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Consultation on New Qualifications

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the body responsible for prescribing (recognising) the qualifications in architecture that a person must possess if they wish to be placed on the UK Register of Architects under Section 4 of the Architects Act 1997.

ARB publishes Criteria which describe the requirements for the prescription of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 qualifications in architecture. The Criteria incorporate the relevant requirements of the UK Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and EU Directive, and are considered under five thematic headings: Design; Technology and Environment; Cultural Context; Management Practice and Law; and Communication. No weightings are given to the separate themes with the exception of Design, which is to constitute at least half of assessed work at Part 1 and Part 2.

Students must also be given the opportunity to pursue related, specialised, or optional studies. The form and content of related, specialised and optional studies are a matter for each institution, and institutions may develop programmes that, for example, link architecture with other subjects, emphasise research, develop specialisms and promote advanced degrees. However, such initiatives must not compromise the key requirement that all students receiving a qualification must meet all ARB’s Criteria.

Higher education institutions wishing to have their qualifications prescribed for the first time are required – under ARB’s Procedures for the Prescription of Qualifications (the Procedures) – to present documentary material to justify prescription and give the Board confidence that the following objectives will be met:

  • The course proposal – including the educational aims, the intended learning outcomes, the assessments etc – has been designed with the clear aim of ensuring that all those who receive the qualification will have met all the Criteria.
  • Systems are in place to ensure that all Criteria will be met by all students/candidates receiving the qualification for the period of prescription; and
  • The institution has adequate resources to maintain and, where appropriate, increase the achievements of students/candidates meeting all the Criteria.

Under its Procedures, ARB will normally prescribe a qualification for a period of up to five years. Thereafter, an institution must apply to renew prescription for further periods.

Why does ARB conduct a consultation?

Before prescribing a new qualification (i.e. recognising a qualification for the first time), Section 4(3) of the Architects Act 1997 requires ARB to consult bodies representative of architects which are incorporated by royal charter and such other professional and educational bodies as it thinks appropriate.

Who does ARB consult?

ARB typically consults with the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA), the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW), the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA), and the relevant RIBA region.

Depending on the nature of the qualification, ARB may also consult other related professional and/or educational bodies such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the Engineering Council (EC), the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE), the Institute of Lighting Engineers (ILE), the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMECHE), the Institute of Acoustics (IOA), the Institute of Structural Engineers (ISTRUCTE), and/or the Society of Environmental Engineers and the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE).

What information will ARB send to a consultee?

ARB provides consultees with the details of the Board’s stated decision in relation to prescription of the qualification, and the reasons for that proposed decision. It is important to remember that when being consulted, the Board has not actually made a final decision in relation to prescription. ARB will provide details of the decision it is minded to make, pending the any consultation responses that it receives and final representations made by the institution.

ARB will also provide consultees with a copy of its Procedures for the Prescription of Qualifications, the Criteria for Prescription and information provided by the institution which describes the qualification.

What type of information can most usefully assist ARB?

ARB welcomes any candid and relevant information that can assist it in coming to a final decision on prescription of a qualification. Any comments or observations that a consultee can offer in relation to the key objectives as outlined above will be of particular use to the Board. ARB particularly welcomes comments and observations on any connections a body may have with an institution in terms of accreditation/education. Additionally, ARB finds it valuable to receive information a consultee which may be able to provide in relation to its own accreditation of the relevant qualification. In essence, any information that can provide the Board with confidence, or otherwise, will be of value.

Will a consultation response be seen by anyone other than ARB?

As part of its commitment to being open and transparent, a copy of any material that is submitted by a consultee is provided to the institution. This is so the institution has the opportunity of submitting any final comments or representations to ARB in respect of the consultation responses before the Board reaches its final decision.

How long will a consultee have to respond to ARB’s requests?

In line with the Better Regulation Task Force’s recommended benchmark, ARB normally offers consultees three months to provide a response.

However, in order that the institution applying for prescription receives a timely decision, the Board may ask consultees to respond within a shorter timeframe.

Where can more information about ARB’s prescription process be found?

Please see the Prescription Process pages of this website. The Schools of Architecture page lists the institutions that currently offer prescribed qualifications.

Who are the key contacts at ARB for further enquiries?

Should you have any queries in relation to a consultation, please contact the Accreditation Team (