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Study architecture and the built environment

Is architecture the right degree for you? Use this guide to find out everything you need to know about this subject.

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Studying architecture at university requires you to be hard-working, creative and logical. If you are fascinated by buildings, design and infrastructure, this could be the right course for you. To help you decide, we’ve answered some of the key questions you need to consider before applying for an architecture degree. This guide is here to give you inspiration and the key information you need to proceed with your interests in this competitive field.


What is an architecture degree?

In its simplest sense, architecture is the design and construction of buildings, combining art, mathematics, science and logistics. During an architecture degree, you will learn how to draw accurate designs of buildings either by hand or with computer software. You may study modules such as sustainable architecture and building for the future. You will also attend classes in mathematics, physics, engineering, computer science and art. Architecture degrees are notoriously challenging, but also highly rewarding.


How long is an architecture degree?

Typically, an undergraduate architecture degree takes three to four years to complete. After graduating, you will be expected to do one year of practical work experience before studying architecture at postgraduate level. This will generally take two years to complete, followed by another year of work experience.


Some countries may require you to pass an examination offered by an official architecture board or council. In the UK for example, this certified body is the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and in the USA, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Ideally you want your degree to be accredited by one of these official organisations so that your qualifications will be easily recognized certified and acknowledged.


Overall, architecture courses can take you up to seven or eight years to complete, before you become fully certified. You need to make sure that you are committed to becoming an architect and can put in the effort and perseverance needed to succeed in the industry. While this might seem like a long time, it is understandable considering that architects carry a great deal of responsibility, ensuring that buildings are functional and safe for use by humans.


Find out more about preparing for postgraduate study.


What subjects do I need to study architecture?

As an architecture degree will involve mathematics and science, some universities may require you to have studied these subjects at school/college. However, in general, you will need five GCSE’s (or equivalent) with grades A* to C. You might also be asked to provide a portfolio of designs/drawings at A-level (or equivalent) to demonstrate your artistic skills. This may be requested as part of your application or at interview stages. Remember that universities can have different entry requirements so you must check with the institution.


Types of architecture degrees

There are several types of architects with specialist skills in different areas, so have a look at the list below to see which stands out to you most.


Landscape architecture degree

Love the outdoors and green spaces? Landscape architects construct and design just that. From parks, gardens, housing estates, walkways to the choice of flowers and plants, landscape architects create visually pleasing environments for people and communities. To succeed in this area, you need to be:

  • Imaginative
  • Creative
  • Personable
  • Excellent communicator
  • Artistic
  • Logical


You should also have knowledge of environmental and conservation issues to support your designs.


Not sure which skills you have, and which job might suit you best? Check out our guide on finding a degree and career to suit your personality.


Interior architecture degree

You can study architecture with interior design, as offered by London Metropolitan University but this is a separate field to traditional architecture and has more of a focus on the interiors of existing buildings.


Urban planning

This type of architecture focuses more on the design of the built environment such as the construction of towns and cities. Essentially, it is the design of urban spaces. In this line of work, you will also consider the impact of your plans on communities who will be working and living in the area.


Each specialisation may be offered as modules during an architecture degree to enable students to further explore their interests. Make sure you check which topics are offered by the institutions you’re interested in as these can differ considerably.


What jobs can I get with an architecture degree?

An architecture degree will equip you with a broad range of specialist skills that will be valuable for a range of careers. Some of the most common professions to follow an architecture degree include:

  • Architect
  • Town planner
  • Urban designer
  • Landscape architect
  • Construction manager
  • Surveyor
  • Interior and spatial designer
  • Restoration architect
  • Artist
  • Furniture designer
  • Production designer


What do architects earn?

It really depends on where you choose to work as an architect but the below will give you an idea of salary expectations:



Architectural assistants (part 1*) - GBP 18,000 to GBP 22,000

Architectural assistants (part 2) - GBP 35,000

Qualified and experienced architect (part 3) - GBP 45,000 plus

(Source: CV Library)


* In the UK, architecture degrees tend to have three phases:

Part 1: Undergraduate degree + professional experience

Part 2: Master’s degree + professional experience

Part 3: Final exam + certified by accredited board



USD 44,000 to USD 104,000

In the USA, your salary will also depend on which state you are working in.



Entry level: CAD 39,000

Senior architects: CAD 143,000

(Source: Neuvoo)


Best universities to study architecture abroad


Want to see more universities and architecture courses? Use the Hotcourses Abroad course matcher tool to find exactly what you’re looking for. Plus, stay in the loop with all international student news so that you remain well-informed when choosing where to study abroad.

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