A Middlesex University masters' course in digital architecture was validated last week and will enrol its first students in the autumn term.
"This is a one-year full-time post-professional degree," said programme leader Sarah Chaplin. "Its main appeal will be to architects, designers and computer specialists."
Students will learn how digital technology can help them produce drawings, estimate quantities and costs, and collaborate with distant colleagues. Besides practical training the course will have elements of technical, cultural and critical theory.
A typical student might be an architect aged 35-plus who is running a practice but whose knowledge of digital technology is sketchy. Ms Chaplin said the course would also be useful to people who trained as computer aided design technicians and are now perhaps running a CAD studio, but "who have an insufficient overview of the technology and where it is going".
The course, which is offered by the university's art and design school, could be the first step towards recognition by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the establishment of a school of architecture at Middlesex.
"Within a year we plan to add modules to create a diploma course," Ms Chaplin said. "The third stage would be the introduction of a bachelor's degree in architecture in about the year 2000."
The way ahead will depend on the outcome of RIBA's review of architectural education, which might replace the postgraduate diploma with an American-style MArch. Ms Chaplin, who is an architect and a member of the RIBA education board, said: "I would like Middlesex to be a testing ground for the RIBA's proposals, because we can implement them from scratch."
An open evening for this and other Centre for Electronic Arts courses will be held at Middlesex University's Cat Hill campus from 4.30 to 7.00 pm on June 17. For information call Jo Purcell, 0181 362 5041.