How to choose the best architecture school?

Choosing an architecture school: 

 

Introduction

 

How to choose the best architecture school?

 

Choosing the best architecture school, where you will start your formal education to qualify as an architect can be quite daunting. So, we have written this article to help you out a bit.

Now, the best architecture school for you will have to meet requirements that are unique and personal to you. This article lists things to consider and also has a handy spreadsheet to help in your search.

 

Scroll to the end to download this article as a handy PDF guide!

Location

location

These are some things you should be thinking about in terms of where the best architecture school for you is located:

  • Would you like to move away from home or commute to your university of choice?
  • Do you prefer a campus based or a city-based university?
  • How big is the university? Is it well connected and accessible?
  • What sort of accommodation arrangements are available? Would you like to stay in halls of residence or in private accommodation?
  • Has the university you are interested in got places that spark some architectural inspiration? (These could be historic museums, galleries, exhibitions, or even some cool spots that might help you relax and unwind after all the studying you will be doing.)

Your interests

your interests

Ask yourself what type of course would suit you. Think of the most ideal learning environment that you would thrive in. Perhaps a school with a more conceptual course structure appeals to you rather than a theoretical one.

As you write up your personal statement about why you wish to pursue architecture, you will have already identified some of the things that excite you the most about architecture.

Maybe it is the design process that you wish to dive deep into with sketching, conceptualising, model making and so much more! It could be that learning about the history and theory of architecture appeals to you. Or perhaps you would enjoy getting into the ‘nitty gritty’ of building design by being on site and working up technical details.

Look out for the aspects that matter to you when you are browsing through the courses being offered.

Qualified courses

qualified courses

As you may already know, studying to become an architect requires you to complete Part 1 (a bachelors degree typically 3 years), Part 2 (a masters degree typically 2 years) and Part 3 qualifications alongside gaining professional practical experience for a minimum of 24 months.

Depending on your unique situation, you may decide to complete all your architecture education in one place or perhaps complete each stage at a different architecture school.

So, it is very important to find out if the schools you wish to study at are offering qualified courses that will give you the right qualifications on completion.

There are various professional bodies and institutions for different sectors of the industry. These decide whether the courses on offer are compliant with the requirements needed for you to qualify as a professional working in the industry. 

We have listed some of the main qualifying bodies here:

To save you time searching for the right courses, we have put together a spreadsheet with all the qualified architecture and architecture technology courses available in the UK.

Use our qualified courses spreadsheet to see what architecture schools will offer you ARB prescribed, RIBA qualified and CIAT accredited courses. 

Please Note: This sheet was created with information and links available in October 2022.

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How to choose the best architecture school
Digimap

Our complete guide and architecture course spreadsheet as seen above, can be downloaded by clicking the button below:

Course structure

course structure

Once you have a list of your potential architecture schools that offer qualified courses, gather up some information on how the courses are structured. You will typically find this on the architecture school’s website. Make sure you look for the year you will be applying for. 

Each architecture course will be broken up into modules or units. Some schools may specialise in one area more than others. So, it is imperative that you do your research on what course modules are on offer. 

Some things to consider:

  • Do the course modules/units cover your areas of interest?
  • Are there any site visits, travel opportunities or competitions on offer?
  • What facilities and workshops does the architecture department have? 
  • What is the length of the course? 
  • Are there options for doing a placement year or a year abroad? 
  • What is the average class/studio size?
  • Are there any additional costs mentioned?
  • Is there an option to do a foundation year related to your course, to help you better prepare?
  • Can you switch pathways easily? 

Support facilities

support facilities

After having checked the course structure and requirements, you may want to browse through the wider support available at the university.

For instance:

  • Does the school provide support and wellbeing facilities?
  • What is the Student Union like? Are there any sports facilities or societies that interest you?
  • Are there any scholarships or grants available should you need them?
  • What career related resources are available? (This could be CV help, placements, interview practice, job help etc)
  • Will you receive adequate support after graduating?

Subject Specific League Tables

subject league tables

You can use league tables to give you a general idea of what universities are providing architecture related courses. They will mostly display data on student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. This may help you compare your potential architecture schools. 

As these tables are created from a data point of view, what matters specifically to you may not be reflected or represented here.

The following are links to some architecture league tables:

Architecture Rankings 2023 (thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk)

Best UK universities for architecture – league table | Architecture | The Guardian

QS World University Rankings for Architecture and Built Environment 2022 | Top Universities

Student satisfaction

student satisfaction

There are also surveys that are conducted on students’ satisfaction with their course. These could be quite useful in helping you make a decision as a prospective student. 

The National Student Survey is one example that gathers student opinions from every UK university and many colleges.

National Student Survey – NSS – Office for Students

TEF Ratings

tef ratings

The teaching and learning outcomes at universities and colleges are assessed by The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Their ratings include either a Provisional, Bronze, Silver or Gold award.

You can find out more here:

Teaching – Office for Students

Course Search and Comparison

course search

There are numerous course finding websites that have comparison tools to help you narrow down your choices. They often summarise key stats from the university website and display helpful student reviews.

Some even offer the feature to create a shortlist of your choices.

Most of these websites integrate the data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), theNational Student Survey and other sources to make great tools for searching and comparing courses.

Check them out:

Discover Uni Home | Discover Uni

Find and Compare the Best University & Degree Courses – The Uni Guide

Uni Compare | University

Compare the Best University Degrees Courses UK | Whatuni

Degree Course Search: UK Rankings (universitycompare.com)

World’s Top Universities Comparison Tool & Directory | Top Universities

Open days and events

open days

You may find that visiting the architecture school will be the most helpful in getting to know its atmosphere and environment. 

Attending open days and even graduate showcases can be great opportunities for you to get to know the students and faculty and ask them about their experiences. This way you will be able to familiarise yourself with the people already at the school. 

You may also gain some valuable insights into the expected workload, the facilities that are most utilised and more.

So be sure to look out for any open days, graduate showcases or any other relevant programs or events set up by the architecture schools you are interested in!

Tips

tips

To summarise:

Make a list of the universities that you wish to know more about. If you are unsure where to start, seek out universities that are in commutable distance to you. You can also use course finder websites or even subject specific league tables.

Use our handy qualified courses list to see if your chosen architecture schools offer qualified courses.

Go to the school’s website and research the course you want to study. 

Search online for student reviews and testimonials posted in recent years. 

Attend virtual and on-site open days to get a feel for the place you will be studying and living in for the next three or more years.

Try to see all the facilities and workshops provided by the architecture school. 

Don’t forget to scope out the wider university facilities, like the student union, sports etc.

Go to end of year graduation showcases to see what kind of work previous graduates have produced. This will help you get an idea of what will be expected of you.

Speak to current students, architecture faculty or recent graduates to get to know more about their experiences.

You might also be interested in:

 

We have lots of helpful architecture student content. Be sure to check it out:

starting-out architecture student
how to survive architecture school

Download the Guide!

 

Download this helpful article and our Qualified Courses spreadsheet as a pdf to keep for reference later.

​Conclusion

 

We hope this post helped in your hunt for the best architecture school for you.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

 

 

Your Comments

 

Have you decided what architecture school will be right for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Also, feel free to share your own tips on finding the best architecture school.

Thank you!

Author

Written by Valanne Fernandes, a Part 1 Architecture graduate. Valanne is a content creator with First In Architecture, spending her time researching, writing and designing inspiring new content for the website.

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