Architecture FAQs

6th August 14

Abbey College Manchester Architecture FAQs

Back in 2012 we published a very popular blog called ” Want to study Architecture at University?“, and many of you wrote in wanting to know a little bit more on the subject. So we thought it we’d gather together the best and most frequently asked of your questions.

So here we go:

1 Do I have to have A Level Maths?

This used to be a definite YES. But more recently, some universities have been more lenient – you will have to research into which ones. You should definitely have one of Maths or Physics though, there are a lot of both in Architecture. Also, universities like their applicants to have a broad range of subjects ranging from the arts – Art and Design or Graphic Design – and the humanities – Geography of History.

2 Does it really take seven years to become an architect?

It’s complicated, but essentially, yes. It is a three step process: first off, depending on where you chose to study, you will do a three or four year degree course. Once you graduate you will then do a couple of years studying for a Post Graduate Diploma or a Masters Degree. After that you have to take the Royal Institute of British Architects Exams (the RIBAs). In order to take these exams, you must have some sort of work experience. So it is a long course, and you should think carefully before starting an architecture course, but the rewards at the end are definitely worth it.

3 The university I have applied for wants to see a portfolio, what do I do?

Universities that ask to see a portfolio will specify what it is they want you to show. Your best bet is to stick to that. You should put a lot of effort into your portfolio , and do you best to present it professionally. The university will want to see that you can draw, that you are creative and that you can use these skills to communicate visually.

Here’s an example portfolio and some advice from King’s College Cambridge.

4 What sort of things should I buy for my course?

You will need a really good set of drawing pens – Rotring are a good make. You will also need some good mechanical pencils, a metal ruler, an adjustable set square, masking tape – lots and lots of masking tape – a scalpel and a cutting matt at least.

5 People have said I will need a computer, what should I get?

Your university will probably provide computers and software for while you are in class, but you may feel it is a good idea to get one for working at home. It’s not a bad idea to wait until you get to university before you buy one either, as you may get student discount or better deals.

The architecture industry itself is split pretty evenly between PCs and MACs, so it is really up to you which you chose. Each have their pros and cons. PCs are more ubiquitous and getting software for them is easier and cheaper. MACs are more powerful as far as CAD Design and 3D modelling are concerned.

6 Should I get some work experience before I go?

It is not mandatory, but it can’t hurt. It is not like medicine where work experience is virtually compulsory, if you can show your passion for the subject then that’s usually enough.

7. What sort of books can I read to prepare me for life as an architecture student?

101 Things I learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick

BLDGBLOG Book by Geoff Manaugh

Architect’s Pocket Book by Ann Ross

The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture: Comprehensive Edition by Miquel Adria

Metric Handbook: Planning and Design Data by David Adler BSc DIC CEng MICE

Architecture: Form, Space and Order by Francis D. K. Ching

Lessons for Students in Architecture by Herman Hertzberger

So that’s it. We hoped that helps answer some of your more common questions. Don’t be afraid to message us with any other questions, we’re here to help. You might like to think about contacting the universities directly if you have a question about applications or entry requirements, they will have more up to date information than us.

Good luck!

Abbey Manchester
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