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Core curriculum topic: Architecture for social purpose

To help you gain the skills you need to practise architecture now and in the future as a RIBA Chartered Member, we have defined 10 mandatory core curriculum topics to address through CPD.

The topic Architecture for social purpose helps you understand the social value, economic, and social benefits architecture brings for individuals. The topic covers improving life changes, social identity, cohesion, and wellbeing. It also addresses having the knowledge and skills to make informed, fair, and ethical choices and influence the project team and supply chain.

Architecture for Social Purpose (including RIBA Ethical Practice Knowledge Schedule *)

This competency potentially covers:


The positive impact of architecture and the social value and economic and environmental benefits it brings for individuals and communities – improving life chances, social identity and cohesion, and well-being. (In light of the growing focus on ethical practice and professionalism, this knowledge schedule aims to be a framework for the exploration of ethical thinking, reasoning and decision making within architecture and architectural practice, and collects the issues that RIBA Chartered Architects will be expected to understand under the RIBA mandatory competence in Ethical Practice.)

*Ethics in practice

  • History and definitions
  • Recognising an ethical issue
  • Virtue Ethics / Social Contract Ethics / Duty Ethics / Utilitarian Ethics
  • Defining behaviours - Codes, Regulations, Sanctions and Best Practice
  • The Public Interest - How it is defined and who is responsible
  • The six duties

*Duty to oneself

  • The Codes of Conduct and Practice
  • Principles and values
  • Competence
  • Continuing Professional Development
  • Pro Bono work
  • Corruption

*Duty to the profession

  • The Codes of Conduct and Practice
  • Reputation and Value
  • Respecting previous appointments
  • Copyright and Credit
  • Whistleblowing
  • Research, POE and Building Performance
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (including the RIBA Inclusion Charter) (see note below)

*Duty to those in the workplace

  • Employment Law
  • The Codes of Conduct and Practice
  • Company culture
  • Respecting colleagues
  • Managing practice
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (including the RIBA EDI Policy Guide)

*Duty to those commissioning services

  • The Codes of Conduct and Practice
  • Lay clients
  • Experienced private clients
  • Public Sector clients
  • Confidentiality

*Duty to society and the end-user

  • Building Regs, Housing Standards and Planning Policy
  • The Codes of Conduct and Practice
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (including bias and discrimination)
  • Health and safety
  • Modern Slavery
  • Community Engagement & Regeneration
  • Social Value and Social Responsibility
  • Rights of Future Generations

*Duty to the wider world

  • The Codes of Conduct and Practice
  • The Climate and Biodiversity emergency
  • Sustainable and Regenerative design
  • Supply Chains
  • Rights of Nature

*Resolving ethical issues

  • Core values
  • Decision making
  • Lifelong learning
  • Independence
  • Advocacy

Equality Act 2010 and the protected characteristics

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership (in employment only)
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Cultural intelligence (CQ™) competence: a note

  • The capability to work and relate effectively with people who are different from you
  • The framework of behaviours required if you want to be inclusive of all.
  • CQ stands for Cultural Intelligence Quotient, as it’s a measure as well as an improvable skill
  1. The motivation to engage with different cultures (CQ Drive). Your level of interest, persistence and curiosity when working and relating with those who are different to you.
  2. Gaining an understanding of core differences in lived experience (CQ Knowledge). Your understanding about how groups and individuals are similar and different.
  3. Thinking critically about your motivations and the knowledge you’ve gained (CQ Strategy).Planning, self-awareness and checking assumptions.
  4. Behaviour that is flexibly appropriate for different cultural settings (CQ Action). Your ability to adapt when relating and working in a variety of contexts.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion competence: a note

Diversity is the mix of visible and invisible difference. These characteristics go beyond those identified in the Equality Act of 2010, and includes everything, from socioeconomic background, to neurodiversity and where you live etc. the list is not exhaustive.

Inclusion is the culture where people feel their different perspectives, identities, styles and needs are respected, valued and taken into account.

Equality is about everyone getting the same, which works if you’re all at the same starting point, but that’s not the case in society more generally. There are many groups that are discriminated against and underrepresented in workplaces and professions. Equity speaks to ‘equality of access’ based on your needs, and making up for historic imbalance.

Developing an inclusion action plan

Commitment to inclusion and diversity on a micro and macro level

  • Fostering Understanding and Conviction – people understand why they’re being asked to make an inclusive change
  • Role Modelling – people see others acting inclusively
  • Developing Talents & Skills -people have the training and the opportunity to behave inclusively
  • Supportive Formal Mechanisms – structures support inclusivity e.g. Inclusive recruitment, inclusive marketing and communications, procurement, and supplier diversity


  • Non-executive role in the third sector
  • Charity movements in architecture
  • Giving your skills to your place of worship
  • Soft or technical skills you gain from volunteering.
  • Volunteer your time and skills
  • Understanding your role as a mentor
  • Secondary school and sixth form engagement

Find CPD on this topic

You must take two hours of CPD on this topic every year.

Find RIBA accredited CPD on Architecture for social purpose through RIBA Academy.

Related courses include:

Find related CPD offered by our partners on the CPD Providers Network.

Podcasts, videos, articles, and other offers can also contribute towards your CPD requirements.

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