International student Aniekan shares his experience on the MSc Architectural Technology & Building Performance course at Edinburgh Napier

I completed my first degree in 2017 studying Architecture (B.Arch.) in Ghana

After my studies, I got a job in a local architectural firm where I worked for a year before returning to Nigeria to participate in my national service to my country. During my national service year, I worked in a reputable architectural and construction company in the city of Port Harcourt. Through this, I gained over two years of work experience in my field. 

“I’ve always had an interest in architecture and building design” 

My parents have always been supportive of me getting a postgraduate degree and this was my primary motivation. Besides, I wanted to build on my existing knowledge of architecture specifically on the technical aspects of building design.

The range of modules offered at Edinburgh Napier is what attracted me to study this course. I knew it would allow me to further develop as an architect and build on my knowledge in key areas such as building energy performance and sustainable building design, building acoustic performance and timber architectural design and technology. 

Class trips and design projects enhance the overall learning experienceAniekan Abasiekong

I have particularly enjoyed modules such as sustainable building design, timber architectural design and technology, building energy performance and the final project which involved designing a new visitor centre and retrofitting an existing officer’s quarters at the Blackness Castle site.  

In addition, a visit to the Engine shed located in Stirling was one of my favourite trips of this course as I got to experience a Cross Laminated Timber constructed building which was cladded with zinc. I was fascinated with the building and how it came together, and this inspired the construction methodology for my final project.

Studying at Edinburgh Napier University has enabled me to grow as an academic writer because of the workshops which were organised to help me sharpen my academic writing skills. I have learnt how to effectively carry out research, and I have been given the required resources to get relevant information. I have also had the opportunity to visit different sites related to the modules I studied which grounds the practical aspects of the course.

“Being the class Rep gave me much-needed leadership experience” 

I was the course rep for my class, and this exposed me to how things are done within the university as a whole. It ensured I thought not only of myself but also of my colleagues and gave me experience in leadership. 

Challenges turned into an opportunity  

Being an international student, one of the challenges for me was adapting to a new climate and way of living. Also, designing with timber and the construction methodology in the UK is quite different compared to that in Africa. These challenges were opportunities for me to experience a new culture as well as learn a new way of design and construction.

International student support and funding

The international student hardship fund was very helpful during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was unable to access money in my Nigerian account to pay off my fees and rent. The staff at Edinburgh Napier assisted me during this period and I was able to pay off my fees. This was a very challenging period for me but the university was very understanding and patient with the whole process. I am very grateful for this. 

Transitioning from undergraduate to postgraduate study 

The transition between my undergraduate and postgraduate course was very seamless as I was just out of my undergraduate course for two years, so it was much easier for me to hit the ground running with academic work. 

“Edinburgh is a beautiful city and a very peaceful place” 

It has been a nice experience living and studying in Edinburgh. You can tell that there is a rich history here with the old buildings, castles, and museums. Going for walks in the summer and visits to the museums and some landmarks are certainly a thrill. 

“The course adds to your knowledge as an architect or whatever field you are coming from and gives you an added advantage.”

I would recommend the course to anyone willing to learn more about sustainability, energy performance, timber design and building acoustics. The course adds to your knowledge as an architect or whatever field you are coming from and gives you an added advantage. 

Be open-minded and ready to learn because a closed mind will certainly not appreciate new information. In addition, you must be committed to researching, be inquisitive and have a passion for the course. 

For my next step, I plan on taking up a job as an Architectural Technologist in a firm or I hope to do a PhD in architecture in the nearest future.

Aniekan's Project


Officers Quarters Refurbishment & New Visitor Centre

Blackness Castle
The idea was to design a Visitor Centre that acts as an entrance to blackness castle whiles taking advantage of the view towards the sea. A sympathetic approach was taken with the location of the Visitor Centre within the site. In addition, the method of construction and materials were chosen with a lot of consideration to net zero carbon emissions.
CLT columns and Glulam beams
Walls (U-value) 0.10 w/m2 K
Floor (U-value) 0.18 w/m2 K
Roof (U-value) 0.09 w/m2 K
Accoya FSC cladding
Prefa zinc cladding
Western red cedar cladding
Resin floor finish