About ArchAdemia

Learn more about the platform, its founders, tutors and how a membership works.


Gain valuable industry insights, practical knowledge and learn from our amazing guests!


Useful articles, tips, tricks & content updates. A great place to start to learn more about us.

Get in Touch

Need support as a member or have a query about the platform, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How to qualify as an Architect | RIBA Part 3 | EP5

A detailed discussion on what it takes to qualify as a Licensed Architect in the UK.

Here, this is called ‘The Part 3’, which is the 3rd and final qualification needed to become a registered architect with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). We explain how to NAIL your written work, exam and final interview. We also give you a ton of pro tips and crucial advice to make the process as pain free as possible.

Podcast write-up

Table of Contents

Returning to Practice After Your Masters 0:30

Kenny opens by discussing what changes when you return to work in an architectural practice after your masters. He asks Jack and Adam for an overview of the step back into practice life. Jack opens by discussing the difficulties in getting a placement post masters during what was still a very difficult economic period.

Adam notes that his return to practice was based on an architectural competition win for the practice that he ultimately ended up working for. He notes that this journey would have been delayed slightly without this competition win as it gave the practice the cash flow needed for his role.

Jack talks about how it took him slightly longer to find a Part 2 architectural assistant role and how he was helping out at the same firm Adam worked for when he received a formal offer from an architectural practice based in Liverpool.

They discuss how the expectancy increases in the Part 2 role when compared directly to your Part 1 year out placement. They discuss how there is a different pressure at Part 2 in that software proficiency is expected so the onus shifts to understanding wider elements of an architecture project.

They discuss how they went from being withing large practice environments at Part 1 to small offices of less than 5 people at Part 2 which expediated their career progression as they had a lot more responsibility when compared to working within a larger practice.

Kenny notes how Jack and Adam wanted to enrol on the RIBA Part 3 course as soon as possible as becoming a fully qualified architect was always the key driver in their careers. They discuss the pros vs cons of pre and post RIBA Part 3 qualification.

They note that passing the Part 3 course allows you to clearly define your job title, which can be surprisingly difficult. The Part 3 qualification allows you to legally use the title architect and place your name on the Architects Register.

Adam notes that his first mentor at Part 2 level was an architectural technician which enabled him to dramatically upskill at architectural detailing, an area where he had the least experience at that stage in his career. Adam notes that a good attitude was key to him getting the most out of mentorship at this stage in his career.

Do You Need to Plan Your Route to Qualifying? 11:22


Kenny asks Jack and Adam did they have a plan when considering their route to Part 3 qualification? They discuss the RIBA professional experience development record (PEDR) and how this formally identifies any areas that need to be addressed with regard to additional experience. They also discuss a hybrid approach between the PEDR and a self-awareness of your own progression in identifying weaknesses in your skills/experience.

Adam notes how his PEDRS highlighted that most of his experience was between RIBA stages 1-3 at Part 1 which allowed him sit down with his practice mentor and ask for post stage 3 exposure at Part 2.

Jack advises how the PEDRs can become overwhelming if you don’t fill them out in real time and in line with your current progress. He says that for Part 1, he stayed on top of them but for Part 2 he let them build up and then had a couple of years’ worth to fill out which, in addition to the other Part 3 commitments, left an unnecessary level of administration.

Jack personally felt that this was the most challenging and time-consuming element of the whole Part 3 process. Adam notes that filling them in daily/weekly is the best advice he can offer.

They then discuss, with your practice mentor, how to approach gaps in experience. They note that most practices are experienced in the Part 3 process and will already be aware of filling the gaps. They also discuss the costs associated with the Part 3 course and how some practices will subsidise or pay for the course but will expect a minimum commitment upon qualification.

When Is the Right Time to Sign Up? 22:10

Kenny touches upon the intricacies of the RIBA Part 3 and asks Jack and Adam if they felt ready at the time they signed up for the Part 3. Jack discusses how he didn’t feel ready at up but intended to use the situation as a measure of what his current ‘level’ was. In turn he notes that the course does then prepare you to pass the Part 3 offering additional confidence as time progresses. He notes that he purchased every single book on the reading list which he then read on holiday.

He does note that this approach probably isn’t for most people but as a result he developed a ‘best practice’ way to do things from the textbooks and an office based ‘real world’ version. He then utilised a hybrid approach of the two which gave a well-rounded approach to the Part 3.

They then go on to break down the requirements of the complete RIBA Part 3 submission talking about how you enrol in January, complete 2 residentials at the University of Chester and then undertake the final exams and interview in the September.

Adam then discusses how intimidating it can be when you witness somebody undertaking the Part 3 but in reality, you naturally bridge the skills gap by the time you get to final submission. He advises to not to be intimidated! They then discuss the differences between how the Part 3 is structured in the north and south of England which may influence your decision of where you study.

Adam discusses the advantages of undertaking the Part 3 within a small, medium and large practice and the various advantages and disadvantages of each.

When Do You Start Your Coursework? 32:20

Kenny then asks Jack and Adam at what point did they start the course work associated with the RIBA Part 3. They discuss initially how they wrote a synopsis of their proposed case studies for approval by their tutors.

They discuss how the project Jack wanted to use for his case study was quite unorthodox and how he utilised this to structure his case study. In the absence of a formal contract, Jack notes that he adopted the structure of; What incident happened? How was it dealt with and then how should it have been dealt with if a formal contract was in place. Jacks mentor at the time said this was an interesting approach which forced him down a critical analysis route quite naturally.

They discuss the purpose of the RIBA Part 3 Case Study and how it demonstrates a critical analysis of a chosen project through the RIBA work stages. They note how this is not a diary and discuss the recommended structure of how to write it. Jack then discusses the benefits of writing your case study as early as possible to get the most out of the process and get feedback from your professional studies advisor.

Preparing for Your Exam and Interview 41:32

They then discuss how you are expected to undertake all the written work and exam preparation at the same time as your full-time roles within an architectural practice. They discuss the items of coursework that can be immediately undertaken like the CV and self-appraisal and note how they tried to complete these items as early as possible.

They discuss their own methodology and how they extended their working days to accommodate the additional work requirements. They note how they formed a study group who met 3 evenings per week. A crucial piece of advice is to surround yourself with as many people undertaking the Part 3 course as possible as you collectively cover a lot more bases.

They discuss the completed submission documents and how to prepare for the exam. Jack notes that once all the written work is completed, you then shift your attention and 3 evenings per week to entirely exam focused preparation. They note how they completed multiple past exam papers to prepare and succeed in the final exam.

Adam notes how he got a ‘lay person’ to read his written work to ascertain if it read well from a non-architectural perspective. He would encourage you to continue to revisit your written work for as long as possible as the exam preparation will highlight additional elements to cover if necessary.

How to Nail the Exam 53:40

They discuss how practice makes perfect when it come to the exam questions and how they felt confident as a result by the time their final exams arrived. They discuss the day of the exam and how the exam is structured in a way that mimics a typical, albeit harsh, day within an architectural office.

They discuss the email structure of a lot of the exam questions and how writing less shows an element of competence as long as you do cover what the question is asking. They go on to talk about the relationship between the exam and interview process and how this should be treated. Jack notes that you could have the most amazing answers to the exam but if you can’t confidently converse and ‘own’ the content of your answers at the exam stage then you may still fall short.

The interview should be treated as a discussion with peers and showing a level of confidence based on all your hard work will serve you well.

Pro Tips for the Final Interview 01:09:25

Kenny then asks Jack and Adam how it feels on the day of the interview and how you prepare for it. Adams notes that prior to the interview, you should self-critique your entire submission with your office mentor and own the shortcomings in the interview. The course tutors note that in some instances you can rescue a poor exam at the interview stage.

They note the intimidation factor of the interview process and talk about their own experiences. Jack discusses how he researched his interviewers beforehand and noted their professional interests and experiences. They both note that the idea of the interview is a lot more intimidating than the reality. The interviewers are not there to catch you out!

They discuss the difference between how you receive your results if you pass vs fail with passes delivered to your office and fails delivered to your home address.

Does Anything Change After You Qualify? 01:21:16

Kenny then touches on the journey after you formally qualify. He asks what changes in your day-to-day role, and they then discuss an additional level of confidence as you feel a level of validation for all your hard work.

Jack mentions how he immediately asked for a pay increase following his qualification and with this came additional professional responsibilities. He mentions that the construction phase of a project is largely based on your relationship with the site manager or main contractor. Forging good relationships goes a long way.

Q&A 01:25:36

This week’s question comes from a Part 2 ArchAdemia member who is about to enrol on the Part 3 course but feels they have experience gaps with respect to PEDRs.

Kenny notes that this question was organically covered earlier in the podcast.

Scroll to Top
Join our Mailing List.
Be the first to know about new content, special discounts & subscribers receive a free resource pack!
We respect your privacy. Your information will not be shared with anyone.