geneD
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Mature student here (33yo) from the States starting Architecture Part 1 at one of the following: London Met, Kingston, Greenwich or Oxford Brookes. I'm having quite a hard time deciding between the schools. Any suggestions out there, especially as concerning reputation and employability? Cheers.
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Stewie2011
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Steer clear of Greenwich its bad news, the dean of architecture guy that took over about 5 years back regularly fails many students each year, every year, say up to 50 percent of each year or so. So, odds are it would be a pointless waste of time and money at Greenwich. In UK Architecture degrees, if you fail the main design module and do not pass during a reassessment during the summer you cannot go onto next year. If you fail other modules you can do it alongside next years module to a point, that why the dean there involves himself and targets the design modules, a real ********. Shame as nice campus.

Oxford brookes has a good reputation, quite arty though, living costs not much cheaper than London apparently.

Kingston is decent all round, perhaps not quite as arty but still look for art skills i het the impression. Not as well known reputation as brookes, not a poor reputation, at least average but just never seems to get well known enough, work seems pretty decent there though from what I've seen. Kingston is quite a nice area in London, good shopping centre, nightlife & parks, busy though.

London Met is ok, quiet a good reputation, perhaps a bit better known than Kingston, sometimes compared to Westminster that is often well regarded by many. However, some of the teaching attitudes of lecturers have come to light in the past as not being very good from what I've heard and also on this board. I wonder if the quality of what you get taught there is really all that good, ive never really seen much in the way of impressive work from them as far as i can recall. Near central London location a fair bit north of the thames but near to central london than kingston. In bit of a run down area though, not real bad just not pleasant looking, built up, think they may have a new architecture studio building though.

Personally if it were me i would go for brookes, oxford is quite near london anyway.. However if being in London is the draw then i would go for kingston, its near enough to get into central london, decent looking course and is not in a dive.
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hihihihihi
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Best choice is probably Oxford Brookes.

I know quite a lot of people don't like the league tables but if you look at average entry standards it might help you decide: http://www.thecompleteuniversityguid...s=Architecture
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geneD
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Thanks for that, quite useful info!

I got the same impression about London Met when I visited, and their "new" building is actually quite bleak. Hard to get an accurate assessment of the programme though, because they seem to have a good reputation when I ask around and some of the Part 2 work I saw at the show was impressive. Maybe their reputation is mainly for Part 2 and not for the BA?

I have yet to visit Oxford Brookes, but I get the impression from the student work they published that they are trying to be a sort of "diet Bartlett" and not sure if that's my cup of tea. If I go there it would be for their reputation alone.

Greenwich's new building and the work they produce is stunning, but I think I'm going to rule them out since I have a lot at stake as an international student. (Can't afford to redo a year, plus I'll need to work part time during the studies.)

I've decided to apply to East London as well, as I've heard from a few people they are worth considering. Any thoughts on that one?

Kingston produces my favourite student work of the lot, plus they offer a classical studio (the only one in the country from what I understand), which is a pet interest of mine and might also be a stand out on the CV.

I would just confirm Kingston and be done with it, but their tuition (for international students) is actually considerably higher than the others, so I still don't have an easy choice here...
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Stewie2011
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Think you're right london met has more of a reputation for part 2 work from what i recall, not sure why this is. East London has a purpose built campus but under the flight path of the local airport there apparently. Never neen there but low grades for entry, and while i imagine you might get some decent students there you will doubtless get those that mess around and makthee you wonder why they are there. An irritating facet common to many lower grade unis you seem to get these bods turn up with at best a passing interest, often its difficult to determine if they have any interest at all in thethe course at all, they just occassionally turn up for some weird reason, make a lot of noise and dont seem to care about the subject/course at all. So no i dont think east london, i.e uel, has a good reputation, probably one of the worst in London. Not to say the course would be all that bad though from what i last saw its pretty standard fare there. Think again the part 2 may be a bit better than the part one there.

Like yourself not keem on the Bartlett stuff, oxford brookes is perhaps as little in that direction but im thinking more art for brookes not quite as oddball as the Bartlett. Personally myself Im not really an art guy, more into CAD and the building itself. So stuff like oxford brookes would be too arty for me.

So how come you're thinking of architecture school in the UK rather than the US?
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geneD
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Tuition is well over 3x higher in the States, and to be frank, American architecture is rubbish. (All the best modern buildings in New York were designed by European firms.)

I really like Kingston's student work, and both the department and university seem sorted and sane. (Also, their post-grad employment statistics are the best of the lot by far, if unistats is to be believed.) Just a shame they charge £3.5k more per year than London Met does, and I may simply not be able to get the funds in time to secure my student visa. Hard to decide if it's worth the extra trouble.
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Bowen.
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Hi,
Went through the whole application system before, didn't like where I was, dropped out, tight on money. Going toGreenwich (travel distance is shorter from my house, couldn't give a damn aboutreputation any more, they all saythat they are good -.-)

As I understand it; Greenwich was the worst University for architecture until about 5 years ago. Sat rock bottom of the league tables, and the league tables are pretty crap indicators to start off with. The dean was hired in 2011 from the Bartlett (left due to disagreement with UCL's admissions process penalizing students with lower grades/not the correct subjects) brought some of his staff with him, he then went on to fail 80% of the first year students of 2011 and then fired the part-time staff. I don’t know about the fail rates since then, but I imagine it has a similar problem to East London with the lower grade requirements.

(http://www.bdonline.co.uk/80-of-gree...023037.article)
(http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/green...023583.article)
(http://www.bdonline.co.uk/comment/le...023938.article)
(http://www.bdonline.co.uk/architectu...056393.article)
http://www.bdonline.co.uk/first-look...069954.article

(By coincidence some bloke called Stewie in the comments section seems to hate everything about the school including its physical design. Its funny because I read it in Stewie Griffin’s voice.)

Concerning failing the design module, the design module is an enormous chunk of the degree. If you fail that you are screwed wherever you go, and the first year isn't isn't the worst of it. The policy of redoing the year because you failed the main design module is, I am pretty sure applicable to every school. Brief history of architecture, learning about simple concrete/timber built structures and basic concepts of planning in your first year are examples of other modules.

Regarding student work, I visited the summer exhibition, it’s a slightly different version of the Bartlett,advertises being student led because it is a new course. It does not bother me much.

Visited Kingston, also loved the summer exhibition work produced but found the actual school itself to be a bit small, taking up one, maybe two floors of a high rise tower with the art school taking up the space below. I really like the art school. It would have been too much of trek to get to the uni from where I lived.

Last time I visited London met I thought the work they produced was good but didn't get the greatest impression on the open day seeing as the woman in charge of the architecture dept. didn't know that there was one in the first place, then made a poor attempt at a light hearted joke at me which was an unconscious back-handed insult. She was very frank and about choosing courses though- went something along the lines of: the requirements for an accredited course in the UK are so stringent that at the end of the day everyone gets taught more or less the same thing at university.Choose the course that suits you that you think you can make work for you, each course has its own unique identity as its selling point. What she failed to mention was whether the teaching was any good.

I don’t know much about Oxford Brookes, it’s about an hour away from London and I’ve heard that the facilities there are outstanding. I agree, the work isn’t as odd as UCL and the rep is good. However about half the architecture firms in the UK are based in London and that is the place they will recruit from first. Brookes will probably say that they have good links with industry, as do all the universities. Do you prefer a quiet environment like Oxford, or the brouhaha of London? Where I went to previously was a cultural deadzone and a pretty difficult place to work, find work space and inspiration.

Have you tried looking at Westminster or University of the Arts London (Central Saint Martins)?
Perhaps you could email your chosen universities to get in touch with mature students who can offer better insights.

Some useful links:
http://unistats.direct.gov.uk/ (don’t base you decision solely on it)
http://blogs.gre.ac.uk/architecture/
http://fada.kingston.ac.uk/
http://www.westminster.ac.uk/about-u...s/architecture
http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/courses/un...s-and-objects/


I wouldn't say all American architecture is bad- ShoP architects and Diller Scorfio + Renfro in New York, Wendell Burnette in Phoenix. Norman Foster and Richard Rogers both attended Yale albeit many years ago... But yes I see your point when European firms are getting all the big press releases. I don't like Libeskind or Gehry.
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vimto39
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Not read any of the other comments, but Oxford Brookes has a very good reputation for architecture. I would say that it certainly has a much better reputation than the other generally, also.

I don't really have any first hand experience, but one of my friends chose Oxford Brookes over different universities for architecture with higher general prestige and told me that within the profession it is very well respected.

Ultimately though, you're spending seven years doing a degree - you're going to have to enjoy the area and campus more than anything else.
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Phan66
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Oxford Brookes has a pretty good reputation as a Uni, probably much better than those other ones. I think it's pretty posh there though!
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geneD
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Hey Bowen, thanks for your input and for the links. Hard to know how much credence I should give to Unistats, as I've seen their figures roundly contradicted on other sites and by university staff.

You're pretty brave for going to Greenwich knowing about their brutal grading policy. I actually think their work (and their new building) is quite impressive, but as a foreign student, I have too much riding on this to take the risk. Also, I'm not sure all the parametric conceptual stuff is really my cup of tea, much as I enjoy looking at it.

I keep hearing about Oxford Brookes' reputation, but I'm honestly just not feeling it with most of their work. Lots of faux-Zaha blobitecture and jagged deconstructivist "interpretations" that are really not the sort of thing I care for. A few good works mixed in there, but hard to find them amongst all the cartooney hokeyness that permeates their catalogue. (I wonder if the better more adult stuff simply didn't make the cut.)

I'd probably go with Kingston if they were priced more reasonably for foreign students. Their work is really up my alley, more so than any other school I've researched. It's serious, conscientious, beautiful. They seem to have sympathies for classical architecture and you can see the influence even in the modernist projects. I have yet to see a comparable body of work anywhere. However, I just read their current director is leaving and I haven't found any info on his replacement. Quite a gamble there, and the distance from central London isn't helping. Shame it's been impossible to get a hold of anyone in the department.

London Met seems the best compromise at the moment. Yeah they have a few imbeciles on staff and the stuff coming out of the second and third year studios was not particularly impressive, but the best of their work is of very high quality, and I imagine it's possible to produce good stuff there if you try. Plus industry seems to like them. My only lingering worry with them is that they may be resting on their Part 2 laurels and not putting enough resources into Part 1. Will need to enquire further.

Any thoughts on UEL?

(By the way, Central St. Martin's is prohibitively expensive for foreign students, and Westminster rejected me before even seeing my portfolio, w*nkers.)
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Bowen.
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Hi Gene, I am am afraid I know little about UEL, but from what I see on the website is that it is a Bachelor of Sciences, my old university has something similar and it seemed more technical in its approach.

Having come across students who couldn't give a sh!t previously before (does your head in when you have to work with them) I imagine something similar happens at UEL too.

It’s quite far from central London, it takes about 30 minutes to get to Bank station in the City of London and another 15 minutes to get to the West End. Using the car you could shave off 20 minutes, probably.

The university itself is situated next to City airport,though I personally never found noise to be much of problem when I pass by occasionally, the buildings probably have sound insulation seeing as people live there too.

The general area is made up of remnants of the Docklands’s industrial past as well as present day regeneration visible from the campus. The University itself mainly caters to locals much like Kingston but without the pleasant surroundings. The borough of Newham is one of the most deprived in the country with a totally different calibre of people living there on the whole compared to Kingston and Surbiton. Can be inspiring at times, other times it seems bleak on an overcast day. Nice Chinese restaurant down the road though.

At the risk of sounding patronizing, it is pretty much what you want out of your education and how much you want it, the tutors and lecturers are just there to facilitate you-provided you have a good enough argument for your intentions. I do not think a few negligent people would get in the way of that.

I vaguely remember London met having two workshops for the all the design, art and architecture depts. I do not know how busy both those are when everyone is using it.

May I ask why are you want to do architecture? Seems like a lot of effort to come to a foreign land, but then I've seen the eye popping tuition fees in the US.


I'm fortunate to be paying less than international students, I end up paying the same amount of money wherever I go as a local, its just a small shame that I applied late and had fewer choices to pick from. I liked Greenwich because it felt more open and reflective and I was very interested in further exploring East London. I would also be more comfortable with city universities than campus ones.

Westminster admissions sound like lovely people.
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geneD
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Fees for international students actually vary widely from school to school, and as a general rule they get higher the farther you get from central London. (Edinburgh, for example, charges around 20k, while London Met, Greenwich and UEL are just over 10k.) I've had to rule out a number of schools like Sheffield, Cardiff, Nottingham, etc. solely for that reason. I fully understand why they do it, but I'm just not quite as financially gifted as the typical sort of student they may attract from overseas.

I have a long list of reasons for why I want to study architecture, both practical and philosophical. Not about ego, not interested in turning myself into a brand. I just think it's a good fit in my case and there are a few niches I'd like to explore. Yes I'm aware of how tough it can be.

As for why in the UK, yes tuition is probably the main factor, though as I mentioned I'm not particularly inspired by American architecture. (Have you seen any downtown of an average American city? Ever flown over Phoenix? Taken a leisurely stroll through LA?) Sure, there are a few firms doing interesting things, but overall I'm just not impressed, at least as compared to what I've seen in Europe. Also, UK schools seem a more forgiving environment for mature students.

(Mainland Europe schools are out for the language barrier.)
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geneD
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Bowen, can you tell me a bit more about why you chose Greenwich? Was it just the location?
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Stewie2011
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Well just to put Bowen straight, Spiller arrived at Greenwich by himself during the 2010—11 academic year. The staff he broughr over came after in the following academic year 2011-12. He was able to do this as he fired most of the first year tutors, following that he fired the second/third year tutors in the following year to that. Hence a strategy of getting rid of Greenwich Architecture School as it was and replacing it with largely Bartlett/ex Bartlett (UCL) staff. This was regardless of the work of the students, he just failed them as an excuse to bring in his own lot. In fact the year previous to Spiller arriving at Greenwich a student won the RIBA president medal. So no the work was clearly not a problem.

Anyway, in the case of OP I would go for Kingston despite the extra cost otherwise you would be spending a lot of money on something always wishing you had paid the bit extra for somwthing that you want. If you're into classical few schools in the uk entertain the notion, some tutors/schools are down right hostile to the idea of doing it as they are modernists, corbusier, blobists, deconstructist, funky art trendy crowd, 60/70s era types, etc. You go in there as a student and say you want to do classical, even modern classical an and it will not go down well.

Would personally avoid London met, i know there reputation is quite good, but yes have heard some of there tutors can have a bit of an attitude. Spoke to one once briefly an ed she was a bit abrupt, another was ok though.

Possibly there is also South Bank Uni, have not looked at there international fees though. They also do an Architectural Technology course though and those courses can be more grounded as well so could be worth looking at.
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geneD
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Stewie, thanks for your advice. I'm actually not 100% keen on the classical stuff. I just think it would be interesting to study and incorporate into contemporary designs (using Paladian proportions, etc.) rather than treating it like dogma. I think Kingston's ethos is somewhere along those lines so it's a good fit, but it still costs 3000/year more than all my other options and money is tight.

Do you or anyone else know anything about UWE Bristol? They finally have some space through clearing...
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Stewie2011
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Visited UWE about three years or so ago now, was just a year or two after they finished completing their new architecture department building which is very nice, good facilities, lots of space and well equiped as its all purpose built. Had a lot of work on display also, looked quite decent, generally quite down to earth for RIBA, shopping commercial units, etc. Campus in the countryside which is nice, purpose built so a fair amount of facilities, some of it was 60/70s concrete stuff but not too bad as plenty other stuff built since. Would have to travel into Bristol town centre which is nice now, quayside renovated, Brunel's ship, clifton suspension bridge, etc. Think a trainline runs direct into London from there so not too bad. Reputation of Architecture department pretty decent, getting quite well known now. So one worth considering I would have thought if fees are ok.
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zmacfarlane
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(Original post by geneD)
Mature student here (33yo) from the States starting Architecture Part 1 at one of the following: London Met, Kingston, Greenwich or Oxford Brookes. I'm having quite a hard time deciding between the schools. Any suggestions out there, especially as concerning reputation and employability? Cheers.
My friend now working at Grimshaw Architects went to Oxford Brookes and recommends it.

A helpful tip for any architecture students is also to Check out "100 Tips for Architecture Students'' available on Amazon...

Good Luck!
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Stewie2011
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GeneD, did you decide one yet? If you're thinking of any through clearing I would make sure you've sorted it by A'level results day on the 13th Aug I believe it is as the better courses/uni's can go quickly after that meaning less choice as you go through Aug and into September. Sometimes some decent courses are left near the end but more often than not popular subjects like Architecture are already gone. In any case was wondering if a degree at a UK uni would be valid in the US? I'm not really up on the system over there but I know UK degrees are often just three years initially while US can be 4-5 years from what ive heard (as a whole degree), but i may be mistaken as like i say im not up on the US system that much.
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geneD
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Hey Stewie, still weighing my options.

A bit weird how many brief posts show up here supporting Oxford Brookes, kinda suspicious. Anyway I'm not going there after seeing their Candyland works catalogue, and I need to be in London anyhow. Greenwich is off the list as well. Simply too risky, despite the quality of their (utterly insane) work.

I've met plenty of architects with British diplomas working in the US. Three years (Part 1) + two years (Part 2) = five years, same as in the States. Plus, as I've mentioned before, American architecture is by and large in a sorry state, as they're still building post-modernist schlock from coast to coast outside of the major cities. I'm sure a British eduction would be highly valued.
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Stewie2011
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Hey GeneD, don't think there is necessarily anything suspicious of the posts on Oxford Brookes, until a few years ago they were not as popular until recent years when compared to the Bartlett they were seen to be doing just as good work, perhaps even better though a bit less 'experimental'. Unfortunately though both are on the artsy end as are the majority of the schools in London. It is fairly well known for having more artsy architecture course than most of the rest of the uk. Commonly the RIBA tend to still have an art focus anyway so it's kind of playing to that direction. Personally I'm not that keen on candyland, fictional, artsy farty stuff I find it an unwelcome distraction from doing real architecture at hand.

Speaking of which looked at the Greenwich catalogue the other day. Shame the way it has gone, seems to be full of work from staff and their associates than student work which it used to be full of, now more a platform for the staff to showcase their work than anything else. Gone are the list of all the students participating in the year. One can assume they are now deemed irrelevant beyond providing funding for the place. In many ways rehash of some common Bartlett styles in there, cranes put in for there for staging style, rehashed of the artsy drawing Spiller seems to do. The visualizations may look impressive and indeed to some extent are but once you know a couple off the necessary programs to use they can be knocked out pretty quickly, it's the computer that takes the credit there. All in all geared more towards computer game's than the serious business of architecture to be honest. So think you're made the right choice in avoiding it. Let us know how you get on.
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