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The Route To Becoming An Architect In The UK

A key principle of architecture is planning. If you’re thinking of becoming an architect then this article will help you plan your course of action and talk you through the process step-by-step.

“Course of action” is a fitting term to use when it comes to talking about your route to being an architect, as you will be required to study full-time for five years, and much of this study will be practical.

Once you have passed the relevant courses, you will then qualify. And the first thing to stress is that you must be qualified in order to be legally recognized as an architect. The title of architect is protected by law, in order that people know that they are getting an experienced and qualified person who will be able to carry out the work. Now we’ve established that, what are the stages in order to qualify?

RIBA: Part 1

RIBA is the Royal Institute of British Architects, and they approve and monitor your qualification. The first stage to becoming fully qualified is to enrol on a RIBA part 1 undergraduate’s course. RIBA courses are offered by a variety of UK universities. Look at university websites, attend open days and find out what their specific course involves to help inform your choice of what is best for you. Each university will work differently, offering different kinds of study and practical experience, and will have specific areas of specialism and focus.

The RIBA part one is a three year full-time course that lays the groundwork, giving you an overview of architecture. When you sign on to the course you gain free student membership with RIBA.


The course includes one year of practical study in the field. This can either be paid or voluntary work in the UK or abroad. Your university will be helping you acquire this experience. The university will also be monitoring and evaluating your progress over the year. You will be required to keep a record of what you have done during this time, which will be reviewed by a personal study advisor at your university. You’ll also be assigned a mentor from the workplace you’re serving with.

This is a great way of learning about the industry, picking up practical skills and experiences, and allowing you to demonstrate your achievements and comprehension of the industry. 

Depending on your situation, you may want to continue working as part of the design and construction industry for longer than this one year. For instance, a job opportunity may come up with the company you have been working with, and while not being an architect’s position, you may decide you’d like to take the job. Or you may choose to continue your studies to become an architect.

RIBA: Part 2

If you choose the latter option then you can study for RIBA part 2, which you can do as a two year full-time course. This will generally be classed as an undergraduate’s degree by most universities, as you are still viewed as an undergraduate by the architectural industry.

These two years will go into more detailed and complex areas of architecture to further enhance your knowledge. During this time, as well as learning the theory, you will also need to gain two years paid practical experience working in the field, carrying out more complex tasks than you did previously. Again, your university can help you with this. The university will be monitoring and evaluating your progress, and you’ll be required to keep a record of what you have been doing during this time.

RIBA: Part 3

After these two years you can then move to RIBA part 3 which is an examination. You will take a written and oral exam, and you’ll be assessed on your progress over the last two years working in the industry.


Once you have passed this you will have gained RIBA part 3 and you can sign up with the Architectures Registration Board, ARB as an approved architect. You are also eligible to gain chartered membership with RIBA, which entitles you to a range of industry relevant services and gives you access to a national and international network of architects.

If you’ve read this and are keen to get going then it’s time to get checking out university options. To get you started right away, there are a range of part-time and full-time undergraduate courses on offer at Solent University. Good luck.