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    Hey everyone, Architecture-er here. Some of you may have seen me here and there in the sub-forum over the last few years and on my AMA thread.

    Over the years I've had a lot of questions regarding the protracted Architect accreditation process, and so I'm writing this post to help clear some things up, and hopefully help some of you when you're choosing where to do your architecture studies.

    A bit about myself, I've just graduated from my Part II studies at the University of Bath, having spent 6 years in education and work.

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    So what is an Architect and who decides who gets to be one?

    An Architect is a professional individual who is licensed to operate under the registration board of that country.

    In the UK it is the Architect's Registration Board (ARB) with whom an architect must be registered before being able to call themselves an Architect (it's a criminal offence if you aren't!). The ARB regulates the profession, punishes individuals who call themselves architects without being fully qualified, and handles professional complaints against architects who are duplicitous and otherwise hurt their clients. Think of them as the architects police, by cracking down on unqualified people they ensure that proper architects can be trusted by the public.

    In order to be able to join the ARB one must first complete three stages of study, which are administered by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The RIBA is more concerned with the promotion of the values of architects to the wider world, awarding prizes to the best practices in the country, and generally making the profession a stronger one. Think of them as your wingman who goes around telling everyone how awesome you are, and buying you drinks whenever you do something totally rad :cool:


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    How do I get registered with the ARB?

    In order to get registered with the ARB you need these three Stages under your belt. The most straightforward route is via an ARB prescribed, or RIBA accredited, course. Both lists are practically identical, however the ARB prescribes courses under a set of numerical / box-ticking exercises whilst the RIBA gives accreditation having seen at least one cohort of graduates, and so is more qualitative in nature and has an inherent delay for new courses. So a new course prescribed by the ARB for the coming 2016 academic year (for example Anglia Ruskin Part I) will allow you to tick off your Part I stage of study even though it isn't yet accredited by the RIBA due to its young age. However without the RIBA accreditation the quality of teaching, and the work graduates leave with, is still technically an unknown variable.

    Nowadays universities have become the de facto method of passing the RIBA/ARB Stages. Universities need to prove to the ARB/RIBA that their course is good enough, and when they do the ARB will give them the status of an accredited course. This is pretty important, because a sub-standard university course can offer to teach architecture but not give you exemption from the ARB Stages.

    "But Architecture-er!" I hear you cry, "how do we know if the university we want to study at is accredited?". In most circumstances this isn't an issue, nearly every university is accredited and every major one certainly is. Here is a full list of every RIBA-accredited course in the country, which also has the websites and admissions emails of the respective departments. Here's a map version of the ARB-prescribed universities, which includes new non-RIBA courses. If you study one of the courses listed in there and pass, you will have completed that Stage of the RIBA process, and can move onto the next one!

    A particular architecture courses that is NOT validated is Ravensbourne College. There may be others, there's not a complete list of non-accredited courses for obvious reasons! If you do your Bachelors degree at these schools you won't be able to continue onto a Part II validated course. There are some ways to get your accreditation afterwards, for example you could sit the exams directly with the RIBA, but this is time-consuming and may add as much as 3 extra years to the process! A full list of alternative routes to qualification can be found here, which may be useful for students who have done an architecture degree internationally, but want to come to the UK to complete their architecture training.

    Suffice to say it's best to study an RIBA accredited course, as this is the safest and fastest way to get qualified. It's also, obviously, the best way to get a good architectural education, because if the RIBA refuses to validate a course, it's with good reason. You wouldn't go to veterinary college to learn how to be a surgeon!


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    What are these stages, and what do I do for them?

    Part I - An accredited BSc, BA, BArch undergraduate degree or equivalent
    This is what most of you are looking to study, it's the first rung on the ladder. Most of these courses are three continuous years in length (Bath is different), by the end of which you should have a fairly good idea of how to design a building, the history of architecture, how to insulate and weatherproof a building, and a basic understanding of the legal responsibilities of architects. You will likely do a range of studio projects gradually increasing in difficulty, for example I started out designing a beach hut in 1st year, and finished with a city library!

    Whilst on your summer breaks it's a good idea to try and get a few months paid experience working in architecture practices, this can be a great foot in the door for later employment since at the end of your degree you'll need a minimum of one year's professional experience before moving onto your Part II.

    Passing this, with any grade, will qualify you as a Part I Architectural Assistant. One third of the way done!

    Part II - An accredited MArch, DipArch, MPhil degree or equivalent
    Having completed your Part I accredited studies, and with a minimum of one year's professional experience under your belt, you're ready to embark on your Part II studies! Again this must be fully accredited in order for you to complete this RIBA stage. Your options here range quite substantially so it's worth doing your research, the most straightforward route is an MArch degree, typically 1.5-2 years in duration. This is a taught Masters so is classified as an undergraduate Masters degree, not a full Masters. However this is fine for the RIBA, and is the preferred degree for most of the top universities with a focus on real-work practice. The work will be similar to that of the undergraduate degree, but increasing in scale, complexity and detail. As well as all the basic requirements, successful candidates should be considering the local cultures of their buildings and developing their own style and personal values when it comes to designing 'good architecture'.

    A variation is a research Masters, such as an MPhil in Architecture offered by Cambridge. Since you're conducting research into a specific topic it can be less geared towards designing a specific building project, for example you may research architecture's role in sustainable urban farming. It's more geared towards academia, but is equally as reputable (if not more so!).

    A Masters degree will have smaller class sizes and allows you to tailor yourself, so embrace the opportunity and don't worry about "the right type of degree", if its accredited with the RIBA then you're golden.

    Passing this will qualify you as a Part II Architectural Assistant, and you're almost there! From this point onwards you go into professional practice, getting more responsibilities and starting to learn about project management.

    Part III - part-time course administered by a university (around 30 available in the country)
    So you made it... the big daddy! In order to sit the Part III examinations you still need to be enrolled at a university, however this isn't full-time (more like a few days per month) and is typically sponsored by the practice you're working at. Prior requirements are 24 month's total experience, this can include the year of work gained between your Part I and II courses, but is often not used since the quality of experience isn't very high. A minimum of 12 months of this should be done in the EEA, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man under the supervision of a registered architect.

    In order to pass your Part III exams you need to have shown you have experience of handling projects at every stage of design and construction, students looking to fast-track their studies often do their second year of experience whilst doing their Part III studies, sitting the exam at the end just as they receive enough required experience.

    So the fastest route possible is:

    - 3 years | Undergraduate degree in Architecture
    - 1 years | Professional experience
    - 2 years | Postgraduate degree in Architecture
    - 1 years | Professional experience (whilst sitting classes for Part III)
    - Pass your exams and qualify

    However, like sitting a driving exam, it's costly and a pain in the ass to fail your Part III exam! So oftentimes Part II graduates will get one or two years of experience under their belt, then start their Part III studies and pass it more comfortably. It's all personal preference, and depends on the quality and breadth of experience you've previously acquired.


    Recording your professional experience

    So it sounds like your qualification mainly hinges on the quality of experience you get during your Part I and Part II studies, right? Well that's correct, and in order to record all of this experience students must fill out Professional Experience and Development Records (PEDRs). These are completed online in blocks of 3 months, though I imagine there's wriggle room if you get a 2.5 month block in summer, a 3.5 month block elsewhere... etc. There will be a Placement Mentor based at your university, once you've completed 3 months experience and had it signed off by your employer you send it to them to get it stamped. Once that's done they'll hand it back to you for safekeeping, your previous PEDR records are also archived on the PEDR website where you can view them at any time.

    The main thing is to experience lots of different stages, so a student with 6 months experience on initial designs, site surveying, client meetings, design and access statements, planning submissions, tender packages and on-site construction will be far better off than a student who spent 12 months modelling speculative designs in sketchup! A lot of this hinges on your employer, so work hard and prove to them that you're capable of taking on more responsibilities, and this'll greatly benefit you!


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    So... hopefully that wasn't too much of a mind-melting blast of information, the main thing to take away is to ensure you're studying an accredited course, as a foot wrong here will significantly derail your professional career!

    If you've got any further questions post them below and I'll try to answer them, and if you have any corrections or edits to make to this please let me know.
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    Editor note: It's been pointed out that Anglia Ruskin, whilst not listed under the RIBA list of accredited courses, is listed as accredited by the ARB. I'm guessing that this is because the ARB revoked their BSc course on the 21st March 2016 - a new accredited BA course is to be accredited at Anglia Ruskin from 1st June 2016.

    Made amendments to the main post to clarify the distinction between RIBA and ARB-validated courses
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    Hey,

    I know this is kinda late, but what are the other routes as to becoming an Architect? I understand that you can take an office exam but how would it work lets say, if i did an apprenticeship in some company.

    And also, what are the financial implications?

    Thanks in advance
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    (Original post by Stormz1)
    Hey,

    I know this is kinda late, but what are the other routes as to becoming an Architect? I understand that you can take an office exam but how would it work lets say, if i did an apprenticeship in some company.

    And also, what are the financial implications?

    Thanks in advance
    Currently the only alternative (in the UK) to degree route is the RIBA Examinations for Officed Based Candidates (these are the exams that accredited courses give you an exemption from). These are administered by Oxford Brookes University. You need a minimum of three years' experience and must be employed throughout the period of the examinations (which take, at least, as long as part I and II at a University, but you don't have the year out).
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    Currently trying to get employed during my 3rd year part 1 because I dont want to have 1 year out for experience and want to start part 2 directly after my part 1. I constantly get feedback that my portfolio is very good but since i am a student and cant be full time employed through the year it is a big issue and they dont wanna hire me until i get my part 1 qualification how do i go past this? Is it possible to apply for part 2 without the experience or with the condition that you will work while studying or something like that.
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    (Original post by nomnomnom7)
    Currently trying to get employed during my 3rd year part 1 because I dont want to have 1 year out for experience and want to start part 2 directly after my part 1. I constantly get feedback that my portfolio is very good but since i am a student and cant be full time employed through the year it is a big issue and they dont wanna hire me until i get my part 1 qualification how do i go past this? Is it possible to apply for part 2 without the experience or with the condition that you will work while studying or something like that.
    if you work before you have completed your degree (part I exemption) it won't count towards your PEDR so you will have to do two years minimum post-part II. Of course it's not that straight forward if, for example, you are undertaking an honours degree in Scotland. But... Is an architecture degree not hard enough for you that you want a really demanding job too in your final year?! On average, there is a correlation between how much time is spent working and the degree classification awarded...

    It will be up to the individual university to decide whether or not to accept you straight from part I to part II, but it's unlikely anywhere would accept less than three months experience. However, why would you want to? The point is that there are things which it is just better to learn in different environments. No matter how good a lecturer you have, talking about contracts is completely different to using one everyday, for one example.

    I believe there are a couple of courses that combine the year out with the first year of part II, Cardiff and Nottingham (?), so if it really is that important to you, that's probably your best option.
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    in a nutshell I am in a *****y uni and i always get a first in my grades so working part time wouldnt effect my grades at all. Im looking for a way to overcompensate for my bad uni as this can put me in a bad position if i decide to work after my part 1 or apply for part 2

    (Original post by SebastianMesser)
    if you work before you have completed your degree (part I exemption) it won't count towards your PEDR so you will have to do two years minimum post-part II. Of course it's not that straight forward if, for example, you are undertaking an honours degree in Scotland. But... Is an architecture degree not hard enough for you that you want a really demanding job too in your final year?! On average, there is a correlation between how much time is spent working and the degree classification awarded...

    It will be up to the individual university to decide whether or not to accept you straight from part I to part II, but it's unlikely anywhere would accept less than three months experience. However, why would you want to? The point is that there are things which it is just better to learn in different environments. No matter how good a lecturer you have, talking about contracts is completely different to using one everyday, for one example.

    I believe there are a couple of courses that combine the year out with the first year of part II, Cardiff and Nottingham (?), so if it really is that important to you, that's probably your best option.
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    (Original post by nomnomnom7)
    in a nutshell I am in a *****y uni and i always get a first in my grades so working part time wouldnt effect my grades at all. Im looking for a way to overcompensate for my bad uni as this can put me in a bad position if i decide to work after my part 1 or apply for part 2
    even if you are at a ****y uni, if you get a first (or 2:1) you will not find it difficult to get an interview at another uni for part II (then it is down to you and your portfolio whether you get a place). The one thing that will make it difficult for you to get a place on a part II course is*not having year out experience. Best of luck.
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    Only 18% of students starting out in architecture will ever qualify as practising architects. Read 15 Reasons NOT to study Architecture by Moira M. Malcolm and you'll learn everything the universities, who just want to fill places, won't tell you. It includes (in an appendix) the opinions of architecture students and practising architects. Just do your own research. Of the 18% who qualify, what are their salaries? Will you be able to support yourself or a family? You need to know these things before taking on debt to do this lengthy, 100% subjective course.
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    I have a doubt either choosing a BSc in architecture degree in UWE Bristol or a B.Arch degree in Lincoln.Both are RIBA accredited.Which to choose?
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    thank you, i needed this explanation. I am a non EU, British passport holder so for the one year or 2 year experiences between the part 1 and part 2 and part 3 of RIBA , what type of visa will i require. Also is it easy for a non British to get a job or internship in england?
 
 
 
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