RIBA Part 3 Exam Question Guide

Part 3 Exam Question Guide 

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



This Part 3 Exam Question Guide is for the RIBA Part 3 course, which is an Advanced Diploma in Professional Practice in Architecture. Once completed, you can register as a fully qualified architect and use the title architect. The final assessment is made up of a case study and exams which are designed to test architectural assistants in a wide variety of positions.

People being examined can be in any size practice, from a large commercial practice, a small one-man band to anything in between. Sometimes people sitting the exam have been architectural assistants for tens of years, other times, people have been working as a part II architectural assistant for the minimum of a year.

The written case study can be a strong suit for people working in small residential based practices, who have had a lot of on-site and project management experience. However, the exam questions can be tricky if you have not been exposed to complicated projects; non-residential, multiple stakeholders with complicated planning and legislative issues.

The Part 3 Handbook by Stephen Brookhouse can be a good starting point for guidance on these questions. as a feasibility style / site analysis scenario can help structure the questions in a more practical way, rather than feeling that you need to list as many different reference points, which may not be relevant to the question.

Below is an expanded reference list taken from the book to help in answering Problem / Scenario Based Question 1.

Part 3 Handbook

Problem/Scenario Based Question 1


The below information is in relation to a time limited exam condition questions paper and not the office-based exam questions. Within this paper, a scenario will be detailed along with a series of questions. The objective of the question and answer is to show both the understanding of relevant legislation and its practical effects.

This is similar to a feasibility although there is more emphasis on Legislation and Programme within the exam questions. For help writing a feasibility for a residential client or developer, check out this article on the Detail Library [https://detail-library.co.uk/architecture-feasibility-study/]

The below outline has been taken from the book and expanded upon to give further details of different key terms.


Looking at the example question in the book:

Question 1 The office has been invited to a meeting with the client to discuss the potential for the site and any regulatory issues that may affect the scheme and the development programme. Study the scenario plan and prepare a short report on the main statutory factors and any other matters that should be considered. Your answer should:

  1. a) refer to the legislation, appropriate available relevant information and various organisations that you would consult with (12 marks); and
  2. b) evaluate the likely effect that relevant statutory procedures will have on the early stages of the development programme (8 marks).

(20 marks in total)

Part A – Legislation


The key to answering the question is using the guide below to reference any possible legislation that may be relevant to the site described and who would need to be consulted.

Part B of the question may require a refocus of the below relevant points of the site, and how anything relevant may affect the early stages of the programme. This part is further detailed in the following section, Part B – Programme.


Possible relevant legislation


Reference points:

Local Plan – What possible things within the Local Plan are relevant to the site? Possible regeneration area, any article 4 directions, other specific land designations.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – This informs the local plan but elements of the NPPF that are relevant to the site and the project will need to be referenced in preparing planning application.

Planning History – Is there any relevant planning history of the site? Possible planning objections, neighbourhood associations to consult, relevant objections or other possible relevant information.


  • Desktop research looking at the local planning authority website
  • Local authority development control
  • Planning consultant
  • Access consultant
  • PR consultant


Section 106 Agreement(s) and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – Most large planning applications will have to deal with levies or development mitigation. It is worth getting familiar with these two. A section 106 agreement [https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Section_106_consultation] is closely linked to negotiations with the council and is highly related to the site, use, size and needs of the neighbouring area. Sometimes this agreement can be in the form of a payment although it may be beneficial for the site to offer something back to the local community, if possible, like providing affordable housing, station entrance, primary school, health centre, communal park, etc.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – [https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Community_infrastructure_levy_CIL] is closely linked to the Section 106 Agreements which is why discussing these as early as possible with the Local Authority can help to shape a project and design. Cities such as London also have a Mayoral CIL on top of the Local Authority’s to possibly bear in mind.



Reference points:

Local Plan



  • Desktop research looking at the local planning authority website – This is used to see if the site is within a conservation area and listed building. Some buildings can also be locally listed. Whilst this means the building is not covered by the Listed Building and Conservation Areas Act 1990, it can mean that the Local Authority with require extra input from a specialist heritage consultant.
  • Local authority conservation officer
  • English Heritage
  • Specialist heritage architect
  • Planning consultant


Reference points:

Land contamination – Could there be possible risk of contaminated land? If the site has historically been used for industrial purposes, even light industrial purposes, there can be a risk of land contamination and need for a further assessment.

Flood risk data – Is the site in a flood risk zone? This can include both surface water flooding as well as risk of flooding from rivers, sea or reservoirs. 

Transport studies – How will this development affect the existing transport network? For possible parking provision, refuse collection, deliveries and if there is any increase visit to site: also if many people are to visit the site in the proposal; how will people get there, are there sufficient public transport means, etc.

Ecology – Is there any potential for bats or other protected species to be on the site? If a site has been abandoned for a long time or in a rural area there may be possibility of protected species within the site. This will require further consultation and possible surveys at specific times of the year. It can be useful to do this as and when, rather than having to wait a further 9 months to get the right time of year.


  • Desktop research – Some local authorities will have specific information detailing if a site has contamination, or if it is a flood zone.
  • Local Authority – The local authority will be able to give further information on what studies will need to be conducted by any specialist consultants to mitigate any risks to future users.
  • Environment Agency – They will be able to give you further information as to the level of contamination, historic contamination to a site as well as the flood risk level to an area.
  • Specialist consultant hydrologist
  • Transport consultant


Reference points:

CDM Regulations – This is relevant from the beginning of a project and the client should be advised of their duties as soon as possible.

Asbestos Regulations, etc.  – An asbestos survey and remediation many be required before any other surveys are conducted.


  • Local authority Environmental Health Department

  • HSE
  • CDM co-ordinator


Reference points:

Local Plan

Central government guidelines


  • Local authority Highways Department
  • Consultant civil engineer


Reference points:

Land Registry data – Where title deeds for a site can be obtained.

Deeds to site – The title deeds of the site should give information to confirm boundaries and any possible covenants, easements, cautions, notices and therefore restrictions on the site.

Utility companies and other stakeholders – This may be relevant if there are any public sewers, overhead cables or substations on or crossing the site. They may require extra exploration and agreements such as build-over applications.



  • Client solicitor

  • Utility companies
  • Specialist surveyor: rights to light – Are there many neighbouring properties that could be affected by reduction in light to existing windows by the development? Further studies and modelling may be required.


Part B – Programme


Example part b as detailed in the book:

b) evaluate the likely effect that relevant statutory procedures will have on the early stages of the development programme (8 marks).

This part of the question is asking for the likely effect of the procedures on the early stages of the development programme. Your task is to explain the activities and possible timescales to your client. This point will be related to the ones in part a, but refer to the programme, possible delays and how identifying issues from the outset can shorten the programme.


  • CDM
  • Title deeds

  • Pre-application advice
  • Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) to ascertain a more certain time frame
  • Public Consultation
  • Putting together a design team base on part a of the question or pre-application advice, if this has not been done prior to pre-application advice
  • Preparation of specialist reports and surveys
  • Application (including type of application and why): registration, public consultation, time for decision (varies)
  • Decision
  • Section 106 Agreement / Community Infrastructure Levy – time to negotiate and agree this as well as integrate any possible design changes could lengthen planning any application.
  • Planning permission: ‘reserved matters’ to be addressed or ‘conditions’ to be met
  • Refusal: appeal (but note the question does not expect you to give full details of
  • appeal procedures)


This will run in parallel to the above planning programme.

  • More time possibly required if the Conservation Officer or English Heritage and comments, changes, further requests for information.


This will run in parallel to the above planning programme.

  • More time possibly required for consultants to comment, make changes, provide further information and further studies to the Planning Officers in relations to, Land contamination, Flood risk, Transport, or Ecology.


This will run in parallel to the above planning programme.

  • Time will be required for surveys and incorporating any findings into the design.
  • Possible unforeseen risks – such as extra a survey discovering extreme contamination that will need longer to remediate.

  • Whilst this does not affect the early stages of the planning process, it can affect the design and timeline of a project.
  • Separate consultation and negotiation with each adjoining owner affected by the works will take.


Answering the Part 3 exam questions can be difficult if your experience in practice is not reflected directly in the questions. However, the questions are there to test background knowledge and understanding what issues may arise and who may need to be consulted.

Using the Part 3 Handbook by Stephen Brookhouse can help in understanding some of the key points which will need to be covered. Looking at the scenario like a feasibility can also help in framing what issues there could be with the site.

Download the PDF Guide:

Download this handy pdf guide for quick reference when working on your Part 3.


Written by Aida Rodriguez-Vega, architect and researcher. Aida keeps busy by carrying out technical research and drawing new details for the ever-growing library and construction detailing books.

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