Practical training requirements: FAQ
There are a number of acceptable variations but the most straightforward route to qualification takes a minimum of seven years. A student would typically:
- Take a three-year first degree in architecture which is prescribed by ARB (often referred to as Part 1)
- Followed by at least one year of practical experience
- Then a further two years’ full time study (or part time equivalent) towards a prescribed diploma or second degree in architecture (often referred to as Part 2)
- Followed by at least one further year’s practical experience
- You would then take a prescribed professional practice qualification (often referred to as Part 3)
A Professional Studies Adviser (PSA) is someone who has responsibility for monitoring graduates who are undertaking professional experience, both post Part 1 and post Part 2. They are often also responsible for the teaching of Professional Studies within the schools of architecture and are involved in the research of matters related to professional education. Nearly all are qualified architects and many practice architecture at the same time as teaching and mentoring students in practice. You will find a list of PSAs and their institutions on the APSAA website (www.APSAA.org.uk).
You could seek advice from the institution where you intend to take your Part 2 or Part 3, depending where you are in the qualifying process, and check whether they offer a PSA monitoring and mentoring service (for which there is likely to be a fee). If not, the RIBA North West Region provides a PEDR Monitoring and Support service – again there is a fee for this (for more information see: www.architecture.com/EducationAndCareers/RIBAPart3/PEDR ).
You should work for at least 12 months in an EEA member state (including the UK), the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. The remaining 12 months may be undertaken anywhere in the world. You should note, however, that your Part 3 qualification will be testing your knowledge and skills in relation to UK practice. It is therefore recommended that at least 12 months of your experience is undertaken in the UK.
I have been working in Dubai supervised by a UK architect, working on UK projects. Does this count as UK/EEA experience?
In most cases the location of your practice will determine the location of your experience. If, however, you are supervised by a UK/EEA architect and working on UK/EEA projects, then it is possible that this could be counted as UK/EEA experience. You should discuss this with your PSA particularly if you are only working for part of the time on the UK/EEA projects.
The experience should consist of activities that would typically be undertaken by an architect in practice. This covers a wide range of areas but you will find reference to the Part 3 Criteria and PEDR website (www.pedr.co.uk) helpful in setting out the skills and knowledge you will be assessed against.
Can I count the two years I spent working in an architect’s office before I started my Part 1 course towards my practical experience?
The ARB/RIBA Rule states that at least 12 of the 24 months’ experience should have been undertaken within the 2 years immediately before taking your Part 3 exam and would, therefore, permit you to include up to 12 months of any experience undertaken before you started your Part 1. It will, however, be for your school to decide whether the experience is acceptable to them for the purposes of the professional practice examination and you are advised to discuss this with your PSA.
If you have not recorded this experience your PSA will want to know the type of work you were doing and the level at which you were working and they will most likely want to see references or other supporting evidence.
I want to go straight from Part 1 to Part 2 and then work for two years before taking my Part 3, is this acceptable?
Yes, this would be acceptable under the ARB/RIBA Rule – but many schools prefer students to have some practical experience before starting their Part 2 qualification and you would need to check this with your PSA or admissions tutor at the institution where you intend to study.
I do a work placement as part of my course, can I also count this towards my 24 months’ practical experience?
It will depend where you are studying, ARB/RIBA policy does not permit you to ‘double count’ – that is to use time spent in practice which contributes to the achievement of academic credits at Part 1 and/or Part 2, to also satisfy part of the practical experience requirement. If your placement does not contribute to the achievement of academic credits at Part 1 and/or Part 2, then it is likely that you would be able to include it. Your course admissions tutor should be able to advise you of the position for your specific course.
ARB rules don’t specify a format but your school or PSA may ask you to use their own recording system or the RIBA Professional Education and Development Resource (PEDR) for example. You should check with your PSA.
The ARB/RIBARule does not set any minimum limits for periods of experience but if your placement is very short your PSA may want to see evidence of reasonable involvement in the practice and in the projects you are working on. For this reason your school may prefer you to spend at least 3 months in any placement and you are advised to discuss this with your PSA if you think it may be shorter.
No – ARB does not look in detail at the work you have been doing. Your PSA will sign it off and use it to help you plan your experience and guide you in deciding when you are ready to sit the Part 3 exam. Your professional practice (Part 3) examiner will assess the content and quality of your experience as part of your professional practice exam. (ARB ensures that schools do this to a standard that meets its criteria as part of its prescription process).
ARB rules would permit this, however you should speak to your PSA because each school sets their own requirements.
My PSA signed off my PEDR sheets and approved my experience but I failed the experience assessment at Part 3?
Your PSA will ascertain whether your experience is of an appropriate nature in terms of length, location, etc to meet the ARB/RIBA rules and will assist you in deciding whether you are ready to take the Part 3 examination. At the Part 3 examination the professional practice examiner will assess the content and quality of your experience and whether you have gained the appropriate competencies to allow you to fulfil the joint ARB/RIBA Criteria. The ARB prescription process requires course providers to ensure that all candidates who pass the Part 3 have met the Part 3 Criteria.
I am self-employed and working on my own projects, can my ‘supervisor’ be a registered architect from another practice?
The supervising professional should have responsibility for and control over the work being undertaken. Typically the candidate and supervisor will be employed by the same organisation but where the relationship is not typical, for example where a candidate is self-employed, they will need to satisfy their PSA that the level and type of supervision is appropriate.
In support of your case your PSA may want to see evidence of an agreement between you and your supervisor, setting out how the arrangement will work, how regularly you will meet and what the ‘supervision’ will consist of. Whatever the circumstances, your supervisor is expected to have a close, structured working relationship with you.
You should also be aware that candidates who are self-employed may be exposed to more limited experience with little scope for getting involved in an appropriate range of projects at different stages. They may also be putting themselves in a vulnerable position, particularly in terms of liability. As an alternative it might be helpful to work in collaboration with another architect who would have a strong professional interest in maintaining close supervision of your work and ensuring that you are working at the right level.
You should certainly discuss this with your PSA and perhaps consider other options if possible.
In the first instance, you should consult with their PSA. ARB does not require that candidates are in employment whilst undertaking their Part 3 so long as the experience requirements have been met (particular note should be made of the requirement for 12 of the 24 months’ experience having been undertaken in the two years immediately before taking the Part 3 exam). Therefore, subject to your prior experience and Part 3 course provider regulations, you may find that you are able to remain registered on your course and complete Part 3.
The ARB/RIBA Rule permits up to 12 months’ experience supervised by any professional working within the construction industry so if you are working for a multi-disciplinary practice or you are employed by an organisation other than an architectural practice, provided the work you are doing is architectural in nature (see Q4) your supervisor may be any professional as defined above. If your supervisor is not an architect, you may also find it helpful to seek guidance and support from an architect working in another practice.
While ARB/RIBA rules would not prevent this, as good practice, you should see if anyone else in the practice may be able to take on the role of supervisor. Your PSA should be able to advise you whether in your particular circumstances this is likely to create any problems.
In the first instance you should discuss this with your PSA who will be able to advise you whether your experience is likely to meet ARB/RIBA requirements and whether it will be adequate to assist you in meeting the Part 3 Criteria. If you need further information or have any additional questions please contact ARB or RIBA.