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How to become an architect

Ways to qualify as an architect

Qualifying to be an architect typically involves five years at university and completing a minimum of two years' practical experience.

RIBA Part 1

RIBA part 1 involves studying a university undergraduate degree (e.g. BA or BSc) over three to four years full time. This provides you with the opportunity to develop your core architectural skills and understanding, preparing you for post part 1 practical experience, further study or commencing full time work. You are eligible for free RIBA Student Membership from your first year of study.

Some UK architecture courses run exchange programmes with universities abroad for up to a year of study (e.g. Erasmus programme). You could also graduate with further qualifications in specialist related fields such as planning, urban design or conservation.

Stage 1 practical experience/year out

Stage 1 practical experience is highly recommended post part 1 studies, and is typically one year in duration.

You will need to source a workplace, employment mentor and a Professional Studies Advisor in order to record your practical experience (through the PEDR website). Subject to meeting the RIBA practical experience eligibility criteria, you can count this experience towards the registration requirement set out by the Architects Registration Board (ARB).

The RIBA provides guidance for students and employers on the PEDR website, and encourages students to gain experience either under the supervision of an architect or another qualified construction industry professional at this stage.

You may choose to work for longer than one year to save money or to gain additional experience. Other options include taking time out to work in the wider construction industry, work overseas, volunteer or travel.

RIBA Part 2

Part 2 will provide you with enhanced architectural knowledge and project complexity. It is usually completed in the form of a two year full time university degree.

The name varies from school to school e.g. BArch, Diploma, MArch. At this time you will still be regarded as undergraduates in the architectural education process, but should seek clarification on the fee status at your respective/prospective schools.

Students may choose to return to the school where they completed Part 1, or apply to study for Part 2 at another school. There will be opportunities for students to carry out specialist study and research, possibly abroad.

Stage 2 practical experience

Further practical experience: 24 months of experience in total is required to sit the part 3 examination, of which 12 months minimum should be undertaken in the EEA, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man under the direct supervision of an architect. At stage 2 practical experience graduates will be given more responsibility on projects. At this time you should begin studying a part 3 course which covers aspects of practice, management and law.

At this stage you can become a RIBA Associate Member which will provide you with a range of services and benefits appropriate to the needs of graduates at this stage of their career.

RIBA Part 3

Final qualifying examination:

The examination in professional practice and management is taken at an RIBA Validated course provider.

Candidates will typically be assessed on the following elements:

  • 24 months of practical experience recorded on the PEDR website
  • Professional CV and career evaluation
  • Case study
  • Written examination
  • Final oral examination

More on RIBA Part 3:

Having gained the Parts 1, 2 and 3 qualifications you can register as an architect with the Architects Registration Board (ARB); the title 'architect' is protected by law, so that the public can always be sure that they are dealing with a properly qualified architect.

At this point you are eligible to become a Chartered Member of the RIBA. This gives you access to a wide range of services and benefits, and entitles you to become part of, and have influence over, a national and international network of architects.

Funding your studies

Read our information on how to fund your architecture studies, and access support from the RIBA and others as a student.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTES TO QUALIFICATION

Various options are available for those who are unable to study full-time or have previously gained other related qualifications and work experience, and also for those already working in architectural practice.

RIBA Studio (Previously The RIBA Examination for Office-based Candidates)

RIBA Studio offers an established, self-study route to qualification for candidates working in architectural practices, who are unable to attend courses in schools of architecture.

PART-TIME STUDY

A number of schools offer part-time RIBA validated courses which can enable students to train in architecture whilst also earning a salary, though it will take longer to qualify via this route. If you are interested in studying on a part-time basis, then you should contact your chosen school of architecture directly, to see if this route is available.

ACCREDITED PRIOR LEARNING (APL) OR ACCREDITED PRIOR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING (APEL)

Some schools offer entry with advanced standing to applicants with related qualifications, by assessing whether the content of the course they have studied is relevant to architecture. If you are already studying on a different course at a university which has a school of architecture, arrange to speak to the admissions tutor. If you want to start your studies again somewhere else, the school may give you some exemptions from parts of their course in recognition of related subjects you have already studied. This is strictly at the discretion of the school of architecture concerned.

MATURE STUDENTS

Even if you don't possess the usual admissions requirements in terms of qualifications, some schools are happy to judge a mature student on other grounds, such as your experience and your portfolio. Some universities and higher education colleges run foundation courses and access courses to enable you to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, prior to starting a degree course.

OVERSEAS STUDENTS

If you have studied or qualified to be an architect outside the UK, your qualification(s) will need to be assessed for equivalence to the UK Parts 1 and 2 by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). The RIBA recognises ARB recommendations at this stage. You will then be able to progress onto a recognised Part 2 course; or undertake a Part 3 qualification once you have met the required criteria. You should make direct contact with the ARB and course providers to discuss your options.

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