Pathways to registration in architectural education have remained unchallenged for almost half a century. Despite radically different circumstances confronting students and architects in the 21st century, professional accreditation bodies still require architecture students to spend five years at university.
In response to the growing questions over the legitimacy of the status quo, The Bartlett School of Architecture has seized the opportunity to implement some of the most significant changes to accredited architectural education in decades. Leading this change is the new Architecture MSci programme: a five-year full-time degree that reframes architectural education nationally by testing new and innovative approaches to architecture as a multidisciplinary, highly integrated, and rapidly evolving profession.
By offering a four-year academic timeframe with a final year in placement, the Architecture MSci programme responds to three key perspectives:
From the students
Students are looking for alternative routes to registration with the potential to increase their earning power at an earlier stage, reduce debt and test their ideas in practice.
Practices want to connect with institutions, utilise their expertise and resources, and are looking for graduates whose skills can be closely aligned with their work.
From the educators
Planetary challenges need vital, real-world issues at the centre of the curriculum, establishing links between academia and practice that allow students to flourish.
The programme creates an opportunity to pilot several innovations and the pioneering structure of four-plus-one year has the added benefit of reducing student debt, helping maintain affordability and making architecture attractive to a more diverse range of applicants. Students who complete the course have the option of completing their ARB/RIBA Part 3 to become registered architects.
The programme’s content is deliberately provocative and intellectually challenging, asking students to confront issues from racial and spatial justice to climate change and resource depletion. An annual theme across the four taught years of the degree strengthens the academic experience, fostering collaboration and peer-to-peer mentoring, which in turn flattens academic hierarchies and encourages student-led debate.
The programme’s focus on global challenges aligns with the firm commitment to diversify all aspects of the curriculum. These challenges also have cultural and technical implications that invite students to consider architecture as a form of life-cycle, encompassing zero carbon urbanism, circular economies and energy consumption. The final year in placement allows students to flourish by bringing their academic knowledge and research skills into practice. Here, they are able to develop and test their ideas in the real world and prepare themselves for a professional life not just equipped to meet the challenges they will face, but to take the lead in building a better future.