RIBA Foundation in Architecture

Develop your first design portfolio to gain access to the creative professions

Live information sessions

We have a number of events throughout the year where you can find out more information about the RIBA Studio programme. These events are the perfect opportunity to ask any questions you may have about studying the RIBA Foundation in Architecture, the RIBA Certificate in Architecture (Part1), or the RIBA Diploma in Architecture (Part 2). See our event listings and booking information below. 

The RIBA Foundation in Architecture

If you are new to the field of architecture and don’t currently have the experience or portfolio to progress onto a Part 1 or undergraduate level course, the RIBA Foundation in Architecture programme will help you develop the skills and portfolio required for further study. We will also help you find an opportunity to gain your first salaried experience in practice.

Course overview

The RIBA Foundation in Architecture course is designed to develop your skills in creative and conceptual thinking and help you build a portfolio of work that will enable you to pursue further study in the field of architecture.

The course will help you to:

  • develop your skills in creative and conceptual thinking for architects,
  • build a portfolio of work that will enable you to pursue further study,
  • evolve the skills, knowledge, and confidence required to begin pursuing a career in the field,
  • help you to find your first salaried experience in practice.

On this part-time course, you will meet us on a bi-weekly basis and separately with a personal tutor. At some point during and exceptionally beyond the course you will undertake your first salaried work in practice in a creative field for a minimum of 200 hours. If you do not already have a job in a creative practice, the RIBA Foundation team will work with you to find the minimum salaried practice hours which form part of the experience of the course.

The first steps in the application process involve submitting an eligibility form, and preparing a portfolio for the interview. Eligible applicants will then be invited for an online interview. Portfolio submissions are due by mid-October at the latest and interviews take place that same week. Being online, this course allows you to remain in your current employment where you are earning a living and you can be based in any geographical location in the world.

For the purposes of defining work in practice, we define a design practice as either:

  • an architecture practice,
  • interior design practice,
  • landscape or urban design firm,
  • theatre production company,
  • furniture or fashion design practice / production firm,
  • and a range of other closely related design fields.

A professional in the practice will act as a mentor to ensure your range of experience helps prepare you for further studies in architecture. We welcome exceptional recent graduates from the Part 1 and Part 2 courses to act as mentors in practice.

Upon completion of the course, you will graduate with a portfolio of work key to advancing your career. You will have the skills required to progress onto a Part 1 Architecture qualification. Students who complete the RIBA Foundation course with merit or distinction are offered automatic entry to the RIBA Studio Certificate (Part 1) course. Those with a passing to fair grade will be in good standing and invited for an interview after applying.

This is the perfect course for someone with an interest in architecture but who has not had the chance to develop specific skills and who may not have a link into the network of practice. It will provide you with the skills, knowledge, and confidence required to begin pursuing a career in the field.

The course is modelled on the RIBA Studio and directly prepares students for the Certificate Part 1 course. There are joint events including a student-led conference and student representative roles that network between the RIBA Foundation, Certificate (Part 1) and Diploma (Part 2) peer groups.

Students also use the course to prepare for other Part 1 routes including the Apprenticeship and the full time taught routes. We discuss the details of these applications as part of the course.

Student testimonials

“The RIBA Foundation gave me so much confidence in myself and in my work, and not just in the work I completed on the course. It has inspired me to be brave enough to express what I care about and consider how something complicated or difficult can begin to be addressed – even if only at a small scale. The course encourages deep observation of the world around you enabling you to see your environment as it is before you consider how to intervene. It is this observation that allows you to tell the story of a place and the inhabitants of it, giving you the tools to understand what it needs.”

Ingrid McLaren - RIBA Award for outstanding work, RIBA Foundation.

Ingrid McLaren
Amal El Mchrafi

“The RIBA Foundation experience has awakened something in me that had been dormant for years. The programme allowed me to learn a lot in such a short time and showed me that architecture surrounds us like air. Thus, learning through creativity and creativity through learning go hand in hand, creating an infinite circle of newness and originality. I found the teaching and tutoring style to have the perfect blend of guidance, encouragement, connection and camaraderie. The lecturers, in addition to their unquestionable architectural skills, are highly sensitive and insightful individuals, which infuses this programme with a beautiful soul that I cannot recommend enough. I would like to express my gratitude for creating this foundation "and beyond" year, and for believing in us.”

Amal El Mchrafi - RIBA Foundation 2021 Graduate.

Entry requirements

Applicants will be supported in finding the minimum of 200 hours of local work in practice within the creative industries which they will undertake while studying and exceptionally after the course. Eligible applicants will also be supported in developing their portfolio for entry to the Foundation course (in other words, we help you prepare your application to join our course).

You are also required to have:

  • Maths and English GCSE Grade C or level 5 or above,
  • or Functional Skills, Key Skills or Skills for Life Certificates in Number and Communication at Level 2.

The above applies mainly to school leavers.

For applicants with previous studies in higher education including certificate or degrees these would be considered in lieu of the GCSE and Level 2 requirements.

For the RIBA Foundation, students do not have to be British citizens and they do not need to be based in the UK. You can be of any nationality and be based in any country in the world. We will work with you to find a suitable tutor and partner with you on your search for 200 hours of work in practice wherever you are living during the course.

(Note that in the next stage of study on the RIBA Certificate (Part 1), while you do not need to be a British citizen; you do need to be working in practice somewhere in the UK / European Economic Area / Channel Islands / Isle of Man / Switzerland.)

Course content and assessment structure

You will study 6 modules on the course. Each one will cover a different area of thinking within architecture and will help prepare you for studying at Part 1 level. These modules include:

  • conceptual design,
  • establishing expectations in academia and practice,
  • gaining the awareness of an architect,
  • learning to represent ideas like an architect.

You will work on these modules in your own time with the supervision of your chosen tutor. We support you in the selection of a personal tutor from a diverse group of exceptional Part 1 and Part 2 graduates. All of the work is developed in conjunction with your personal tutor who you will meet with on a one-to-one basis very regularly. When it comes to submitting your work for assessment, you will use Oxford Brookes University’s platform to do so. This is an online platform that you will be given access to when you register on the course.

Your design module is the only exception however. Your design work will be submitted and presented online where two or more examiners (from academia and from practice) will be present. This is a great opportunity to get feedback on your work from both academics and professionals in the industry in order to further your personal and professional development.

Course schedule and costs

The annual fee for the 2025 academic year (our first session is in December 2024) will be confirmed shortly.

Fees are expected to rise by 5% per annum. 

How to apply

Applications are now open

Applicants are encouraged to submit their Stage 1 Eligibility Form as soon as possible.

Portfolio tips

We encourage you to include in your portfolio any examples you may have of relevant, creative work. We will share a portfolio guide with eligible applicants to help put their portfolio together but in general it can include:

  • sketches, models, drawings on any topic,
  • photography,
  • collages,
  • music,
  • videos,
  • art in any medium,
  • illustrated literature,
  • your favourite keepsake and the story behind it.

If you are in a career transition, we welcome a portfolio that includes aspects of your current career work.

Information for practices

If you work for a practice we can help you to:

  • offer the RIBA Foundation in Architecture to your employees,
  • hire a student who will be undertaking the Foundation,
  • understand the roles and tasks they are ready to undertake,
  • understand remuneration and responsibility of practices,
  • realise the impact you are making in terms of diversifying the profession.

Please get in touch with the RIBA Studio & Foundation Programme Director, Dr. Maria Faraone ribafoundation@brookes.ac.uk

Information for schools and colleges

Find out how the RIBA Foundation in Architecture could be an access route to Architecture for your students. The RIBA Foundation team is available to run architecture workshop sessions in schools or online. We will deliver the same learning but with a focus on the subjects used in architecture at GCSE and at A level or earlier. This would include classes in:

  • maths,
  • history,
  • technology,
  • geography.

We would also be happy to attend an assembly or career day to discuss routes into the profession.

Please get in touch with the RIBA Studio & Foundation Programme Director, Dr. Maria Faraone ribafoundation@brookes.ac.uk.

Banner image credit: Ani Markova (2020)