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Study architecture in the UK

Become an architect – study in the UK

Study architecture in the UK, gain knowledge and experience and become an architect! Keep reading to find out how to do it!

Architecture is a popular subject to study in Poland. However, increasing numbers of young people are deciding to continue their higher education  by going abroad. Where can you study architecture with a Polish matura?

You will find the  largest number of  options in the UK, but it is worth underlining  that the courses offered in Great Britain do not mirror those available in Poland.

Studying architecture in the UK – courses

Architecture degree courses take three years, and can be divided into a number of categories:

Architecture BA – the most popular course by far, and also the most general. It links theory, design and practical experience. The  coursework  covers a broad range of humanistic and scientific subjects. Graduates are  accredited by RIBA – the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Architectural technology –  is based on four main principles:  technology, design, management and practice. The inclusion of management modules prepares students to gain experience of working with  the construction industry, project management  and team work.

Interior architecture and design – designing interiors , but not just  that! The aim of this course is to develop students’ spatial awareness and their skills in finding innovative solutions to problematic spaces.

What are the requirements?

Applying to study architecture in the UK is based on anticipated matura results, rather than actual results. This is because the application deadline is 15 January , months before students sit their matura. The exceptions are the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, who require applications to be submitted in October.

Many universities  demand a language examination certificate , and IELTS is normally the exam of choice, and one which is accepted by every university. It is easy to determine which English language exams the university expects you to pass by going on their internet page and checking language requirements. The minimum IELTS score accepted by British universities is in the range of  6.5-7.

Studying architecture in the UK – do you have to know how to draw?

In order to answer this question, it’s worth separating talent from skill. Being talented at drawing will certainly be useful for a student of architecture, but it’s skill which is key. And as we all know, a skill is something which can be learnt! Much of an architect’s work  is based on taking advantage of specialised programs, which have very little to do with actual drawing.  There is only one conclusion: you will be learning technical drawing on the course in any case, but basic knowledge is invaluable during the application process. You can gain this knowledge by taking part in a workshop organised by Elab  at the Domin school of drawing.

The application documents

Applying to study architecture is, to a great extent, exactly the same as applying to study other subjects. To begin with, applicants set up an account in UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) the  centralised admissions service for individuals who wish to  study an undergraduate course in Great Britain.

Typically, you will need two documents: a Personal Statement  and a Reference Letter. The Personal Statement is  a short document written by the applicant, which explains why they are interested in  a particular course and university, and provides information about their experiences and  achievements, and how these tie in with their chosen field of study.

The Reference letter is written by the applicant’s teacher, and not only provides a supportive summary of the applicant’s educational journey, but also  sets out their predicted matura grades. In the UK, students do not choose the subjects which will be taken into account during the application process, so you need to write down every matura  you will be sitting.

Applications to study architecture also require the presentation of a portfolio of your work. This gives you a wonderful advantage and an  opportunity to stand out from the crowd and  to demonstrate your abilities, individuality, imagination and mastery of techniques.

You do not need to have finished the portfolio by the time you are submitting your application. Universities normally set a later date for sending in your practical work, either by scanning and emailing it or, more rarely, sending it  through the post. There are no general rules about how large your portfolio should be, nor what it should contain.

You will find specific information on a university’s portfolio requirements on its course page, and some universities also  get in touch with individual applicants to provide them with their guidelines and requirements.

It is common for applicants to be invited to an interview once they have submitted their portfolio. Universities tend to be very flexible and normally have no objections to conducting the interview through Skype.

Studying architecture in the UK – preparing your portfolio

If you are not provided with specific  information on what should be included in the portfolio, the question remains how to assemble a portfolio in order to maximise your chances of getting a positive response to your application.

What makes a good portfolio?

  • It’s a collection of your most interesting work, which will be discussed during the interview, and will  demonstrate your ambitions and provide examples of the  areas you are exploring.
  • It will highlight your skills , imagination and your creativity, and show how you  use  a variety of media and methods to express your vision.
  • It will contain examples of your work, which introduce and showcase  your talent and ways of thinking.

Three basic criteria for evaluating your portfolio

  • Your  level of ability when it comes to drawing
  • The different methods you have used in your work
  • Your creative imagination

What should be included in the portfolio?

  • Evidence of an ability to think in spatial terms ( buildings or places the applicant knows at first-hand)
  • Sketches which demonstrate evidence of research and  show how the research shaped and influenced  subsequent ideas
  • It is worth including partially-finished work, in order to illustrate the process ( you can add explanations)
  • You can attach photographs of an installation or a model, in order to clarify scale

What should NOT go into a portfolio

  • Typical architectural drawings

Studying architecture in the UK – the program

What is the program for architecture?

  • the program is designed for applicants who wish to study architecture abroad in 2021, and later
  • workshops run in association with the Domin school of drawing,  focused on helping you to produce a striking and professional portfolio
  • the help and support of a mentor ( namely a current or former student of architecture from the world’s most prestigious universities) in writing a Personal Statement and putting together a portfolio.
  • the guidance and assistance  of an Elab educational consultant, from the beginning to the end of the application process.

Applications (first round) for studying architecture in the UK close on 15 January  of the year in which you will be sitting the matura. Anyone who is intending to start their undergraduate course in 2021 should  therefore begin preparing their application right now.