School of Architecture

  • The RIBA Certificate in Architecture
    (Part 1)

    Work towards your Part 1 qualification whilst working full-time in practice.

    Image credit: Lucinda Prophet (2019)


    Register for one of our live information sessions about the RIBA Studio programme »

  • Overview

    The RIBA Certificate in Architecture (Part 1) is for students working in practice, who are looking for an affordable and flexible route towards qualification as an architect. Unlike any studio and lecture based programme in architecture, you will work towards your Part 1 qualification whilst working full-time in practice, under the direct supervision of an architect. This course allows you to continue earning a salary whilst you study.

    This is a truly unique programme and the original route to registration in the UK for students working full time (24+ hours/week in practice) living and working anywhere within the EEA / UK. The course brings together the value of practice-based learning and academic learning. Supported by an office mentor in practice, and in conjunction with a self-chosen personal tutor (subject to approval), you will investigate chosen themes and curate design briefs in academia which have a direct influence on your capabilities in practice. The course is accredited by the ARB and validated by the RIBA.

    This is a very affordable and flexible route into the profession. Your contact with the RIBA Studio team, coursework submissions and examinations all take place online, meaning your proximity to Oxford Brookes is not an obstacle to studying this course.

    Upon graduating from the course, you will be eligible to apply for a Part 2 qualification such as the RIBA Diploma in Architecture. Students who qualify to Diploma through this route are then eligible to take the UK Part 3 which leads to:

    • full chartered membership of the RIBA
    • recognition by the Architects' Registration Board (ARB) for UK architects' registration.

    Entry Requirements

    All applicants must be working at least 24-hours per week in a suitable architectural practice in the EU or EEA and be directly supervised by a registered architect, the Office Mentor, (although the practice itself does not need to be RIBA Chartered), employed in the same practice, and meet the following academic qualifications:

    RIBA Certificate:

    • 3 O-level/GCSE passes including English Language and Mathematics;
    • 2 A-level passes or equivalent qualifications, e.g. HNC
      OR
    • RIBA Foundation in Architecture at Merit level or above

    Tuition fees

    The annual fee for the 2023-24 academic year has been confirmed at £3,150. Annual fees will be subject to a 5% increase each year.

    Course content and assessment structure

    The RIBA Studio is a unique system of practice-based study, in which formally assessed academic work is supported by learning through experience in the student's place of employment, with the academic syllabus sequence mirroring the development and realisation of design projects in architectural practice.

    You will develop your awareness of architectural precedent, in particular through reference to contemporary projects and emergent ideas; you will learn how to evaluate design projects including your own, being aware of your individual position in the sphere of architecture. There is an emphasis on expanding your methods of developing, testing and presenting ideas, placing high value on the design process.

    There are four subjects covered across each course, three of which require the digital submission of course work, while the design subject work is assessed in person through design examinations. There are no lectures or seminars, but there are specific assignments and a series of reading lists to guide you on preliminary resources. The work is developed in conjunction with a personal tutor who you will meet with on a one-to-one basis very regularly.

    Download the course assessment structure »

    How to apply

    Applications for March 2023 are now open.


    Applicants are encouraged to submit their Stage 1 Eligibility Form as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the pre-course online workshop sessions.

    The deadline for receipt of the Stage 1 application (the Eligibility Form) is 31 July 2022.

    The application process consists of three stages:


    Stage 1: the Eligibility Form

    • Download the Eligibility Form
    • Completed Eligibility Forms are due for return no later than 31 July 2022

    Stage 2: Full Application and Supporting Documents

    • Subject to meeting the eligibility requirements, applicants will be provided with the information needed to complete the Stage 2 application.
    • This stage of the application process is the completion and return of a full application form and supporting documents including:
      • A personal statement of 200-300 words explaining applicant's suitability for office-based study, and the reasons for choosing to apply
      • Digital copies of all previous academic qualifications 
      • An extract of the applicant's personal portfolio 
      • Examples of current work in practice that demonstrates the applicant's contribution to project work and current level of experience
      • Written studies and reports: for example essays, or a dissertation, written as part of previous coursework, or practice-related planning reports for which the applicant had sole responsibility
      • An academic and a professional reference
    • Applicants will also be invited to attend an online session, which aims to offer more guidance on completing this stage of the application process
    • Stage 2 applications are due approximately 5-weeks following receipt of the Stage 1 Eligibility Form.

    Stage 3: Online Interview

    • Short-listed applicants will be invited to attend an online interview; this should be regarded as having the status of an entrance examination
    • Interviews for March 2023 entry will take place between June and September 2022
    • Applicants invited to interview will be required to have the information and documents outlined on the Stage 2 Application Form available for discussion.