Course Exam—APST 340

APST 340 (Advanced Structures) is a three-credit, upper-level architecture course that will familiarize the student with the detailed considerations of structural design, including quantitative load, stress and strain analysis, structural member design, and most importantly, the requirements set by the codes on design and construction of different types of structures.  The scope of this course includes the qualitative and quantitative design of structural systems in steel, wood, concrete and masonry.

APST 340 is intended for students who are enrolled in the BSc (Architecture) program at the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University.  This course has two prerequisites, which include APST 240 (Introduction to Structures) and ADST 350 (Foundations of Architectural Design: Simple Habitat), and this course will contribute to the RAIC Syllabus Diploma if you are a student interested in pursuing a career as a registered architect.

Advanced Structures is made up of five core parts (which contain nineteen units), three assignments weighing ten percent, two assignments weighing fifteen percent, and one assignment, a project, that is worth forty percent.  Each assignment is based around each of the five parts of the course and then there is a final project that covers the entire course.  Students must receive fifty percent on the final project and must achieve a cumulative grade of at least sixty-seven percent to receive credit for APST 340.

The academic expert for this course is Mr. Philip Kwan, a civil engineer based in Toronto.

Dr. Henry Tsang has been the course coordinator for APST 340 since April 2018.  He states, “Born and raised in Montreal, I am a registered architect, member of the Order of Architects of Quebec, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and certified as a LEED Green Associate and WELL Accredited Professional.  I studied architecture at McGill University and hold a Ph.D.  from the University of Tokyo in Japan.  I practiced as an architect at the Japanese design firm Nihon Sekkei; and as an educator & researcher, I’m interested in the design of green and healthy buildings.  I joined AU in April 2017 teaching the technical stream courses at the RAIC Centre for Architecture.  Otherwise, I’ve presented on TEDx, United Nations, and universities worldwide; I am currently a visiting architecture professor at Keimyung University in South Korea.  In my spare time, I like to travel, and my job at AU allows me to be flexible and work anywhere in the world.  I like to learn new languages, I speak English, French, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.”

Aside from APST 340, Dr. Henry Tsang coordinates APST 230 (Materials, Properties, and Applications), APST 240 (Introduction to Structures) which is currently closed for revisions and the graduate courses ARCH 525 (Architectural Design: Lighting), ARCH 526 (Architectural Design: Acoustics), ARCH 645 (Architectural Practice in Canada), and ARCH 655 (Architectural Practice Management).  If you are interested in learning more about APST 230, read my Course Exam Article!

Dr. Tsang continues, “The evaluation of the course consists of six assignments.  Assignments one to five are worth ten to fifteen percent and are essay type questions.  Each assignment’s length is approximately two-thousand words (eight pages) or twenty questions with some calculations.  The sixth assignment (final project) is worth forty percent and covers the entire content of the course; there is no final exam.  A cumulative grade of sixty-seven percent is required to pass for this course.”

So what’s the best way to approach APST 340?  Dr. Tsang tells us that “To be successful in this course, students should be diligent with the readings and work on the assignments soon after every unit.  Reading through the questions before the readings may also be useful, as many of the answers will be found along the way.  Students are expected to dedicate about nine hours per week to stay on track.  There is also a lot of content requiring calculations and understanding diagrams, some parts may be a bit abstract and difficult to understand, so communicating with your tutor as needed is highly suggested.  There are also many open educational resources on the department’s website that are designed to assist students in this course, and you can find a listing of some of these publications on the RAIC site at”

When asked what he thinks students will take away from this course, he states “At the completion of APST 340 the student will be able to design basic structural components in compliance with design codes and regulations within the scope of the practice of architecture.  However, since the course cannot cover every subject and detail of the codes and the codes are also modified from time to time, the student should consult the codes directly for details and updates.”

And what do you need to watch out for? According to Dr. Tsang, the tasks in the course that students struggle most with are, “Calculations, visualizing and drawing structural diagrams, and reading/understanding building design codes.”

Whether APST 340 is a program requirement of yours or the content discussed in this course are of interest to you, this course will have you learning the detailed considerations of structural design!

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