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Architecture (RIBA Part I Exemption) - BA (Hons)

Course Overview

The essential course information

UCAS Code:
BA (Hons)
  • Full Time (3 years)
  • Part Time (4 years)
Birmingham School of Architecture
Birmingham Institute of Art & Design
City Centre
Course Graphic - Architecture (RIBA Part I Exemption) BA (Hons)

This fascinating course focuses on actual environmental conditions, dealing with neighbourhoods, cities, and regional and global networks. With the city of Birmingham as your initial architectural reference point, you’ll be part of a close-knit group that includes tutors, practitioners, theorists and specialists looking at how disciplines, systems, concepts and people connect in the real world.

Architecture can be seen as a series of relationships characterised by issues of 'place', 'interface' and 'exchange'.

Place, Interface, Exchange

The undergraduate course in Architecture seeks to position your studies at the centre of this dynamic field through exploring connections between disciplines, systems, concepts, and people (the 'interface).

Architecture RIBA Part 1 Exemption - Summary 1

It is supported by a structured dialogue amongst students, tutors, practitioners, theorists and specialists (the ‘exchange’).

Your design and research activity will be embeded in real environmental conditions dealing with scales of neighbourhoods, city, regional, and global networks - with the city of Birmingham as your starting point (the 'place').


The course considers meta-themes of ‘habitation’, ‘production’ and ‘mobility’ over the three year programme, building our students awareness of contemporary conditions, with confidence and ability in meeting the challenges of the 21st century. The first year is taught with Year 1 students of BA (Hons) Landscape Architecture as a common foundation year, with increasing specialisation throughout the duration of the course.

Architecture (RIBA Part 1 Exemption) - Summary 2

Each academic year is split between Design Studio, Cultural Context and Technology, all interconnected to the year's the meta-theme - providing a comprehensive and unified learning experience across all aspects of architecture and landscape.

Key Facts

  • Accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects, allowing you to achieve RIBA Part 1 exemption – on doing so, you’re fully encouraged and supported to apply for employment in practice.
  • After a year out, you can apply for RIBA Part 2 exemption, then possibly progress to our PGDip Architectural Practice (RIBA Part 3) - the full range of courses needed to achieve professional qualification.
  • Throughout, you’re encouraged to combine experience of the practical world of landscape architecture with creativity and innovation in the studio.
  • You prepare for the working world with a comprehensive set of activities in Professional Studies, including a short-term work placement, practice visits, and ‘Into Work’ seminars.
  • You can enjoy cultural context study trips, produce work for real clients via Co.Lab, our live projects initiatve, and take part in student-led activities with the Student Architecture Society.
  • You engage in an ambitious educational programme with enthusiastic staff to equip you with the skills and ideas to embrace the future challenges of expanding urbanisation in a post-industrial world.

Why Choose Us?

  • This course is accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects, allowing you to achieve RIBA Part 1 exemption. This offers you distinct support when applying for placement in practice.
  • The course is based in our new multi-million pound City Centre Campus Parkside Building – a creative environment to rival any studio in the country, with advanced digital studios for rapid prototyping and digital production, as well as drawing workshops for observational and technical drawing, CAD and digital visual communication skills.
  • You get insight from lectures by leading professionals, with past speakers including CJ Lim and Martha Schwarz.
  • Birmingham School of Architecture celebrated its centenary in 2009 – more than 100 years of responding creatively to the challenges and opportunities in professional architecture
  • Well-established connections with national architecture practices help you find appropriate work experience while studying and employment after you graduate.

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

Secondary education qualifications

At least five GCSE passes at Grade C or above, including, without exception, English and Maths, and a mixture of Science/Maths and Humanities/Arts subjects. GCE/VCE, A Level tariff – 340 points [AAB] from a mixture of Science/Maths and Humanities/Arts subjects, including one 12-unit award or two six-unit awards.

The following subjects are preferred:

  • History/Geography/English/Languages
  • Double award in Science or separate Science such as Physics, Biology or Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Sociology/Philosophy/Psychology
  • Art/Design/Music

The following subjects are not accepted:

  • General studies
  • NVQ (National vocational qualifications) and advanced modern apprenticeship.
Further education qualifications
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Construction (and Built Environment)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Art and Design
    • DDD (340 points)
  • BTEC Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
    • Distinction (285 points) plus GCE/VCE A and/or AS Levels in subjects other than art with at least one in which assessment is essay based (see recommendations above) to 55 points.
    • Merit (225 points) plus GCE/VCE A and/or AS Levels in subjects other than art with at least one in which assessment is essay based (see recommendations above) to 115 points.
    • Pass (165 points) plus GCE/VCE A and/or AS Levels in subjects other than art with at least one in which assessment is essay based (see recommendations above) to 175 points.
  • Advanced Diploma in Construction and Built Environment
  • Advanced Diploma in Creative and Media
  • Advanced Diploma in Environmental and Land-based Studies (commences 2009)
  • Advanced Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (commences 2009)
  • ASL (Additional and Specialist Learning) plus Progression Diploma in above subject equivalent to 340 points.
Higher education qualifications

Course currently exempt from ELQ status

NOT accepted:

BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND)
BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC)
Foundation Degrees

Unconditional Offers 2014/15

If you are a full-time undergraduate applicant for the 2014/15 year, and show particular potential, we may be able to make you an unconditional offer if you make us first choice and satisfy certain criteria. The offer is subject to a successful interview.

Learn more about unconditional offers >>

Mature students

Applications from mature students (+21) with alternative qualifications and/or work experience will be considered on their merits. As a minimum, applicants should have a portfolio demonstrating their creative abilities in a range of media.

International qualifications

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma: 28 points

Applications from international applicants with equivalent qualifications to 340 points are welcome.

Non-English speakers require require one of the following:

  • IELTS – minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.
  • TOEFL – Band scores of: Listening – 17. Reading – 18. Speaking – 20. Writing – 20.
  • Pearson – Band scores of: Listening – 51. Reading – 51. Speaking – 51. Writing – 53.

A digital portfolio will be required, as specified below.

Portfolio Guidance

The invitation to submit a digital portfolio is your opportunity to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your creative abilities, and to illustrate your interests in and commitment to the study of architecture. You are not expected to demonstrate experience of architectural design, other than through, for example, sketchbooks, carefully considered photography or (images of) model making in the consideration of spatial awareness or exploration of an idea. Experimentation and expression in a range of media is to be encouraged and composition of text and images should be treated as an exercise in graphic communication.

Application Details

Full Time: Apply through UCAS.
UCAS Code: K100.
Apply via UCAS

Part-time: Applications for part-time undergraduate courses should be made direct to the faculty.
Application form for part-time undergraduate courses

Non-EU (International) students:. There are three ways for international students to apply: direct to the University, through a country representative or through UCAS. Please read our guidance on how to apply.

UCAS Information

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2014 FT 3 years BA (Hons) £8,200 per year
Sep 2014 PT 4 years BA (Hons) £1,025 per 15-credit module
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2014 FT 3 years BA (Hons) £10,500 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

You will need to pay for materials, printing (subsidised rates), UK and non-UK field trips, a good computer and a camera. Advice will be given at the start of the course. A pair of safety boots would also be beneficial.

Financial Options and Advice

We have deliberately tried to set fees that reflect the cost of course delivery in order to help our students avoid debt.

Full-time students won't have to pay for tuition fees until after their studies - there are government tuition fee loans available. If you are a full-time student, after leaving university you will start to pay back your loan once you are earning over £21,000 a year, at a rate of nine per cent on any income above £21,000. So if you were earning £25,000, you would pay back nine per cent of £4,000, or £30 per month.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis offers key facts on fees, loans and grants:

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally–recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Open Days

Saturday 14 June 2014 (9am - 3pm)

Open Day Courses Tab June2014

Our Open Day provides you with the perfect opportunity to visit the University and discover just what we have to offer.

You can learn more about our courses, great teaching and links with leading employers – as well as our £260 million investment in facilities.

There is a non-stop programme of events and activities running throughout the day, so we recommend that you arrive at 9am to ensure you get the most out of the day.

Who is it for?

The day will cover all levels of study but is predominantly for undergraduate courses.

bcyou icon registerRegister to attend the Open Day

University Approach to Employability

Expertly woven into our curriculum and work experience opportunities, and underpinned by a diligent approach to career preparation and the close involvement of professional bodies, the University views employment as one of the principal rewards for a student's ambition, application and academic achievement. It's why the University is one of the country's top 30 universities* for placing students in graduate-level employment.

Our close links with business and the professions mean that our courses are always relevant, up-to-date and meet the exact needs of the current marketplace. Wherever possible, we involve employers in planning the curriculum, while many of our lecturers come from and maintain their links with industry, ensuring they are up to speed with the latest developments.

Employability will be an integral outcome of your studies.

* Sunday Times University Guide 2012

Employment Opportunities

Our graduates work for companies such as Associated Architects, Birmingham City Council and Glenn Howells Architects.

Further Studies

As a graduate of the course, you will be encouraged to apply for employment as an assistant in architectural practice and, on completion of your year out, will be invited to apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture (RIBA Part 2 exemption). We also offer a Postgraduate Diploma in Architectural Practice (RIBA Part 3 exemption), giving you the opportunity to undertake your entire architectural education at the School of Architecture.

Alternatively, this is an excellent qualification for progression into related design fields, journalism or academia.

Architecture, building and planning courses are one of the top 12 degree subjects for getting a job according to a recent article in the Telegraph, with 85.2 per cent of graduates nationwide finding work or going onto further study within six months of finishing their degree.

For further information on courses Tel: +44(0)121 331 5595 or go direct to the courses section of the website.

Full Time

“All tutors are extremely knowledgeable and are always available to help when in need of some advice on work. All work to be completed is clearly set out at the beginning of each term and in further detail through the module brief. As a student this helps me to clearly understand what I need to complete in order to fulfil the requirements of the course.”

BA (Hons) Architecture student

About KIS data

From September 2012, all universities and colleges are publishing standardised information for all undergraduate courses in the form of a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS data is designed to meet the needs of prospective students and allow for informed decision-making when choosing a university course.

Putting our students first

We pride ourselves on our student satisfaction levels which have risen from 73 per cent to 83 per cent between 2010 and 2012. Our dedication to improving the student experience is illustrated by our award-winning student engagement, our close links with business and industry and our £180 million investment in new facilities.

One of the ways in which we enhance the student experience is through the provision of exciting work placement opportunities. BA (Hons) Architecture student Haiqal Che Zulhikam successfully came through a tough four-stage appointment process to secure one of just a handful of summer internships with leading practice Foster + Partners.

Employability facts

91.1 per cent of leavers from the School of Architecture & Landscape who responded to the survey entered employment (and/or further study), earning an average full-time salary of £17,700. Employers hiring leavers from the School include APEC Architects and K4 Architects, in positions such as Part 1 Architectural Assistant.

Working with your Students’ Union

Improving student satisfaction is a priority commitment shared by both Birmingham City University and its Students’ Union. In its strategic planning, the Union has pledged to be more accessible, more relevant and provide more opportunity to engage with a diverse student community.

The Students’ Union is already a key stakeholder in supporting an excellent teaching experience at Birmingham City University, through joint projects such as the Extra Mile Teaching Awards and the Student Rep scheme, which allows students to share their ideas on how they are taught.

As Birmingham City University moves towards a two campus strategy where it can better support enhanced learning and student support facilities across a two-mile radius, the Students’ Union will also be better able to implement its commitment to improve communication and engage with its valued student membership.

Course Structure

The first year of the course provides a broad foundation for the study of architecture and landscape architecture in the context of the ‘urbanised field’, as well as the physical and ideological relationship between them, informed by the theme of habitation. Principles are established in reading and interpreting the non-designed and designed environment, sustainable development and technology, supported by an introduction to a wide range of representational media.

This leads to an exploration of the role of policy in the formation of urban and architectural constructs in the second year and the idea of the architect as co-ordinator or facilitator in the act of construction, informed by the theme of production. Techniques and methods in sustainable development and technology are studied and evaluated, complemented by the elective programme (Co.Lab), which enables you to engage with design and production practices across BIAD and external clients.

The final year considers the architectural physical and cultural context from the local to the global scale. At the same time, the course looks towards cross-disciplinary practice to test innovative approaches at diverse scales through issues such as the study of dynamic cities and understanding the implications of new digital technologies, informed by the theme of mobility. Strategies in sustainable development and technology are developed and tested against architectural projects. Employability and entrepreneurial skills are developed in special 'working' seminars to prepare you for professional employment.


Year 1 (Level 4) meta-theme: Habitation

Design Studio 4-1 (30 credits)
Design Studio 4-2 (30 credits)
Cultural Context 4-1 (15 credits)
Cultural Context 4-2 (15 credits) - study trip
Technology 4-1 (15 credits)
Technology 4-2 (15 credits)

Year 2 (Level 5) meta-theme: Production

Design Studio 5-1 (30 credits)
Design Studio 5-2 (30 credits)
Cultural Context 5-1 (15 credits)
Cultural Context 5-2 (15 credits) - including management, practice and law
Technology 5-1 (15 credits)
Practice + Collaboration 5-1 (15 credits) - Co.Lab, see industry page

Year 3 (Level 6) meta-theme: Mobility

Design Studio 6-1 (30 credits)
Design Studio 6-2 (30 credits)
Cultural Context 6-1 (15 credits)
Cultural Context 6-2 (15 credits) - study trip
Technology 6-1 (15 credits)
Technology 6-2 (15 credits)

    Additional Activities

    Student Experience

    Teaching is practiced at the school department, but more frequently, we take students out of this environment to engage in the learning of architecture, landscape and urbanism by participating with the context as well as studying it.

    BA (Hons) Architecture students create temporary installations at the Old Spode Factory, Stoke on Trent, as part of the British Ceramics Biennial.

    The course is just one part of the learning experience. Students are not just engaged, but become part of the school and part of the architectural community in the city. Through architecturewm, all network partners provide a rich and diverse selection of wider social and academic activities.

    Studio Culture

    The school provides a dynamic working environment with a dedicated studio space for the undergraduate students to help them develop a studio culture, often credited as a notable benefit to successful learning.

    Features of the course include:

    • Continual construction site visits to the new BIAD Campus building with contractor Willmott Dixon
    • 'Into Work' seminars to prepare students for graduate employment
    • Cultural Context study trips every year in term 2
    • Evening Open Lectures by leading professionals, with past speakers including CJ Lim and Martha Schwarz
    • Co.Lab and other live projects/competitions where students are able to produce work for real clients
    • Be informed about the latest events and news from architecturewm
    • Organise and participate in student-led activities with the Student Architecture Society
    • Birmingham School of Architecture Events, an annual period where students across all years work together on various projects

    Assessment Methods

    There is continuous assessment of project work, as well as assignments and coursework dedicated to subject units. Studio work is assessed through project group critiques and portfolio reviews. Progress in formal, lecture-based subjects is recorded through continuous assessment, written work and examinations throughout the year.

    The exchange of ideas and knowledge among student groups and tutors occurs through a variety of media and environments, most significantly via studio events, study trips, workshops, lectures and seminars. Informal and formal feedback is provided through group work and tutorial guidance as part of a shared learning experience that aims to encourage responsible, self-motivated practice, realising your critical capacity.

    Alessandro Columbano


    Alessandro is a lecturer at the Birmingham School of Architecture. He is also leading Co.LAB, a collaborative organisation within the school that integrates teaching with practice through live projects, design, research and consultancy.

    Prior to joining the university, Alessandro has worked in architectural and research practices in Manchester and London, with experience in evidence-based design and historical refurbishments. He graduated from the Manchester School of Architecture with a distinction in both postgraduate architecture and MA Urbanism prior to working as an independent artist.

    As anviere, a self-identified design guise, he has developed a portfolio of site-specific installations and artworks commenting on the subversive qualities of our physical environments.

    Alessandro brings these characteristics forward to his teaching as an academic and researcher; taking an active role in the discussion of architectural pedagogy, urban theory and the contemporary vernacular. These are applied by engaging the influential sphere of the school upon the physical network it has created within the city.

    Elizabeth Clayton

    Elizabeth Clayton

    The Course:

    I chose to study at Birmingham City University because of the relaxed environment portrayed by the department of Architecture on my Open Day visit. I liked their attitude towards self-directed learning and their hands-on educational techniques. The department also promoted a strong identity of students learning from one another which in turn created great camaraderie and a positive, supportive environment.

    The University:

    I was based at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, and enjoyed being in close proximity with other Art and Design based subjects and the colourful and inspiring environment with students' work regularly displayed. I liked the evening lectures with visiting speakers and practitioners that the School of Architecture put on in association with the Birmingham Architectural Association. I still enjoy attending these even though I'm no longer at the School.

    The City:

    It's great to study in a city. When I first arrived I was invigorated by the people and my surroundings, especially as I made my way back to my student digs on an evening. For studying architecture, Birmingham is a great place, as you can walk the city and experience many different built environments, from the Bullring to Brindleyplace, from St Pauls to Ladywood, from the Digbeth Branch Canal to the Chinese Quarter, and many more.

    The Individual:

    I'm currently working as an Assistant Architect at Axis Design Architects Ltd in Birmingham. I got this job part way through my degree, working during my final summer at university, part-time through my final year and started full-time when I graduated. I intend to continue my professional and academic development to become an Architect. I have aspirations not only to practice but also to make an academic contribution, through writing or teaching or both.

    Holly Rose Doron

    Holly was undecided about which degree programme to undertake, leaving it until the last minute to make her decision. She accepted a place at BIAD at the eleventh hour and hasn't look back since.

    "Throughout college I was convinced I was going to become a graphic designer. I had considered architecture but thought it involved tons of repetitive drawing. But if I went into graphic design I would have missed science, history, and writing – architecture has all these extra elements as well as design. I kept asking myself: if we had to migrate to the moon, who would they rather take? A graphic designer, or an architect? I made the decision late in the summer, and was luckily accepted into the Birmingham School of Architecture two weeks later. I’ve never looked back.

    "Birmingham has an excellent architectural community, connecting both students and professionals, enabling the School to provide lectures, presentations and even one-on-one tutorials with many distinguished architects, both local and national. The combination of knowledgeable staff with varying specialities and students with diverse ages, nationalities, and educational backgrounds is the key to the School's delivery of a rich and fulfilling learning experience.

    "The School's emphasis on technological and contextual theory enabled me to produce a design that received the Students of Excellence 2009 Award for Advanced Urban Solutions from Birmingham City Council. The staff here nourished my interest in community architecture, and enabled me to obtain a placement in a practice that specialises in designing for community groups. I couldn’t think of a more rewarding end to a great three years."

    Our Facilities

    We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities. It’s no surprise that the Complete University Guide placed us in the UK top 10 for spending on facilities in both 2012 and 2013.


    Prospective students from the UK or EU
    • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
    • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
    • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
    Prospective students from non-EU countries
    • International enquirers from non-EU countries may enquire via the International Enquiry Form.
    • Alternatively, call us +44 (0)121 331 6714.


    For an overview of our undergraduate courses and a range of other information order a printed Prospectus or download a PDF of our Prospectus (16Mb).

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