruit or vegetable  for each week, carrot is good for eyes
  4. Choose your spot in the studio and mark it- rat corner is appropriate, however sun is annoying
  5. Don’t leave your food for too long in the locker (you may not be the first one to notice).There is a fridge downstairs. Take a deep breath before opening!
  6. Being an Erasmus does not give you an excuse to less work
  7. 8 chairs are good enough for a comfortable short nap – don’t forget a sign: do not disturb
  8. If you find a stress ball by any chance in the studio return it back to us, we still need it!
  9. Always bring your own headphones to the studio, otherwise you can get a killing mood after 20 hours listening to someone else’ music
  10. If you sign up for design studios, gold membership in the gym is useless for you
  11. Smoking breaks are very refreshing, even when you don’t smoke
  12. All computers shut down at 5am and you have 10secs to save your work
  13. If possible, extend your Erasmus agreement from one semester to one whole year…it’s definitely worth it!

A day of the life in Architecture Studio ;

by Siham Saleh

This following picture shows some of our different situations during the day;


-I apologize for putting some student’s pictures without asking them.

-Unfortunately, I did not have any pictures of eating time!!!

My experience

My experience with daily condition in the studio, start at the beginning of this semester, it was quite difficult for me to communicate with other students, especially; all of us were come from different background and have different culture and languages. However, as a result of spending long time on the place, also work condition in the group, my fear of dealing with others starts to disappear and I adopt the various cultures. So, I think working in the place is directly connected with its atmosphere and the other people who work with.

One of my extraordinary events in my memory through staying there is that, one night while we were preparing our submission of the project. Me and two other students start to talk with each other by our own languages, it was really memorial case that I cannot forget it. To sum up, although the stress and hard time that we had faced, we share nice feeling; laugh and happiness, we start to have a relationship. Personally, a study life is a part of social life.

The 10 commandments of an urban designer

Some personal reflection on how the studio may effect your life and how the studio = life!!

By Harvé Dhillon

  1. Your flatmates text you at two in the morning after not seeing you for three weeks genuinely concerned as to whether you are alive and are considering to file a missing persons report
  2. You are only ever at your flat to shower and then go back to the studio
  3. You don’t ever see natural light
  4. Eating becomes the highlight of your day
  5. You eat all three meals or one legitimate meal in the studio
  6. Your locker consists of food supplies, model material and overdue books which you have not returned to the Robinson Library as you nevcr leave
  7. You lose sanity laughing for no reason, singing songs which do not make sense and converse in three languages in one sentence all of which nobody understand
  8. You have nicknames for people you see at the studio all the time but have not spoken to as you have forgotten how to socially interact
  9. You construct a temporary bed with the chairs in the studio and take a ten minute nap (if you get lucky) to motivate yourself to do more work
  10. You phase out whilst working only to realise you are still in the studio and the next crit is only a few hours away…

6 Trivial Tips for Urban Design Project work

By Jun

I am also putting my survival tips, trivial but useful, for urban design project

1. Get a locker in the studio

You would probably spend more time in the studio than anywhere else in the town during the semester. Better to have space for keeping your books, files of documents and food supply for survival. Some said even ‘don’t bother to get a room!’

2. Start filing documents and drawings right away

Loads of documents and sketches pile up quickly. You wouldn’t want to waste your time looking for a piece of paper in the mess.

3. Try not to drop your pin box on the floor

The studio floor is carpeted like the bathroom(!) in my flat(I thought it could be a common practice in the UK, but Lizzie told me that it is unusual to have a bathroom carpeted even in this carpet loving country). It takes forever to pick up hundreds of pins from the carpeted floor.

4. Think again before choosing solid cardboard for your study model

It can be a painful job to modify or mend your contour model when it is made of sturdy cardboards and it becomes a very heavy one difficult to carry around between the studio and the crit place (Believe me, it’s far and sometimes dangerous in snowed streets). Also, the smudge from laser-cut cardboards gets out of control instantly.

5. It’s ok to hate your partner, sometimes.

Because, possibly, you are sometimes hated by your partner too! You can always go to Hancock’s after your hectic presentation with (or without) your partner and have some fun. However, do not try to drink your Slovakian medicine drink at Hancock’s. It’s not allowed.

6. Finish your work before midnight

Humans need some sleep. Otherwise, you wouldn’t remember what you said and what happened during the presentation. (But, it’s so difficult, isn’t it? Would it be helpful if I learn volley ball, Carlie?)

I’m a Planner Get Me Out of Here!!!  5 Top Tips for Studio Survival

By Lizzie Bird

Before starting the course I remember being told that the MAUD at Newcastle has ‘a strong studio culture’.   Coming from a planning background I had little experience of what this meant (at an undergraduate I resorted to painting a model in the corridors of Claremont Tower). Eager to understand more, having secretly  always been a bit jealous of the architects in their swanky Quadrangle studios, the first term began with studio modules  ARC8063 Urban Design Project one and TCP8032 Communications Techniques & Approaches aiming  to develop design and graphic skills.  Thrown in at the deep end, surrounded by experienced architects, I think my reaction after the first week was – I’m a Planner Get Me Out of Here!  However as the term progressed, my initial panic subsided, I started to to adapt to studio life and even started to…enjoy it?!

So if like me your thinking of doing the MAUD but you don’t know a Crit from CAD or Plotting from Photoshop here are some simple tips for studio survival.  Although not rocket science these are things I have learnt through the 10 weeks and wish someone had said to me at the beginning of term (but please note the WARNING! below).

5 Top Tips for Studio Survival

1. Give yourself time: Don’t put stuff off because you think you can’t/don’t know how to do it. When you’re learning things take longer and everything- Models, Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketching, arranging photo’s, Sketch UP, finding precedents- you name it, everything ALWAYS takes longer that you think.

2. Don’t compare but do what you can do well: Remember that architects have been training for 3-5 years and have perfected their drawing/computer skills and tend to have more experience. Remember that’s OK.  Just as long as week on week you’re building up your own skills and remember to keep drawing on your own previous experience/knowledge you have – it will all be relevant.  

3. Try, Try and Try again (i.e. Do NOT give up): If you get stuck just keep on trying there will be a way round the problem and  you always remember how to do something more if you do it yourself (for  Photoshop and other software Google is your friend).  

4.  Don’t be afraid to ask: When you really do get stuck do ask for help. The tutors and others on the course are usually really willing to help.

5. Find inspirational music: ‘I will survive’ is a gem (see video above).  Good ol’ Gloria.  

WARNING! You know you’ve been working in the studio for too long and should probably leave/plan your escape when:

  • You know the exact opening/closing times of M&S;
  • Percy Pigs make you happy;
  • You get excited by the thought of going to compulsory lectures & seminars;
  • You’ve eaten your way through your supply of portable and non perishable food (and/or you can’t find Vlado);
  • You’ve gone days without sunlight/sleep;
  • You have listened to every song on your ipod. Twice;
  • You laugh but you don’t really know why your laughing;
  • You want to write an essay;
  • You talk about turning the Sage into a playground as if could happen;
  • The only building on campus with the lights still on is the architecture studio;
  • You have to ask other students to give you wake up calls;
  • Certain songs remind you of being in the studio (basically Carlie’s playlist…);
  • You keep a sledge in the studio;
  • When you cut yourself on a knife and your only worry is whether you’ll be able to finish the model;
  • It’s fun to throw clay at the walls;
  • You’ve forgotten what home looks like.


Useful Urban Design Links

by Lizzie Bird

As everyone might have seen I’ve added a new category to our links section – Useful Urban Design Links. I’ve included 4 useful websites – CABE, Northern Architecture, PPS and the Urban Design Group.  These websites offer discussion around the principles and practice of urban design and include some really good case studies/precedents which are always useful. What does everyone think?  I thought it could be really helpful if we all add more links plus it makes the blog more interactive.

MAUD Survival Tips

The MA in Urban Design is an intensive but very enjoyable and stimulating 12 month course. During this course, there might be periods of more stress for many students, around submission dates but also the general pace of the course does not allow for much downtime. Different people deal with stress differently, others thrive on it, others just don’t get stressed, others are mildly impacted but for some it might become a real problem which can exacerbate other problems they may already be facing. Click on this link for advice on how to cope and what support is there for you from Newcastle University. Remember that above all, the most important thing is your health and wellbeing.


by siham saleh

this picture is just to reperesent our feeling at different moments during  our course in humorous way. So i would like to share this funny picture with you! feel free to  make your comment !!!!!



2 responses

6 01 2011

Love your warning part! Lizzie

1 02 2011
Christoph Oschatz

These make me chuckle – wonderful!

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