Degree and title: Master of Science ETH in Landscape Architecture (MSc ETH LA)
We aim to train a new generation of landscape architects, grounded in the discipline and design, equipped with the knowledge and inventiveness to shape its future. Graduates are trained to work through different cultures and contexts in complex systems across a range of scales – from the design of a place to adaptive management at regional scales. They will learn respond to existing urban and peri-urban conditions in order to develop creative, rigorous and technically sophisticated design strategies in collaboration with other disciplines
Our graduates will have a unique profile; combining a high level of technical acumen with the desire to push the boundaries of the discipline and develop innovative research topics with a mix of local and global scope. The program welcomes students interested in design with a diversity of experiences and backgrounds. It will cultivates a culture of open discussion and engagement, experimentation and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Through rigorous training, the program will prepares graduates to become leaders in practice, and other future-oriented fields. They will learn skills and iterative methods to collaborate on multidisciplinary projects and design better, more resilient landscapes and public spaces.
The program starts with three chairs of landscape architecture: Prof. Teresa Galí-Izard, Prof. Christophe Girot and Prof. Günther Vogt at the Institute for Landscape and Urban Studies at the ETH Department of Architecture. These professors, distinguished practitioners and academics, teach core elements of the discipline and design.
Our students benefit from established relationships between ETH departments and institutes by promoting studies and research with other professors of the Department of Architecture (D-ARCH); the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (D-BAUG); the Department of Environmental Systems Sciences (D-USYS); the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (D-GESS) and the Department of Management, Technology and Economics (D-MTEC) who all contribute to the program and provide expertise in technology, natural sciences, humanities and economics.
This two-year Master of Science program in Landscape Architecture teaches design, analysis, planning, and construction through a mix of methodologies that combines classical competences – the “handcraft” of landscape architecture – with a high degree of digital innovation, creativity and rigor. Students will be trained to analyze critically the history, culture and ecology of a site, and will help to form the foundation for an ethically and ecologically grounded practice, integrating their design philosophy with living systems, topology, management and materials. Building on this core training, over the course of the program students will develop their research agendas spanning from the art, humanities to the natural sciences. They will be encouraged to push the discipline into new territories of investigation. The combination of foundational training in the discipline of landscape architecture and the support for independent research is designed to deepen and complement a Bachelor’s degree in architecture.
The use of innovative digital methodologies for analysis, design, modeling and planning is an essential part of the program. Students will benefit from established institutions such as the Landscape Visualization and Modeling Lab (LVML), an internationally recognized center for digital 3D landscape visualization and GIS modeling, and the AudioVisual Lab (AV Lab), a cooperation platform that exists between D-ARCH and D-BAUG.
The structure of the program emphasizes a collaborative learning environment that allows for individual interests and customization. The master-thesis is dealt as a studio on a shared site, where each student will be able to develop his or her area of interest. The limited number of participants guarantees individual access to faculty and thus a very high quality of training and supervision.
The Master’s degree program in Landscape Architecture is full-time, and lasts four semesters plus six months for the required internship. The lessons are held in English or German.
The program is structured into fundamental, core and specialized courses, seminar weeks, and design studios. Complementary to these courses, the students choose a ‘science in perspective’ course that contextualizes the scientific knowledge and technologies of the program. The linking of subject-specific teaching contents with each other and their integration into the design studios is a central principle of the program.
The focus semester links the fundamental courses with the design lessons and creates a strong foundation for the following semesters. The design studios address pressing issues at a diversity of scales, from the hyper-local, to the regional and the global. The program concludes with a masters thesis project on an original and relevant research topic.
In order to obtain the Master’s degree, students must have earned 120 ECTS credits in the following course categories: fundamental, core and specialized courses, design studios, seminar week, science in perspective, internship and internship report, master thesis. Learn more about the study guidelines here.
Duration & Volume: 4 semesters + 6 months internship, full-time, 120 ECTS
Fundamental Courses: The fundamental courses impart basic knowledge in landscape architecture. This includes skills of the scientific subjects botany, soil science, hydrology and climatology, and of the humanities subjects history and theory of landscape architecture, and ethics. Building on this, basic knowledge about designing with plants, materials and construction is imparted. The fundamental courses create the basis for the following semesters, taking into account the previous professional education of the students with a Bachelor’s degree in architecture. The knowledge is conveyed in lectures and exercises. The focus is on fundamental courses that are linked to Foundation Studio I in terms of content and method. All basic subjects are obligatory.
Design Studios: The design studios deal with problem- and practice-related tasks at local, regional, supra-regional, national and international scales.
Core Courses: The core courses impart basic, broad knowledge in the core areas of landscape architecture in relation to design. This includes skills about design elements, materials, construction techniques, designing with plants, law, moderation, urban ecology and other relevant subjects. The core courses are partly obligatory and partly optional.
Specialized Courses: The specialized courses are optional and offer students the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge in specific areas of landscape architecture.
Seminar Weeks: The D-ARCH organizes one-week seminar weeks for all students each semester. Using examples of closely rewritten questions, on the one hand specialist knowledge is expanded, on the other hand the understanding of knowledge and areas of life in the environment of landscape architecture is deepened. At least one seminar week must be completed in the Master’s program.
Science in Perspective: The study program Science in Perspective enables students at ETH Zurich to develop new perspectives on their core courses about scientific and technological issues. It will examine, through seminars and lectures, the historical, moral, epistemological, legal, economic and political contexts without which science and technology would not be possible.
Internship and Report: Part of the curriculum is a six-month internship in landscape architecture, i.e. in a project planning and implementation office, public institutions or related areas. At least three months of this must be completed without interruption at the same location. The internship can only be completed when Fundamental Studios I + II have been passed (i.e. internship after the second semester of the curriculum). Internship prior to the Master’s program are not accounted for.
The internship should include as many work phases as possible in the activity of a landscape architect. The students prepare an internship report which documents their achievements and reflects their learning success.
Master’s Thesis Studio: The Master’s thesis is the completion of the study program. It is intended to demonstrate the students‘ ability to design their own work and is proof of the successful completion of their studies. The students develop a solution to a problem- and practice-oriented task in the field of landscape architecture. All students will share a common site and region, that they will address at a scale of their choice. The Master’s thesis is headed by professors of the D-ARCH. It takes 14 weeks to complete.
ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities for technology and the natural sciences.
It is known for the excellent education it provides, its pioneering fundamental research and for the way its new findings are transferred directly into practical applications.