Study Architecture in the UK

The built environment is one of the most visible of man’s achievements, with structures dating from prehistoric times still in existence. Today, there is an even greater demand for buildings than ever before and courses in architecture are among the most popular offered by universities in Britain.

The Challenge of the Profession

The life of the Architect can be full and satisfying, offering widely varying opportunities to both men and women. The work is both artistically creative and at the same time technically demanding, the resolution of the tension between the two bringing a sense of achievement. As in most areas of concern, there are often complications, but these are frequently outweighed by the satisfaction of providing a caring professional service which applies inspiration, design skills and technical expertise to the client’s needs.

The Architect is trained in all aspects of building, and can advise on and carry out the design of new buildings and extensions, the repair, preservation or rehabilitation of old buildings from initial feasibility studies through to the completion of the final account. Architects are skilled in analysing building problems and producing design solutions to them.

The majority of Architects work in small to medium sized practices of up to 20 people, although there are some larger offices. Others are employed by local authorities and various public sector bodies.

The training of an Architect has to be exceptionally comprehensive and includes the aesthetic, practical, technical, economic and contractual aspects of construction. In a period of increasing specialisation in many fields, the Architect is expected to have a general understanding of all aspects of building. Not surprisingly, all courses, of whatever kind, are long and involved, not by any means easy, and require sustained effort and commitment.

The Personal Characteristics Required

A candidate for Architectural education should be able to think about and analyse complex problems, and a lively and inventive mind is an asset, together with some artistic sensitivity. Resourcefulness is needed, as is the ability to achieve an unbiased solution to the problems involved. As the work often involves dealing with legal procedures, there needs to be an aptitude to cope with such matters.

On a personal level, one will have to be able to get on with all types of people, such as clients, colleagues and contractors, and a keen sense of humour is a not inconsiderable help in some circumstances.

Qualification and Registration

In the United Kingdom the title of ‘Architect’ is protected by law, and to be able to use it one has to be registered with the Architects Registration Board Qualification for registration is by examination, usually undertaken at one of the recognised Schools of Architecture, with the course being in three sections:

  • 1. A full time course at a university leading to a degree after three years.
  • 2. A full time Diploma course at university. (Often there is a break between these two parts, when a year’s practical experience is gained).
  • 3. A further year’s practice is required before the Professional practice

Examination is taken, leading to Registration as an Architect.

Information and Courses

Courses and their details vary from year to year, and it is advisable to approach the university chosen for details of the courses offered. Entrance qualifications for each University differ and should be checked with the university concerned. The normal requirement is the equivalent of three good A levels, with preferred subjects including: Maths, other Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, etc.), Art and Economics. Other useful subjects could include: Business Studies, Geography, Languages and those demonstrating literacy skills (English, History, etc.).

Architectural Technology

The Architect is assisted in this work by the Architectural Technician or Technologist, whose qualification and experience lie in the detailed technical area of the work as opposed to the aesthetic design of the buildings.

The Technologist will carry out many tasks on behalf of the Architect, including:

  • measured surveys of buildings and sites
  • drawing up technical and production drawings
  • computer aided drawing and design
  • preparation of specifications and schedules of works, with selection of appropriate materials
  • co-ordination of information and work of specialists and statutory bodies
  • quality control and site inspection
  • interpretation of Building Regulations and associated legislation

The Technologist must therefore have a full and detailed understanding of building science and technology and of building contracts and regulations and the law associated with building.


The Architectural Technologist has traditionally qualified by means of BTEC Higher National Certificate or Diploma courses and many of these are still available at Universities and Colleges all over Britain. However, in the last few years, many Universities have developed degrees in Architectural Technology and these are becoming increasingly popular. Entry to all of these courses is by A levels, with the preferred subjects being similar to those for Architecture, although Art is less important as there is less aesthetic design in the work involved. Other suitable qualifications would be lower level BTEC awards or GNVQs, or their equivalent. The individual Universities or Colleges should be contacted for their particular requirements.

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