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3 Steps to Become an Architect in the UK

25th April 2016 Posted by: Student World Online

ARCHITECTURE is one of the most cross-discipline careers you can find. Only those with a creative mind can design buildings from scratch, but architecture also needs meticulous mathematics and precise science. And on top of learning a varied, practical skill set, architects also need to know about planning permission, engineering costs and building codes. However, once qualified, architecture is a diverse living where no two days will be the same. So if you are interested in this prestigious career, read on to find out more about the route in.

What is the main process?

The job title of ‘architect’ is protected by law in many countries so that only those who are fully qualified through approved avenues can use the title. Indeed, architects in the Philippines are addressed as Architect, rather than Mr./Mrs./Ms. before surnames, in a similar way as doctors. An undergraduate degree in Architecture is required, followed by a taught Masters degree, several years of monitored work experience, and written examinations.

How long does it take?

With all there is to learn, it is no surprise that becoming an architect takes specialist training over a number of years. Whilst it does vary around the world, in the majority of countries a minimum of seven years is required, assuming that the training is completed in one go. In Britain, five of those years would be in full-time education – and therefore unpaid.

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What qualifications will I need from high school?

Entry requirements do vary, and there a growing emphasis on a good portfolio or practical experience. However, universities usually like to see five GCSEs (A*-C) which include English, Science and Maths, and set of at least three A-Levels, or equivalent, in any subject (although subjects such as Art and Maths are preferable.) Most courses will also ask to see a portfolio of creative work and may invite prospective students to an interview.

Gaining entry on an undergraduate course is the first of three parts you need to complete a full qualification.

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Steps to becoming an architect:

Step one

You need to study an undergraduate degree from a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) validated course. There are many validated courses available, both in the UK and internationally, which last between three and four years. This will provide you with the basic skills of drawing and CAD (computer-aided design) drawing, as well as theoretical, historical, material and technical issues. Validated courses usually include the RIBA Part I examinations that all architects require.

Upon completing an undergraduate degree, you will have to gain practical experience before moving on to the next stage. This usually takes one year, and during this time students record their experience or Professional Experience Development Record (PEDR) on the PEDR website. This is monitored by both a Professional Studies Advisor (PSA) from the university you studied at, and an employment mentor from the placement you work for. Some people spend more than a year in these placements to get extra work experience, or save some money, before moving on to part two.

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Step two

After at least a year’s work experience, you can go back to university to complete your postgraduate degree. This could be a BArch, a Diploma or a March, but they will all last two years fulltime. These courses are sometimes still classed as an undergraduate course, which can affect the cost of the course and funding available. Design modules are often taught in more specialist studios, whilst ‘crits,’ or critiques, involve you presenting your design work to your tutors for feedback. There are often also field trips to important or useful buildings. You can complete this degree at the same university you did your undergraduate course, or you can do it with a new provider. As postgraduate degrees in architecture are often more varied than undergraduate courses, it is worth considering aspects such as content and teaching methods when choosing the course. There may be work-based modules, where students can gain valuable practical experience, or there may be the chance to specialise in areas, including aspects such as sustainable architecture.

After completing the postgraduate course, you will be required to continue with some work experience. You should be under the direct supervision of a fully-qualified architect, and you will now be given more responsibility on projects. For UK students, 12 months of work must take place in the EEA, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. As before, this will need to be recorded and monitored on the PEDR website for it to count.

Step three

A total of at least 24 months' work experience (i.e. 12 months before the postgraduate degree and 12 months afterwards) is required before moving onto part three: The final exam. In Britain, the RIBA has its own Part 3 qualification - the Advanced Diploma in Professional Practice in Architecture (ADPPA). This is an online course that assesses your competence as an architect before you can sign up for the exam itself. The exam lasts for three days. The first two days involve answering ‘practice problems,’ while the third day is for compiling your submission, which needs to include your CV, a Self Evaluation, a Case Study, the PEDR log sheets from your work experience, and the answers to the Practice Problems. You will have to be overseen by your nominated supervisor, and there are fees for registration, completion of the online course and the examination.

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What happens after the final exam?

Once the final exams are passed, this qualifies someone to register with a professional architecture organisation and the job title of ‘architect’ can be used. Being a member of groups such as the Indian Institute of Architects, The Society of American Registered Architects or the Bund Deutscher Architekten allows you to work as an architect, and opens to doors to multiple career possibilities. It is members of such societies that are likely to be designing new skylines, public museums and grand buildings. To make such an impact on way the world looks, it might be worth so many years in training.


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