University of Cambridge




The only Cambridge degree that combines the intellectual challenges of both arts and sciences with the opportunity for creative design.

UCAS code K100 BA/Arch

Duration Three years

Colleges Available at all Colleges except Corpus Christi, Homerton, Hughes Hall and St Catharine's

2013 entry Applications per place: 10
Number accepted: 41

Open days and events 2015 College open days (arts)
Cambridge Open Days

Related courses
Contact details 01223 332950


Exceptional learning environment

With examples of outstanding buildings dating from the Middle Ages to the present day, Cambridge provides the perfect setting to study architecture. Both teaching and research are ranked amongst the best in the country. At Cambridge, you’re taught by practising architects and academics who are leading experts in their fields.

Our course is unashamedly academic in approach, emphasising architecture as a cultural as well as technological subject. The core of the teaching programme is in practical design carried out in studios (from the large scale of a city to the smallest detail), and supported by lectures on both the humanities (history and theory) and sciences (construction, environmental design and structures).

Our small, friendly Department has a very good staff:student ratio. Facilities include a superb library, studios, reprographics areas and workshops, as well as spaces for making models and larger installations.

Professional qualification

Successful completion of our full three-year undergraduate course carries exemption from the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) Part 1 – the first stage in qualifying as an architect.

The Department also offers a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design, which carries exemption from RIBA Part 2, and a RIBA Part 3 course (the final qualifying stage).

What we're looking for

You must have an enthusiasm for both the arts and the sciences. The ability to draw and an interest in the history of art and architecture are essential, as is a knowledge of mathematics to at least a good GCSE standard.

Changing course

Students can opt to move to other courses within the University after Part IA. However, this is very rarer and most architecture students stay for all three years (see above regarding professional qualification.

Careers and research

Many graduates continue into professional training, but some enter other creative fields or research. We have a long-standing tradition of research excellence, in areas such as history and philosophy of architecture, environmentally-responsible design, architecture and the moving image, urban design and transport planning, and disaster relief.

Graduate entry

It is not possible to study Architecture as an affiliated course (ie in one year less than usual). However, if you have already completed an undergraduate degree and now wish to study Architecture at Cambridge as a second undergraduate degree, you can apply to study the full three-year course. (In this case, you would not normally pay the separate College fees.) Please seek advice about your application as early as possible from one of the mature Colleges.

Course outline

Each week you have two 'studio' days, for which you are set projects which require you to produce models and drawings to communicate your design ideas.

You are supervised on studio work in individual tutorials and group critical reviews which encourage you to explore different approaches and develop essential design skills. The resulting portfolio accounts for 60 per cent of your overall marks each year.

Lectures, classes and visits to completed buildings or buildings under construction/restoration cover the rest of the curriculum. You attend at least one lecture a week on each paper as well as small-group supervisions, for which you are required to complete essays and undertake preparation.

Year 1 (Part IA)

Studio work introduces the possibilities of architecture, with an emphasis on understanding and developing proficiency in traditional modes of architectural representation – models, collage, perspectives, elevations, plans and sections. You also master basic CAD skills, used in studio presentations. A study trip abroad is typically offered in the Easter vacation.

You take five lecture-based papers:

  • Introduction to Architectural History/Theory (pre-1800)
  • Introduction to Architectural History/Theory (post-1800)
  • Fundamental Principles of Construction
  • Fundamental Principles of Structural Design
  • Fundamental Principles of Environmental Design

Assessment is through coursework and written examinations.

Year 2 (Part IB)

You choose from various options for studio work, with projects ranging in scale from mapping studies and interior interventions, to reasonable-sized buildings. Emphasis is on integrating the technical skills learnt in Part IA and in the ongoing Part IB lectures with your studio output. A voluntary study trip is usually offered.

In addition, you take four papers that build on your Part IA knowledge:

  • Studies in History and Theories of Architecture, Urbanism and Design
  • Principles of Construction
  • Principles of Structural Design
  • Principles of Environmental Design

For the first, you submit two essays and sit a written examination. The remaining three papers are assessed by a written exam in each.

Year 3 (Part II)

You choose from three studio options which vary in approach but all require you to produce a building design at the end of the year whose technical realisation is allied to a coherently framed conceptual approach. Again, a voluntary study trip is usually offered.

Four lecture-based papers together carry 20 per cent of your overall marks:

  • Advanced Studies in Historical and Theoretical Aspects of Architecture and Urbanism
  • Management, Practice and Law
  • Advanced Studies in Construction Technology, Structural Analysis and Environmental Design Related to Case Studies
  • Architectural Engineering (examined entirely by coursework)

A written dissertation of 7,000-9,000 words on a topic of your choice accounts for the remaining 20 per cent of your marks.

Entry requirements

Typical offers require
A Level:
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.

Course requirements

Essential: No specific subjects
Desirable: AS Level/IB Standard Level Mathematics or Physics

There is no prescribed combination of A Level (or equivalent) subjects required for the Architecture course. Applicants with backgrounds in either the humanities or the sciences have been successful, although a combination of arts and science subjects is considered the best preparation. The majority of applicants have studied Art or History of Art, which provides a better preparation for the course than subjects such as Design Technology and Technical Graphics. Mathematics at A Level (or equivalent) is also encouraged.

A strong interest and commitment to the discipline is essential and all applicants are expected to show a portfolio of recent work at interview (see box below).

Fitzwilliam College requires Mathematics at A Level.
Sidney Sussex College
requires Mathematics or Physics at A Level.

Portfolio advice

All applicants are expected to show a portfolio of recent work at interview but this isn't expected to be work of an architectural nature (eg plans, sections etc).

Admissions Tutors will want to see something that will illustrates your interests, experience and ability in the visual and material arts. Normally drawing and painting forms the basis of the portfolio but other media such as sculpture and photography may also be included. It's usually sufficient for three-dimensional work to be exhibited in photographs.

A sketchbook with ongoing drawings is extremely helpful and applicants are encouraged to take one to the interview. It may be in any media (pencil, charcoal, crayon etc) and should include a variety of subject matter. The work can be material prepared for school-leaving examinations but creative work executed outside formal courses is also welcome.

Portfolio requirements vary from College to College. Please see the Department website and individual College websites for further guidance.

Admissions tests and written work

The table below sets out the ways in which each College assesses applicants for this subject. For more information about these methods of assessment and why we use them, see the main Admissions tests and written work page.

Please note: in addition, all applicants for Architecture are expected to show a portfolio of recent work at interview.

College Assessment of applicant for this subject
Christ's Portfolio review at interview
Churchill School/college essays and portfolio review at interview
Clare An exercise/project to be done at home in advance of interview; Portfolio review at interview
Corpus Christi Not available at this College
Downing Portfolio review at interview
Emmanuel Preparatory study before interview
Fitzwilliam Written/drawing assignment prior to interview; Portfolio review at interview
Girton Portfolio review at interview
Gonville & Caius Portfolio review at interview
Homerton Not available at this College
Hughes Hall Not available at this College

Test at interview; Portfolio review at interview

King's Portfolio review at interview
Lucy Cavendish Written/drawing test at interview; Portfolio review at interview
Magdalene Written/drawing test prior to interview; Portfolio review at interview
Murray Edwards Portfolio review at interview
Newnham School/college essays; Portfolio review at interview
Pembroke Sketch to be submitted before interview; Portfolio review at interview
Peterhouse Project set by College; Portfolio review at interview
Queens' Portfolio review at interview
Robinson Portfolio review at interview
St Catharine's Not available at this College
St Edmund's Project set by College; Portfolio review at interview
St John's School/college essay; Portfolio review at interview
Selwyn Portfolio review at interview
Sidney Sussex Portfolio review at interview
Trinity Test at interview; Portfolio review at interview
Trinity Hall Portfolio review at interview
Wolfson Test at interview; Portfolio review at interview
How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course, please see our Applying section for more details.

Further Resources

Find out more about Architecture at Cambridge

  • Course website - Explore Architecture in more detail on the course website.

Tools to help you with your Architecture application

The student experience

  • ArcSoc - Find out more about the Cambridge University Architecture Society and what they get up to.

Unistats info

Contextual Information

From September 2012, every undergraduate course of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual courses at different higher education institutions.

However, please note that superficially similar courses often have very different structures and objectives, and that the teaching, support and learning environment that best suits you can only be determined by identifying your own interests, needs, expectations and goals, and comparing them with detailed institution- and course-specific information.

We recommend that you look thoroughly at the course and University information contained on these webpages and consider coming to visit us on an Open Day, rather than relying solely on statistical comparison.

You may find the following notes helpful when considering information presented by the KIS.

  1. The KIS relies on superficially similar courses being coded in the same way. Whilst this works on one level, it leads to some anomalies. For example, Music courses and Music Technology courses can have exactly the same code despite being very different programmes with quite distinct educational and career outcomes.

    Any course which combines several disciplines (as many courses at Cambridge do) tends to be compared nationally with courses in just one of those disciplines, and in such cases a KIS comparison may not be an accurate or fair reflection of the reality of either. For example, you may find that when considering a degree which embraces a range of disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry and geology (for instance, Natural Sciences at Cambridge), the comparison provided is with courses at other institutions that primarily focus on just one (or a smaller combination) of those subjects.

  2. Whilst the KIS makes reference to some broad types of financial support offered by institutions, it cannot compare packages offered by different institutions. Different students have different circumstances and requirements, and you should weigh up what matters to you most: level of fee; fee waivers; means-tested support such as bursaries; non-means-tested support such as academic scholarships and study grants; and living costs such as accommodation, travel.

  3. The KIS provides a typical cost of private (ie non-university) accommodation. This is very difficult to estimate as prices and properties vary. University accommodation can be substantially cheaper, and if you are likely to live in College for much or all of the duration of your course (as is the case at Cambridge), then the cost of private accommodation will be of less or no relevance for you. The KIS also provides the typical annual cost of university accommodation and the number of beds available. Note that since most universities offer a range of residential accommodation, you should check with institutions about the likelihood of securing a room at a price that suits your budget. Knowing the number of beds available is not necessarily useful: it may be much more important to find out if all students are guaranteed accommodation.

  4. Time in lectures, seminars and similar can vary enormously by institution depending on the structure of the course, and the quality of such contact time should be the primary consideration.

  5. Whilst starting salaries can be a useful measure, they do not give any sense of career trajectory or take account of the voluntary/low paid work that many graduates undertake initially in order to gain valuable experience necessary/advantageous for later career progression.

The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other important factors that are relevant to the choices that you are making, but we hope that this will be a useful starting point to help you delve deeper than the face value of the KIS data.