What's it Like to Study Architecture?

Gain an insight into what it's really like to study an architecture degree. Our readers share their experiences:

Architecture at the University of Liverpool – Rachel

Rachel James

Rachel hails from the North West of England. Whilst studying art at A level she discovered a passion for the built environment, so decided to apply for a place on the BA Architecture course at the University of Liverpool. We caught up with Rachel during her time at uni:

What inspired you to study architecture?

  • Studying 3D design at GCSE was the springboard to my excitement in spaces and creating enclosure using planes. The prospect of being involved with the ever changing built environment and creating spaces for people to engage with and also become excited by, were the main driving reasons for choosing architecture. 
  • I developed an interest in architecture whilst studying art at A-level and chose to base my projects on the subject area. So it wasn’t until I was 17 that I fully recognised my interest and potential within the study area having being prompted by my art teacher at school who had noticed my naturally growing interest.

Why did you choose to study at your university?

  • Liverpool School of Architecture is such an engaging and interactive environment to work within and the architecture school teaches at such a personal level that I was confident that it was the best place for me to develop.

What do you like about the course?

  • It is a fast moving course with constant excitement at the next stage of the design process, and I thoroughly enjoy the constant challenges thrown at us. 
  • There is a good mix of design aspects and theory based modules which feed in to each other and allow you to extend your knowledge in the subject.

What learning methods does your department employ?

  • Studio modules are taught with a mix of group work and individual tasks, which allow you to develop skills in team work and to also be self-critical. Deliverables of projects are outlined, however it is up to you how you reach those and what work methods best suit you. This independent working style, for me has been very successful in gaining confidence in my capabilities and driving schemes towards personal interests within the scope of the design brief.
  • Alongside studio modules, there are two lecture series a semester. These are taught with guest lecturers who offer their expertise in the topic areas. It's highly engaging for students as their professional experiences really give you an insight into what's possible.

What aspects of the course are you finding difficult & does the department support you well?

  • The pace of the course and being self-critical are aspects I find difficult.
  • Time management is highly important and the efficiency at which I can work has definitely been challenging at times, however deadlines set are always reasonable and tutors are approachable out of teaching time to talk through problems.
  • I have dyslexia which does make exams and lectures particularly difficult for me. The university provides a student support team who meet with me regularly and discuss any concerns I have, they then follow on from discussions by acting on comments and changing processes for my exams and areas which I feel are a slightly larger, and longer term issue. They are very approachable and have helped me massively during my time studying at Liverpool.

Have you been on any placements? 

  • I was successful in securing a summer work placement with Formroom Architects.
  • Working on the concept stage of a community centre project, all the way through to a proposed scheme gave me a huge appreciation for the importance of time management, team roles and being responsive to others ideas to ensure the most effective outcome is achieved in a professional environment.
  • An eagerness to gain wider experiences within the sector was recognised with the offering of attending design team meetings on site, meeting clients and contractors whilst also working alongside other architects on live jobs. Undertaking a wide range of tasks within the office environment allowed me to gain an appreciation for the diverse industries of design, management and construction.
  • Introducing a professional understanding to the subject has been massively important in inspiring me with different design approaches, processes and the architect’s role in a wider construction context.

Will you be going or have you gone on a year abroad? 

  • I am hoping to stud abroad as a postgraduate as I feel there is a lot that can be learnt from diverse teaching and design approaches.

How are you funding your studies?

  • I currently work 2 days a week in retail alongside my university studies. The time management can be hard at times as I work in Manchester the majority of the time, although I try to use it as a driver to get my work finished!

What about the social side of things at university, does an architecture student find much time for it? 

  • Personally, I think the social side is really important, serving as a well earned break from work. Within a week I will try to find time to go out with house mates, meet friends, go to the gym and also visit home on occasions. It is this time out that helps me stay fresh and engaged with the work.

What do you plan to do once you’ve graduated?

  • I hope to undertake a placement as a part one student with a medium sized firm where I can gain professional experience and further my knowledge. 
  • I'll then take a master’s degree in architecture in order to eventually become a fully qualified architect.

How has your department supported your career aspirations?

  • Tutors are always willing to share experiences, answer questions and offer guidance on career options and ways to support your interests. They are always very open minded when offering advice and it is the honest, open discussions which have helped me to learn more about the professional choices which may follow the degree and what to expect when entering the industry.

More about Architecture.