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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge


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Architecture at Cambridge

Architecture at Cambridge offers an inspiring and rigorous introduction to the subject. Like other architecture schools elsewhere the core of the teaching is carried out in studios. Projects are set through­out the year and students are required to produce models and drawings to communicate their design ideas. The department provides studio desk space together with workshop and computer facilities. Students are supervised on their projects individually, twice a week typi­cally. Students are expected to master the technical subjects but they are also expected to acquire a much deeper understanding of architectural theory and history than is generally required in other schools. Coursework set by lecturers enables students to build confidence in the application of knowledge acquired in lectures to the design challenges set in studio. This BA degree course varies from most others at Cambridge in that it must be studied as three continuous years and is almost entirely Department based. As a whole the course aims to foster the skills that will enable an individual to continue to learn and develop throughout his or her future career.

The Architecture course at Cambridge is an exciting and varied course.  Topics covered in the first and second year include introductions to environmental design, structures and construction principles, and the history and theory of architecture. At the same time studio projects become increasingly complex as stronger drawing and modelling skills are acquired. By the final year you will be able to write a dissertation on a topic which reflects your interest in a specific area of the course e.g. representation issues, the theorisation of live projects, collaborative practices in contemporary urban design, and to state a preference for one of three different studio approaches.

Full details about the structure and content of the course can be found at the Departmental website.

Architecture in Murray Edwards College 

We welcome around 1-2 undergraduate students in Architecture each year.  Within the College as a whole this means we have around 3-4 undergraduate students, and 1-2 Fellows and Bye-Fellows interested in Architecture or in closely related subject areas. In recent years some have taken advantage of aspects of the Gateway Programme, particularly as regards essay writing. More broadly  they have been very supportive of one another in discussing tactics as regards managing workload, balancing academic work and extracurricular interests,  and how to make the most of the opportunities available to develop stronger representation and writing skills.

Supervision on key lecture courses is arranged each year in consultation with the Director of Studies in Architecture who regularly provides small group supervision in first year, and may sometimes offer dissertation supervision in third year. At Murray Edwards the Director of Studies plays an important role in clarifying priorities at each stage of the course, offering guidance on issues like studio choice or dissertation topic, and regularly giving feedback to students on their progress in studio.

Our students achieve good results, regularly receiving solid 2:1 grades and speak highly of their experience:

‘Studying architecture at Murray Edwards has been a unique experience. While I always received the academic support I needed, I was also encouraged to pursue my interests beyond my field of studies. As an architecture student I highly value the College’s open-mindedness and its engagement in contemporary art.  The College’s effort to support young women in the achievement of their goals is really extraordinary.’

Applying to study here 

We look for students who are enthusiastic about their subject, motivated to learn more and have achieved highly in their examinations to date.  At interview we will be looking for evidence of some of the following qualities:  A strong interest in and commitment to exploring visual ideas; good observational drawing skills; a willingness to experiment with different media in progressing ideas; a capacity for self-critique, an ability to reflect on the lessons of the work of other artists or craftspeople; some awareness of the social, political and environmental issues with which architects need to engage.  In preparing to apply or for your interview it is a good idea to think about where your particular interests lie and what you have already done to pursue this further (eg by wider reading, internet-based research or potentially a placement in architectural practice).

There is no prescribed combination of A Level (or equivalent) subjects required for the Archi­tecture course. Applicants with backgrounds in either the humanities or the sciences have been successful, although a combination of arts and science subjects is considered the best preparation. The majority of applicants have studied Art or History of Art, which provides a better preparation for the course than subjects such as Design and Technology and Technical Graphics. Mathematics at A Level (or equivalent) is also encouraged.  Any offer of study will generally require students to attain A*AA.

Full details of entry requirements and selection processes for Architecture across all colleges can be found on the central University pages.

Moving into a your career 

Our students follow a range of careers when they leave: most have wanted to continue in Architecture while others have been keen to apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities.   Becoming an architect in the UK takes around seven years. Students progress through a three-part scheme laid out by the ARB (Architects’ Registration Board) and the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects). The Cambridge undergraduate (BA) degree con­fers exemption from the ARB/RIBA Part 1 examinations, after which students usually spend a year working as an architectural assistant before proceeding on to a Part 2 course like our MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design. After a further year of work students proceed to a Part 3 course, such as our Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Architecture. While the majority of Murray Edwards graduates have continued with their professional training and qualified as architects, those who have studied Architecture have also recently taken up roles in areas such as museum studies and business acceleration.

We support students in developing their skills and in exploring varied career options through our Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.

Find out more

Many students find it helpful to contact us by email or to visit us to find out more.  You are welcome to do so.