Practical experience & Part 3

The Part 3 is the final examination to qualify as an architect, and entitles successful candidates to register with the Architect Registration Board (ARB), to use the title 'architect' and to join the RIBA as a Chartered Member.

The RIBA Examination in Professional Practice and Management (Part 3) assesses applied professional knowledge, skill and judgement - and students' professional experience is a vital element which is considered very carefully at this stage by professional examiners. 

The RIBA electronic Professional Experience and Development Resource contains a wealth of information on professional experience and includes guides for students, professional studies advisors and employers. It also has an area where students can keep an online record of their experience, the output of which is a required element of Part 3.

RIBA practical experience eligibility criteria:

Candidates for the RIBA Part 3 oral examination stage should have recently completed a minimum of 24 months' practical experience under the direct supervision of a professional working in the construction industry, which should include at least 12 months working in the EEA, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, under the direct supervision of an architect. 

Practical training record (PEDR) categories of experience:

Experience of architectural practice in the UK, EEA, Channel Islands or Isle of Man, under the direct supervision of an architect either registered with the Architects Registration Board or registered within the territory where the experience is being undertaken.

  • Experience of architectural practice in any other location, under the direct supervision of an architect registered within the territory where the experience is being undertaken.

  • Experience within the construction industry under the supervision of a qualified professional within the relevant field.  

RIBA/ARB definitions:

  • Months: these will be calendar months of full time working (at least 20 hours a week). Reasonable time off for holidays and illness may be included in this period. (Where the work is less than 20 hours per week, applicants will be expected to complete a commensurately longer period of experience).

  • Practical experience: experience that consists of activities that would typically be undertaken by an architect in practice. (The Part 3 Criteria are helpful in setting out in broad terms, some of the activities which are likely to be required to be undertaken).

  • Recently: at least 12 of the 24 months' experience should have been undertaken in the two years immediately before taking the Part 3 exam.

  • Direct supervision: the person supervising should have responsibility for and control over the work being undertaken.

  • Professional working in the construction industry: will be an architect registered in the territory where the experience is being undertaken or a chartered or similarly qualified member of an appropriate professional body. The 'construction industry' will include qualified professionals typically involved in the procurement, design and management of the built environment.  

RIBA guidance note on the application of the regulation

The RIBA and the ARB will share in common the main practical experience regulation (ARB Rule 13b) and a set of definitions that underpins this. The usage of the regulation will vary between the two bodies: the RIBA will use it for the purposes of admittance to the oral examination stage of the Part 3; whereas the ARB will use it for the purposes of admittance to the Register.

Each body will issue a guidance note and set of frequently asked questions, which will mirror that of the other body where possible, though there may be some slight difference in emphasis.

While the RIBA practical experience regulations state that candidates for the RIBA Part 3 oral examination stage should have undertaken a minimum of 12 months' work experience in the EEA (including the UK), the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man under the supervision of an architect, candidates should note that the UK's Part 3 qualification tests UK practice and law. Practical experience is an integral element of the Part 3 qualification, and is important in assisting individuals to meet the Part 3 Criteria, against which all Part 3 candidates are assessed.  

It is therefore recommended that candidates undertake a minimum of 12 months' experience within the UK, as those whose experience lies solely outside the UK may find it difficult to meet the required level of knowledge and skill.

Candidates must be mentored during their practical experience. A definition of 'direct supervision' has been provided, but essentially, the employment mentor should have control over and take responsibility for the work being undertaken. Typically, the candidate and the mentor will be employed by the same organisation, but where the relationship is not typical, they will need to satisfy their professional studies advisor (PSA) that the level and type of supervision is appropriate.

While it is acceptable for any professional who is working within the construction industry (as defined above) to supervise up to 12 months of the experience, a registered architect is likely to be in the best position to assist a candidate in acquiring the required levels of skill and knowledge.

The practical experience regulation sets out the requirement for admittance to the oral examination stage of the RIBA Part 3 examination in the UK. Candidates may find that schools and Part 3 providers have additional requirements for entry to courses and for examination purposes. In the first instance they should discuss any queries with their PSA who will be able to advise them about the suitability of a placement and whether it is likely to satisfy the practical experience regulation. 

Part 3 Course Details, Criteria and Requirements

A list of currently validated Part 3 courses is available on our  PEDR website

The Part 3 criteria and requirements for RIBA Part 3 course validation can be found within the  RIBA Procedures for Validation .

Eligibility to undertake the RIBA Part 3 Examination

Admission to an RIBA validated Part 3 course is restricted to candidates who:

  •  hold UK RIBA validated qualifications at Part 1 and at Part 2, or

  •  hold international RIBA validated qualifications equivalent to Part 1 and Part 2, or

  •  have completed the ARB Prescribed Examination at Part 1 and/or Part 2, or

  •  any combination of the above.  

Candidates who have completed the appropriate qualification/s listed under Annex V or Annex VI of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC) may also be admitted to a Part 3 course. 

Applicants for Part 3 with international RIBA qualifications or EU qualifications are advised to contact the  ARB  to discuss their eligibility for the ARB Prescribed Examination at Part 1 and Part 2 prior to joining a Part 3 course, as this could affect their ability to register as an architect in the UK.  

These requirements are effective from 1 September 2012.