Architecture A levels & Requirements/Aptitude?

(137 Posts)
teta Thu 09-May-19 14:11:15

I’m posting this on behalf of dd2 currently in year 10. And I’m generally looking for advice from anyone with experience or knowledge. She’s expected to do well in her GCSEs and attends a very academic school. Good at Art and Maths and has always been highly creative and interested in design from a very young age. Also very astute and I suspect would be very good in business.
She’s not sure what she wants to do and her school is very much into professional jobs based on Maths and Sciences. I’ve been thinking about Architecture for her but know absolutely nothing about it. Would she be the right sort of person for a career in this?

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BubblesBuddy Fri 10-May-19 10:22:26

We know quite a few Architects and DH is a Structural Engineer.

Firstly, is she interested in how people live? In spaces? In the work environment or how leisure spaces are designed? It’s not just about subjects. Essentially it’s about the built environment. Take her to see iconic buildings and develop s critical eye for use of space and what could be improved.

Physics is good for Architecture. There are not always enough jobs to go round though so be realistic. Not everyone gets to work for the top firms.

BubblesBuddy Fri 10-May-19 10:32:47

Forgot to say: There is excellent careers advice on the RIBA website. Do have a look at this and then you could look at university courses and entry requirements. Lots of small architects don’t make much money and running your own business is tough. Business acumen is certainly useful but possibly not running your own business to begin with. DH always likes commercially aware engineers. So it’s not a bad trait at all! You also need confident people to pitch for work and work with clients.

teta Fri 10-May-19 12:51:13

Thank you for responding Bubbles.
She’s very confident, very well liked and popular so that’s not a issue.
Physics may well be a issue as that is her very worst subject. Not helped by having dreadful teachers. We are addressing that problem currently though.
I will go check out the Riba website now.
Just one question do the architects with a physics background do better than the ones without?

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BubblesBuddy Fri 10-May-19 14:54:31

No. Physics isn’t essential. Could she do Technology? Or Geography? Some Architecture courses are quite maths/science based but some are far more arty. Often Art and Maths are a good combination but check what universities want but usually a portfolio is required.

Good architecture schools are: Bath, Sheffield, UCL and many others! The Complete University Guide is a good source of information. You need to look at employability stats because Architects must complete Part 2 beyond a degree and employment/training placement is then vital. It takes about 7 years in all.

BubblesBuddy Fri 10-May-19 14:57:25

About Physics: some Architects stray into calculations for beams and other work structural engineers do. Therefore this is where physics might be useful. Definitely not essential. Sorry to drip feed! Keep thinking of extra info!

teta Fri 10-May-19 18:08:50

bubbles Bath do insist on a A* in physics gcse it seems. And all A & A* for A level.

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bpisok Fri 10-May-19 18:19:14

Physics is needed because architects need to design something that is buildable and is cost effective. So a basic understanding is important.
Then other useful one is Computer Science

MariaNovella Fri 10-May-19 20:27:19

The direction of travel, at an international level, for architectural training is more physics and more engineering in addition to the art/design side. Tomorrow’s architects will be well grounded in both aspects.

My DD is also Year 10 and interested in architecture. She is doing a 2 week summer school in July.

teta Fri 10-May-19 21:13:19

Where is she doing the course Marianovella?
You obviously know what you’re talking about.
Where can I found out more about the international aspect?
I’m asking because Dd was born in Asia and attends a international school where her friends are mostly from overseas . She also has said she wants to live in Asia ( or at least in London) and has a very international outlook.

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MariaNovella Fri 10-May-19 21:20:00

I’ve pm’d you a link.

MariaNovella Fri 10-May-19 21:21:01

There are many summer schools for budding architects, mostly though for Year 11 onwards.

MarchingFrogs Fri 10-May-19 21:24:13

RIBA website:

Where 'art' of some description is either advantageous or required, it is usually Art which is wanted, not DT.

Perhaps your DD could try to get to your nearest School of Architecture's degree show (usually sometime in june and open to the publoc)? The list of validated courses / institutions is on the RIBA website.

Also some discussion re the various schools etc on TSR:

BubblesBuddy Sat 11-May-19 10:12:49

Engineers will continue to do Engineering and it’s them who need Physics. Architects do not need it at A level for many courses. Most Architects would not go near structural engineering. They don’t carry the insurance for starters! Unless they are a huge practice of course. I’d love to see an Architect do the engineering for The Shard or any huge development for example. It just won’t happen!

Terra: Bath is a (the) top choice and can be choosy and specific about what they want. There are lots of other courses. Years ago Computer Science was not even invented. For many architects, computer science is irrelevant. No architect I know has studied it! Most did Maths and Art plus one more. Many courses really won’t worry too much about the third subject. Therefore study something she really likes. With solutions needed for climate changes, Geography makes some sense to increase awareness. Technology is good too. If she’s less good at sciences, it won’t be a deal breaker.

BubblesBuddy Sat 11-May-19 10:17:17

The student room is largely inhabited by students and it’s of limited value. Check what RIBA puts on for young people. They are a brilliant resource.

MariaNovella Sat 11-May-19 10:29:07

Bubbles - you are not up to date. Architects have increasingly been signing off on projects earlier and earlier, leaving engineers to take over. The response of architects is to double qualify. This is a worldwide trend.

MariaNovella Sat 11-May-19 10:30:05

Talk to the lawyers and accountants that serve the architecture profession - very enlightening!

teta Sat 11-May-19 11:24:21

How does double qualifying work Maria?
Also how long would it take? Bearing in mind qualifying as a architect takes 7 years.
Thank you very much for the pm. I’ll start looking into that now.
Bubbles Dd wants to do Biology A level as well as Maths and Art. It does look as though it’s important for her to get a A* in Physics gcse though. I am really glad that I’ve started looking into this now as I really didn’t realise the importance of Physics.

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MariaNovella Sat 11-May-19 12:11:25

Talk to the lawyers and accountants that serve the architecture profession - very enlightening!

MariaNovella Sat 11-May-19 12:16:07

Some people do two degrees and in other countries there are new double degree architecture plus engineering degrees. TBH this is a recent trend but a real one and what you need to bear in mind at this stage is that art alone with no maths/physics is not the brain training trend for architects. IMO based on all the degree programmes I’ve looked at and the professionals I’ve talked to, a future architecture student needs great hand drawing skills and qualifications in maths/physics/history of art/art

BubblesBuddy Sat 11-May-19 18:33:02

Honestly teta: you will not find many double qualifying degrees here! We have very high standards for engineering and to be a Chartered Engineer takes around 7 years too. MEng (4 years) then at least 3 years professional training pre becoming Chartered. Many structural engineers will take longer. In this country, Engineers who are not Chartered will not sign off structural designs for complex buildings. What Maria says is not what happens here so don’t think for one minute many people are Chartered Engineers and Chartered Architects! They simply are not! We keep the disciplines separate for very good reasons.

My DH, as head of an Engineering Consultancy pays in excess of £100,000 pa for insurance. If they were architects and did complex structural work without having a Chartered Engineer’s input, they would almost certainly violate their insurance. There is nothing wrong with Architects understanding engineering principles, but they will not design the engineering solutions for most projects in this country. The rest of the world might be different but qualified UK engineers work worldwide, with good reason! It takes years to get to the competence levels required.

If DD can do Maths A level, with Art and Biology then that sounds fine. I will see if I can locate courses which are less demanding of physics at GCSE! Please don’t think doing two degrees is the way forward. It really isn’t! There is architectural engineering but you run the risk of being not qualified in either for a long time.

BubblesBuddy Sat 11-May-19 18:34:08

You truly don’t need History of Art! Find that at a bog standard comprehensive!

Kernobhead Sat 11-May-19 18:37:46

I’ve worked in construction for over 20 years and have never heard of architects signing off structural designs. That is the job of the engineer. I’ve also not seen too much evidence of architects attempting to design efficiently! Often the engineer suggests changes to the designs to make them buildable and cost effective!

LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Sat 11-May-19 18:38:44

I’ve a few engineers in the family and work with a lot of architects. The engineers are more structured and logical - the architects are more highly strung and not always practical (hence the engineers grumble about them a lot!).

Kernobhead Sat 11-May-19 18:41:21

Architects generally have amazing handwriting!

Seriously though, architecture is a great career, and a great architect is a huge asset to a project, just don’t let them loose on calculations.

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