The Student Room Group

Architecture; best route in for Mature Disabled Student

I'm a 29 year old looking at going back into education (much of my 20's were spent in ill health until I received my kidney transplant). I am really keen to study Architecture as I feel it will unite my creative and problem-solving/logical sides of my brain. I have very strong GCSEs at 8A*s, 2As 1 B and I currently have A levels in Psychology (A), Business (A), Chemistry (C), and AS levels in Maths (B) and Biology (B). I'm keen on a course that also involves aspects of engineering and is more on the science/environmental side than super artistic. I've struck a problem in that some Unis won't even accept my Alevels as they are now 10 years old and some courses require a full Maths a level. I would also like to aim for a strong uni as I feel I have the ability to push myself. Has anyone got advice on how to proceed. My options as I see them are as follows: Go straight to my local Uni where I am likely to get in as it has a foundation year (architecture and design so allows flexibility if I decide to go more down the design route). Upsides, local so little change needed in life. Downsides there are much better unis I think I could get in with a little push, in saying this I may be able to transfer after foundation year, though I don't know how easy this is. Also, I'm scared to jump straight into a degree after being out of studying so long as I don't want to mess up. Or perhaps take another year to take up some more relevant A levels (such as Maths, Environmental science, and Classical civilizations). I'm hoping I would be able to do this alongside working, so I can save some money for a big move to a Uni and course of my choice. This will prove expensive as I have to fund myself but will open up doors to my ideal unis and courses if I achieve good enough grades. It will also mean I can study straight away and at home, which is ideal for my health and living situation, but could be taxing to take up 3 new kinds of topics alongside working.Finally, take a access to HE diploma before applying. Again, I would hope to work alongside this, but I don't know of any architect-specific diplomas..? Please correct me if I'm wrong! I would probably have to do art/design or something like that. I feel this would illustrate my more artistic side, which I have little qualifications for atm. As far as I understand most access to HE is more vocational though, so I'm not sure if I could study at home/as flexibly so I am worried it would be harder to do while working. The plus of this is it's cheaper than a foundation year, ad I would not need to even pay the loan back should I complete my degree... Immay also need to complete maths on top of this for my ideal course requirements though... I'm really struggling with which avenue to go down. I'm conscious of jumping into another degree I don't complete (I studied Psychology and Neuroscience for over a year before dropping out). I'm also very conscious being a mature disabled student that life is likely going to be a bit more difficult. I would really appreciate advice from architect students as to what skills/route they think would be optimal from their experience studying architecture Thanks in advance!
Original post by Avril Kirsty
I'm a 29 year old looking at going back into education (much of my 20's were spent in ill health until I received my kidney transplant). I am really keen to study Architecture as I feel it will unite my creative and problem-solving/logical sides of my brain. I have very strong GCSEs at 8A*s, 2As 1 B and I currently have A levels in Psychology (A), Business (A), Chemistry (C), and AS levels in Maths (B) and Biology (B). I'm keen on a course that also involves aspects of engineering and is more on the science/environmental side than super artistic. I've struck a problem in that some Unis won't even accept my Alevels as they are now 10 years old and some courses require a full Maths a level. I would also like to aim for a strong uni as I feel I have the ability to push myself. Has anyone got advice on how to proceed. My options as I see them are as follows: Go straight to my local Uni where I am likely to get in as it has a foundation year (architecture and design so allows flexibility if I decide to go more down the design route). Upsides, local so little change needed in life. Downsides there are much better unis I think I could get in with a little push, in saying this I may be able to transfer after foundation year, though I don't know how easy this is. Also, I'm scared to jump straight into a degree after being out of studying so long as I don't want to mess up. Or perhaps take another year to take up some more relevant A levels (such as Maths, Environmental science, and Classical civilizations). I'm hoping I would be able to do this alongside working, so I can save some money for a big move to a Uni and course of my choice. This will prove expensive as I have to fund myself but will open up doors to my ideal unis and courses if I achieve good enough grades. It will also mean I can study straight away and at home, which is ideal for my health and living situation, but could be taxing to take up 3 new kinds of topics alongside working.Finally, take a access to HE diploma before applying. Again, I would hope to work alongside this, but I don't know of any architect-specific diplomas..? Please correct me if I'm wrong! I would probably have to do art/design or something like that. I feel this would illustrate my more artistic side, which I have little qualifications for atm. As far as I understand most access to HE is more vocational though, so I'm not sure if I could study at home/as flexibly so I am worried it would be harder to do while working. The plus of this is it's cheaper than a foundation year, ad I would not need to even pay the loan back should I complete my degree... Immay also need to complete maths on top of this for my ideal course requirements though... I'm really struggling with which avenue to go down. I'm conscious of jumping into another degree I don't complete (I studied Psychology and Neuroscience for over a year before dropping out). I'm also very conscious being a mature disabled student that life is likely going to be a bit more difficult. I would really appreciate advice from architect students as to what skills/route they think would be optimal from their experience studying architecture Thanks in advance!

Hi, I think you should reach out to unis you're interested in and ask them about entry requirements. It differs from uni to uni. I'm currently doing a foundation year in engineering and am looking to move onto architecture next academic year.

You could go to your local uni for the foundation year and then apply to other universities. Most unis will ask you to achieve 70% in your foundation year, but they also look at what modules you're studying. Some unis may still want A level maths if their course is on the technical side.
There are no Access to HE diplomas in architecture. Some unis don't mind which subject the diploma is in while others ask for subject specific diplomas. (Usually Art & Design or Engineering/Science).
Bare in mind that you will probably need to present a portfolio. The only unis that don't ask for one are Bath, UWE Bristol and Liverpool . For Liverpool they ask you to visit the uni for a workshop where they assess your skills.

I too am more interested in technical architecture courses. I've found that architecture courses based in arts departments (surprise, surprise!) tend to be more artsy. I've found two courses that are accredited in both architecture and engineering.

Structural Engineering and Architecture (Sheffield)

Architecture and Environmental Engineering (UWE Bristol)


As for being a disabled student I can chip in there too. I'm visually impaired and I've talked to many universities about disability support and they all say the same kind of thing. My uni support worker made contact with me once at the beginning of the year and I haven't heard from her since. Luckily for me my department and tutors are really great. Truth is a lot of support (note-takers etc) are outsourced and can be a bit hit and miss. I guess this depends on the disability too, I only know about support for visual impairment it may be different for you.

Hope this helps, lemme know if you have any more questions!
You might want to look at art foundation year (FAD) courses that allow you to specialist in architecture/spatial design I would think; @PQ has made a thread here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=5017684 dealing with some frequently asked questions about such courses :smile:

Alternatively you could do an Access to HE course, in any subject, while developing a portfolio independently. I think that would be a more challenging route however, as Access to HE courses are, as I understand, relatively intensively programmed and so you might not have so much time to develop a portfolio on the course. In either case I'd recommend contacting any universities you may wish to apply to and enquire about how best to meet their entry requirements, and include details of any Access to HE or FAD courses you are considering to see if they will accept those.

Something to note is if you have prior study, you may have some more limited funding available to you for degree level study. Particularly if you studied for more than one year of a degree, you will probably need to self fund tuition fees for the first year of a full-time course (although you can still get a maintenance loan). However part-time funding is separately calculated to full-time funding and so prior full-time study shouldn't affect your eligibility for part-time study provided you didn't earn any qualifications from your earlier study. I don't know how many part-time architecture courses there are; I think Oxford Brookes has one?

In terms of disability support, as the above poster advised you should speak with any unis you may wish to apply to. If your disability is recognised under the Equality Act they are required to provide reasonable adjustments for you as well! You can also apply for disabled students allowance (DSA) which is used to pay the costs for any accessibility measures that may need to be implemented to help your study (e.g. specialist software, recording equipment, scribes, etc, depending on your needs, which the uni will discuss with your before you apply for it).
(edited 3 years ago)
There are a handful of part time Architecture BA courses that might be a better option than a FT route given your previous study. Part time undergraduate funding is available for anything up to 13 (? or 15 I can't remember exactly) years and there's part 1 ARB/RIBA degrees that have part time options - the main one I'm aware of is https://www.brookes.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/architecture/

It would still require a portfolio to apply but that's the case for most architecture courses - architecture is fundamentally a design based degree and career so if you're more interested in the mechanics and engineering aspects then architecture might not be the right career for you.

As well as FAD courses there are art & design Access to HE Diplomas which might be a better fit if you've been out of education for a while or would prefer to study alongside mainly mature students instead of mainly 18/19 yr olds. For both FAD and Access diplomas you can get a tuition fee loan through an Advanced Learner Loan (which for an Access diploma is written off once you get a degree) but there's no funding for living costs.

Another option would be to try to find work in architectural practice and then train up via this route: https://www.brookes.ac.uk/architecture/riba-studio/
Reply 4
Original post by powerpuffgorl
Hi, I think you should reach out to unis you're interested in and ask them about entry requirements. It differs from uni to uni. I'm currently doing a foundation year in engineering and am looking to move onto architecture next academic year.

You could go to your local uni for the foundation year and then apply to other universities. Most unis will ask you to achieve 70% in your foundation year, but they also look at what modules you're studying. Some unis may still want A level maths if their course is on the technical side.
There are no Access to HE diplomas in architecture. Some unis don't mind which subject the diploma is in while others ask for subject specific diplomas. (Usually Art & Design or Engineering/Science).
Bare in mind that you will probably need to present a portfolio. The only unis that don't ask for one are Bath, UWE Bristol and Liverpool . For Liverpool they ask you to visit the uni for a workshop where they assess your skills.

I too am more interested in technical architecture courses. I've found that architecture courses based in arts departments (surprise, surprise!) tend to be more artsy. I've found two courses that are accredited in both architecture and engineering.

Structural Engineering and Architecture (Sheffield)

Architecture and Environmental Engineering (UWE Bristol)


As for being a disabled student I can chip in there too. I'm visually impaired and I've talked to many universities about disability support and they all say the same kind of thing. My uni support worker made contact with me once at the beginning of the year and I haven't heard from her since. Luckily for me my department and tutors are really great. Truth is a lot of support (note-takers etc) are outsourced and can be a bit hit and miss. I guess this depends on the disability too, I only know about support for visual impairment it may be different for you.

Hope this helps, lemme know if you have any more questions!

Just to chip in, UCL (Engineering & Architectural Design), Nottingham (Architecture and Environmental Design) & Leeds (Architecture MEng) also offer joint accreditation pathways, in case any of those are better suited to you.
Original post by TBC1
Just to chip in, UCL (Engineering & Architectural Design), Nottingham (Architecture and Environmental Design) & Leeds (Architecture MEng) also offer joint accreditation pathways, in case any of those are better suited to you.

Thank you
Reply 6
Hi Avril,How did you get on in the end?Got any advice or words of wisdom from your experience?I would of thought that university's, specifically offering architecture courses should be chomping at the bit, to try and get you onboard considering how much scope for improvement there is in accessibility incorporated architecture.

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