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Not sure about architecture anymore...

Hi,

Is anyone currently studying architecture at uni?? Can you tell me what it's like, how it's taught, and what uni???

I've been doing some research and it's 7 years to become a proper architect....and apparently it's not paid well? Just need some pros for why I should keep working towards it.
Original post by marsoo
Hi,

Is anyone currently studying architecture at uni?? Can you tell me what it's like, how it's taught, and what uni???

I've been doing some research and it's 7 years to become a proper architect....and apparently it's not paid well? Just need some pros for why I should keep working towards it.


Are you doing A levels and currently researching courses or are you already at uni?

@Pedr0 any thoughts?
Reply 2
i'll try and answer based on my experience (but bear in mind different unis probably do things differently. i stayed at the same uni - Cardiff - for Bsc and MArch so i have no insight into how courses may differ). sorry if i ramble a bit

overall career path:

usually 3 years undergrad, 2 years masters, with minimum 24 months of practical experience that can commence any time after finishing bachelors, then a Pgcert or PgDip exam to become fully chartered. so yes minimum 7 years

After bachelors you will have a RIBA Part 1 exemption and be able to work as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant, after masters Part 2 Architectural Assistant, after the PgDip you'll be an architect

to be brutally honest yes salaries are pretty **** for the most part especially fresh out of uni with little office experience. Median salaries are around £22.5k for a Part 1 position outside of London per 2023 RIBA salary guide, around £28k for Part 2, £30k for fully chartered (for comparison, the usual starting salary for engineering grads on grad schemes is also around £30k and that's after only 3 or 4 years of uni).

course structure:

apart from maybe the first semester you'll be given usually 1 big design project that takes up all of the semester (or a whole year in the case of final year of bachelors and masters). you'll probably get to pick a theme or a site to work with (you might not be given this choice in first year though). examples of themes could include - alternative typologies for housing; water and how people use it; low carbon architecture. basically these projects will constitute your portfolio, which you will use to apply for jobs once you finish. so throughout your time at uni you can build a portfolio which can appeal to firms that specialise in certain types of architecture (e.g., Architype is a well known firm for sustainability; Haworth Tompkins is known for their work with mixed-use and theatre/culture projects; Mikhail Riches is known for sustainable housing)

you'll have a few hours of lectures a week on architectural history (different styles such as classical, modernism, postmodernism, etc); theory (tectonics, form, spatial organisation, etc); and technology (structural calculations, thermal comfort, material properties, daylight analysis, etc). but not much of your time will be spent in lectures

you'll spend most of your time working on your design project, it'll go through different stages over the course of the term or year, like site analysis, initial sketches, developed design etc. this is usually done in studio spaces in the uni which can be fun and great for collaboration and learning from your peers (you can work at home too though).

my uni didn't teach industry standard software at all which was annoying, had to learn it myself while using it for projects. other unis might do a better job though


assessment:

your design project tutor will assess your progress weekly at a tutorial, usually around 30mins to 1 hour long. they'll guide you to an extent on how to proceed BUT they won't hold your hand too much, you're expected to steer your project yourself and to bring informed questions and ideas to the meeting

once or twice a term you'll have a 'design review' or a 'crit' where you pin up your work alongside your peers and present your project to your tutor and one or more guest reviewers, who will then give you feedback (depending on the reviewer, this can be nice and constructive, or just a straight up roast). this is a pretty nerve-wracking and infamous part of the degree

you'll probably have to write an essay at some point each year about history/theory or some such, and you might have to do a research based dissertation in final year of either undergrad or masters.

your technology module will likely be assessed alongside your design project (ie you do the necessary calculations and technology report etc. as they apply to your specific design proposal)

the degree is almost entirely coursework based, I think I only had to do one (very easy MCQ) exam in first year for technology.


what it's like:

from what i gathered people on other degrees can afford to be somewhat laid-back for a good portion of the year as some of their work will be formative, and only exams or big projects are summative. in architecture maybe the first sem might be formative but it will carry over into your summative coursework so you need to be constantly putting in consistent effort every week throughout the academic year, to make sure you get a good mark at the end

i don't know if this is still the case but there was a weird glorification of overwork during my undergraduate, people staying in studio till like 6-7am, doing allnighters was basically normalised. culture seems to have gotten better surrounding this, i know my uni is aware of it now and started locking studio doors after 9pm to get people to start having more healthy work-life balances

deadline time is always going to be incredibly stressful and comes multiple times a year - before each crit (1 or 2 per term), and before final submission.

even though there's a lot of work it is really satisfying to take a project from just a vague theme and a blank site, to a fully developed project with nice images, models, and construction drawings. i think if you want to like architecture at uni you have to like this process, and you have to be motivated by the feeling of making something you can be proud of

a lot of self directed learning is required because you'll need to do specific reading related to how you want to develop your project - tutors and lectures can't do that for you


hopefully this helps a bit, let me know if any questions :smile:
Fantastic post @Pedr0 :biggrin:
Original post by Pedr0
i'll try and answer based on my experience (but bear in mind different unis probably do things differently. i stayed at the same uni - Cardiff - for Bsc and MArch so i have no insight into how courses may differ). sorry if i ramble a bit
overall career path:

usually 3 years undergrad, 2 years masters, with minimum 24 months of practical experience that can commence any time after finishing bachelors, then a Pgcert or PgDip exam to become fully chartered. so yes minimum 7 years

After bachelors you will have a RIBA Part 1 exemption and be able to work as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant, after masters Part 2 Architectural Assistant, after the PgDip you'll be an architect

to be brutally honest yes salaries are pretty **** for the most part especially fresh out of uni with little office experience. Median salaries are around £22.5k for a Part 1 position outside of London per 2023 RIBA salary guide, around £28k for Part 2, £30k for fully chartered (for comparison, the usual starting salary for engineering grads on grad schemes is also around £30k and that's after only 3 or 4 years of uni).

course structure:

apart from maybe the first semester you'll be given usually 1 big design project that takes up all of the semester (or a whole year in the case of final year of bachelors and masters). you'll probably get to pick a theme or a site to work with (you might not be given this choice in first year though). examples of themes could include - alternative typologies for housing; water and how people use it; low carbon architecture. basically these projects will constitute your portfolio, which you will use to apply for jobs once you finish. so throughout your time at uni you can build a portfolio which can appeal to firms that specialise in certain types of architecture (e.g., Architype is a well known firm for sustainability; Haworth Tompkins is known for their work with mixed-use and theatre/culture projects; Mikhail Riches is known for sustainable housing)

you'll have a few hours of lectures a week on architectural history (different styles such as classical, modernism, postmodernism, etc); theory (tectonics, form, spatial organisation, etc); and technology (structural calculations, thermal comfort, material properties, daylight analysis, etc). but not much of your time will be spent in lectures

you'll spend most of your time working on your design project, it'll go through different stages over the course of the term or year, like site analysis, initial sketches, developed design etc. this is usually done in studio spaces in the uni which can be fun and great for collaboration and learning from your peers (you can work at home too though).

my uni didn't teach industry standard software at all which was annoying, had to learn it myself while using it for projects. other unis might do a better job though


assessment:

your design project tutor will assess your progress weekly at a tutorial, usually around 30mins to 1 hour long. they'll guide you to an extent on how to proceed BUT they won't hold your hand too much, you're expected to steer your project yourself and to bring informed questions and ideas to the meeting

once or twice a term you'll have a 'design review' or a 'crit' where you pin up your work alongside your peers and present your project to your tutor and one or more guest reviewers, who will then give you feedback (depending on the reviewer, this can be nice and constructive, or just a straight up roast). this is a pretty nerve-wracking and infamous part of the degree

you'll probably have to write an essay at some point each year about history/theory or some such, and you might have to do a research based dissertation in final year of either undergrad or masters.

your technology module will likely be assessed alongside your design project (ie you do the necessary calculations and technology report etc. as they apply to your specific design proposal)

the degree is almost entirely coursework based, I think I only had to do one (very easy MCQ) exam in first year for technology.


what it's like:

from what i gathered people on other degrees can afford to be somewhat laid-back for a good portion of the year as some of their work will be formative, and only exams or big projects are summative. in architecture maybe the first sem might be formative but it will carry over into your summative coursework so you need to be constantly putting in consistent effort every week throughout the academic year, to make sure you get a good mark at the end

i don't know if this is still the case but there was a weird glorification of overwork during my undergraduate, people staying in studio till like 6-7am, doing allnighters was basically normalised. culture seems to have gotten better surrounding this, i know my uni is aware of it now and started locking studio doors after 9pm to get people to start having more healthy work-life balances

deadline time is always going to be incredibly stressful and comes multiple times a year - before each crit (1 or 2 per term), and before final submission.

even though there's a lot of work it is really satisfying to take a project from just a vague theme and a blank site, to a fully developed project with nice images, models, and construction drawings. i think if you want to like architecture at uni you have to like this process, and you have to be motivated by the feeling of making something you can be proud of

a lot of self directed learning is required because you'll need to do specific reading related to how you want to develop your project - tutors and lectures can't do that for you


hopefully this helps a bit, let me know if any questions :smile:


I've learnt so many insights from your post! Thank you for taking your time writing it.
Original post by Pedr0
i'll try and answer based on my experience (but bear in mind different unis probably do things differently. i stayed at the same uni - Cardiff - for Bsc and MArch so i have no insight into how courses may differ). sorry if i ramble a bit
overall career path:

usually 3 years undergrad, 2 years masters, with minimum 24 months of practical experience that can commence any time after finishing bachelors, then a Pgcert or PgDip exam to become fully chartered. so yes minimum 7 years

After bachelors you will have a RIBA Part 1 exemption and be able to work as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant, after masters Part 2 Architectural Assistant, after the PgDip you'll be an architect

to be brutally honest yes salaries are pretty **** for the most part especially fresh out of uni with little office experience. Median salaries are around £22.5k for a Part 1 position outside of London per 2023 RIBA salary guide, around £28k for Part 2, £30k for fully chartered (for comparison, the usual starting salary for engineering grads on grad schemes is also around £30k and that's after only 3 or 4 years of uni).

course structure:

apart from maybe the first semester you'll be given usually 1 big design project that takes up all of the semester (or a whole year in the case of final year of bachelors and masters). you'll probably get to pick a theme or a site to work with (you might not be given this choice in first year though). examples of themes could include - alternative typologies for housing; water and how people use it; low carbon architecture. basically these projects will constitute your portfolio, which you will use to apply for jobs once you finish. so throughout your time at uni you can build a portfolio which can appeal to firms that specialise in certain types of architecture (e.g., Architype is a well known firm for sustainability; Haworth Tompkins is known for their work with mixed-use and theatre/culture projects; Mikhail Riches is known for sustainable housing)

you'll have a few hours of lectures a week on architectural history (different styles such as classical, modernism, postmodernism, etc); theory (tectonics, form, spatial organisation, etc); and technology (structural calculations, thermal comfort, material properties, daylight analysis, etc). but not much of your time will be spent in lectures

you'll spend most of your time working on your design project, it'll go through different stages over the course of the term or year, like site analysis, initial sketches, developed design etc. this is usually done in studio spaces in the uni which can be fun and great for collaboration and learning from your peers (you can work at home too though).

my uni didn't teach industry standard software at all which was annoying, had to learn it myself while using it for projects. other unis might do a better job though


assessment:

your design project tutor will assess your progress weekly at a tutorial, usually around 30mins to 1 hour long. they'll guide you to an extent on how to proceed BUT they won't hold your hand too much, you're expected to steer your project yourself and to bring informed questions and ideas to the meeting

once or twice a term you'll have a 'design review' or a 'crit' where you pin up your work alongside your peers and present your project to your tutor and one or more guest reviewers, who will then give you feedback (depending on the reviewer, this can be nice and constructive, or just a straight up roast). this is a pretty nerve-wracking and infamous part of the degree

you'll probably have to write an essay at some point each year about history/theory or some such, and you might have to do a research based dissertation in final year of either undergrad or masters.

your technology module will likely be assessed alongside your design project (ie you do the necessary calculations and technology report etc. as they apply to your specific design proposal)

the degree is almost entirely coursework based, I think I only had to do one (very easy MCQ) exam in first year for technology.


what it's like:

from what i gathered people on other degrees can afford to be somewhat laid-back for a good portion of the year as some of their work will be formative, and only exams or big projects are summative. in architecture maybe the first sem might be formative but it will carry over into your summative coursework so you need to be constantly putting in consistent effort every week throughout the academic year, to make sure you get a good mark at the end

i don't know if this is still the case but there was a weird glorification of overwork during my undergraduate, people staying in studio till like 6-7am, doing allnighters was basically normalised. culture seems to have gotten better surrounding this, i know my uni is aware of it now and started locking studio doors after 9pm to get people to start having more healthy work-life balances

deadline time is always going to be incredibly stressful and comes multiple times a year - before each crit (1 or 2 per term), and before final submission.

even though there's a lot of work it is really satisfying to take a project from just a vague theme and a blank site, to a fully developed project with nice images, models, and construction drawings. i think if you want to like architecture at uni you have to like this process, and you have to be motivated by the feeling of making something you can be proud of

a lot of self directed learning is required because you'll need to do specific reading related to how you want to develop your project - tutors and lectures can't do that for you


hopefully this helps a bit, let me know if any questions :smile:

Hii, thanks for the detailed post, would you be able to give info on how much it costs to study architecture (regarding buying materials and computers and software etc.) My loan only just covers accommodation, and doesn't cover living costs, my parents won't give any money and I'm soo worried because I keep seeing people buying really expensive things just to be able to study the course! Please help if you can, thanks
Original post by grace-d6
Hii, thanks for the detailed post, would you be able to give info on how much it costs to study architecture (regarding buying materials and computers and software etc.) My loan only just covers accommodation, and doesn't cover living costs, my parents won't give any money and I'm soo worried because I keep seeing people buying really expensive things just to be able to study the course! Please help if you can, thanks

have a look at this page on the RIBA website if you haven't already, also i would suggest you email the uni you would be attending with these questions cause they'll be able to give a more accurate picture but anyway

computers/software - your uni should have a computer lab with the necessary software installed that you can use but ask them about availability and what software is provided. the main ones you will need:

Autodesk AutoCAD (2D drafting) and/or Autodesk Revit (BIM modelling/drafting). these are industry standard, but in the unlikely event that you do not have access to one or both of them you can get educational licenses for them for free from the Autodesk website

Rhino (parametric modelling/useful for modelling weird curvy shapes). if it's not on the computers your uni may provide you with a license - if not, it's 195 Euros for a student license from the Rhino website

Adobe Suite (mainly Photoshop for image editing, Illustrator for drawing, and InDesign for laying out pinup sheets and portfolio pages). cheaper alternative - Affinity V2 (£160 one time payment)

Sketchup (quick 3D modelling). alternative - Blender (free)

materials - my uni gave £150 per term for materials, whether or not this is enough depends on how many models you plan to make. i didn't make that many compared to others so i never ended up being anywhere near using all of it up. and the uni will most likely have a workshop with all the things you will need for woodwork, laser cutting, etc if needed.

field trips - we had field trips once a year, all of mine were either in the UK or Europe and cost usually around £150-200. Depending on what topic your project relates to you may go further afield eg to Asia or Africa, those trips will probably cost more but I don't know how much

Also you won't need to spend a ton of money on nice pens, pencils, paper, drawing implements etc unless you're absolutely set on doing your drawings by hand. After first year you'll probably be doing most of your drawing/image production in software anyway. Just get a set of pens with different thicknesses like this and you should be good
(edited 13:48)
Architecture is demanding but rewarding. It involves design and technical skills over about 7 years of study and practice. The pay might start low, but it offers a chance to shape environments and make an impact. If you love design and problem-solving, it could be worth it!

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