UK architecture schools
Source: Nick Caville

Careers within the architecture industry are competitive, but dynamic, fulfilling and lucrative. There are so many different things you can do when it comes to using technical and creative skills to design structures that suit the requirements of clients. Whether you’re focused on new buildings, restoring old ones, or altering and extending existing structures, you’ll have to ensure all are functional, safe and economical. Innovation will be highly valued too. 

To take your skills to the next level, it’s important to keep up with how your discipline is evolving. There’s a climate in crisis and technology advancing at what feels like warp speed — these are just two of the main catalysts bringing change to the world we live in today.

The best architecture schools are aware of this — as seen in how their master’s degrees are always updated alongside progress in industry. These three universities exemplify this: 

UK architecture schools

Source: Welsh School of Architecture, University of Cardiff

The Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University

The sky is the limit for students at The Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Sixth in the Complete University Guide Subject League Tables 2023, fifth in the Guardian League Table 2023, and fourth overall in the Research Excellence Framework 2021 among institutions undertaking research in “Architecture, Built Environment and Planning” — these are some of the recognitions the school has achieved, and its credibility is noticeable throughout all its programmes.

The school offers Architectural Studies (BSc), Architecture (MArch), Architecture: Professional Practice (PGDip), Architectural Design (MA); Urban Design (MA) (delivered jointly with the School of Geography and Planning), Master of Design Administration (MDA), Computational Methods in Architecture (MSc), Environmental Design of Buildings (MSc); Sustainable Building Conservation (MSc) and Sustainable Mega-Buildings (MSc). Each provides an experience worthy of the school’s accolades. The undergraduate BSc and MArch are approved by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB), as is the PGDip. All the postgraduate courses are recognised and/or accredited by different professional bodies as well.

Expert, experienced lecturers guide students through excellent curricula that prepare them for real-world challenges and benefit from novel and cutting-edge research. Teaching takes place at the Bute Building (shortlisted for a prestigious Architects’ Journal Award in 2022), home to facilities including generous studios spaces, well-equipped workshops (including a digital fabrication lab), a large exhibition hall and a wide range of flexible teaching spaces that facilitate different sorts of learning, and a dedicated, well-resourced architecture library.

There’s another key feature that sets the school apart: sustainability. This has been a deep-rooted focus for over 30 years at the school and spans the design, arts, crafts, humanities, and sciences programmes offered. Across its portfolio, the school is engaging with and seeking solutions through architecture and urbanism to the challenges and goals set by the unique Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. Pair all of this with the school’s long-standing connections and collaborations with professional bodies like the Royal Society of Architects in Wales and the Design Commission for Wales, and students are equipped with all they need to thrive in their future careers. To learn more about this world-leading and agenda-setting school of architecture in Cardiff, click here.

School of architecture

From September 2022, Manchester School of Architecture relocated to the nearby Manchester Technology Centre to offer significantly larger facilities to staff and students. Source: Manchester School of Architecture

The Manchester School of Architecture

Students looking for a range of professionally recognised degrees in this field will find this university exceeds expectations. The Manchester School of Architecture offers programmes recognised by the Architects Registration Board (ARB), the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) and The Landscape Institute.

Programmes here include Master of Architecture (MArch), MA Architecture and Adaptive Reuse, MA Architecture and Urbanism, Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), PgCert Architecture and Contemporary Practice (RIBA Part 3) and Research Degrees.

The Manchester School of Architecture students benefit from great facilities and resources every step of the way. They have access to model-making workshops, wood plastics and foam workshops, photography and editing suites, print workshops, metal workshops and more.  

“My favourite project on the course was my final year project based in Lisbon, Portugal,” says Samuel T. Stone, MArch graduate. “We enjoyed an eventful and insightful trip to the beautiful city and the entire studio produced excellent work with a contextually conscious and realistic, but poetic approach.”

Faculty members play active roles in students’ learning. Take Professor Yamuna Kaluarachchi, for instance. She has held senior leadership roles in higher education institutions. Today she is a leading expert in Smart and Green Cities, Urban Cities and many more. Visiting professors like Kofi Boone, whose work in landscape architecture and environmental justice has earned him awards, brings a wealth of knowledge with him.

To find out more about how you can broaden your horizons at a “true school of architectural thinking,” click here

School of architecture

ESALA is the largest centre for the study of Architectural History in the UK. Source: Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA)

At the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), you will find programmes that are well-respected and renowned throughout Europe. ESALA is the largest centre for the study of Architectural History in the UK and a centre of excellence in Digital Media and Design.

The school allows students to take courses from the University of Edinburgh and works closely with Heriot-Watt University. Both its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are designed to prepare students for the workforce. They can explore interior design, landscape architecture, spatial design, sustainable design, and artistic design, among others. 

The MA (Hons) Architectural History and Heritage is the only programme of its kind in the UK and Europe’s first full undergraduate programme in the history and theory of architecture. Spanning two years of general and two of specialist study, the programme brings students to site visits and field research, guided by award-winning architectural historians and theorists. The four-year MA (Hons) Architecture includes an opportunity to study abroad during the third year via the University’s Subject-Specific Exchange Programme — taking students to destinations such as Madrid, Athens, Graz and Stuttgart.

An opportunity for a period of study abroad during the third year of the Architecture (MA Hons) exists through the University’s Subject-Specific Exchange Programme and is available through internal application. Current destinations include Madrid, Athens, Graz and Stuttgart.

If you are looking for short courses, the Updates in Architectural Management course is helpful, especially to those who recently qualified as architects or those coming to the UK from another country. Another short course is the Contract Administration Simulation Exercise, which will take you through different processes using web-based scenarios and teamwork. 

The university provides facilities and resources to support all these programmes. There are animation studios, a Digital Film Editing Suite, glass workshops, wood workshop and many more for students to harness their skills and take up other interests. 

Today, the university has nurtured over 24,000 talented creatives globally through its alumni association. The ECA Alumni consists of graduates from five subject areas; architecture and landscape architecture; art; history of art; design; and music.

If this university sounds like a place you’d like excel at, click here.

*Some of the institutions featured on this article are commercial partners of Study International