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The Master of Architecture (MArch) – A Guide

The Master of Architecture (MArch) is a professionally-recognised qualification enabling students to gain the RIBA Part 2 award – an important step on the way to becoming a registered architect. This two-year course builds on the academic knowledge gained during an undergraduate degree in Architecture, as well as your professional portfolio.

If you’re interested in studying a MArch Architecture programme, this page will give you an overview of the RIBA Part 2 qualification’s entry requirements, structure and funding situation. We’ve also covered the other types of Masters in Architecture available.

Or, you can begin your search for a Masters degree in Architecture by browsing the courses listed on our site.

What is the Master of Architecture (MArch)?

The Master of Architecture (MArch) is a UK qualification that is accredited by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Completing a recognised MArch programme involves gaining RIBA Part 2 – the second stage in the path to qualifying as a practising architect.

It’s worth bearing in mind that some institutions have slightly different names for this qualification and you may come across MPhils, Diplomas and PGDips that also provide RIBA Part 2.

If you want to become a registered architect, the important thing to make sure is that your course is accredited and recognised by RIBA and ARB.

The MArch (RIBA Part 2) takes two years to complete and comprises academic study, studio-based research projects and a dissertation.

Master of Architecture (MArch)
Type Professional
Subjects Architecture
Qualification Level 7 (NQF)
Length 2 years
Availability United Kingdom
Credits Value 240 CATS / 120 ECTS

What are the entry requirements for MArch Architecture?

You’ll usually need an undergraduate degree in Architecture, with a classification of at least 2.1 (some institutions may allow a 2.2). Your Bachelors should have been studied at a RIBA-approved university and given you RIBA Part 1 (or equivalent).

In addition, you’ll need around a year of professional experience gained after graduation and will supply a design portfolio during the application process.

How can I apply for the MArch?

Applications for MArch (RIBA Part 2) courses usually open in November or December for programmes beginning in September of the following academic year. Deadlines vary according to institution but can be as early as February.

You should apply directly to the university you’re interested in studying at, completing an online application form. You’ll usually need to supply the following documents as part of this process:

  • Personal statement
  • Two references (one academic and one professional)
  • Design portfolio, including projects from your undergraduate degree as well as practice work

If successful, you may be asked to attend an interview with an admissions officer, either in person or via video conference.

What’s it like to study the MArch Architecture?

The MArch is a two-year programme designed to help you prepare for life as a registered architect, so it’s unsurprising that it’s an intensive and academically rigorous qualification.

You’ll generally be expected to study for the equivalent of a full-time working week (37.5 hours) through a combination of independent learning, lectures, workshops and seminars.

Over the duration of the MArch, you’ll study several core and optional modules worth 240 CATS points (120 ECTS). In the second year, you’ll complete a major design and research project that’ll form the basis of your dissertation.

As part of the MArch programme, you may also have the opportunity to go on a field visit or spend time working in practice.

How is the MArch Architecture assessed?

Assessment for these programmes is primarily coursework-based. You can expect to be tested via several methods, including essays, your portfolio and design reports.

The dissertation completed in the final module of the MArch (RIBA Part 2) usually accounts for 40 CATS credits – a third of the second year.

How much does the MArch Architecture cost?

For the purposes of tuition fees and student finance, MArch RIBA Part 2 programmes are usually treated as undergraduate courses.

This means that tuition fees are capped at undergraduate level for domestic and EU students. This is currently:

  • £9,250 at English universities
  • £9,000 at Welsh universities
  • £4,325 at Northern Irish universities for Northern Irish and EU students, £9,250 for non-Northern Irish UK students
  • £1,820 at Scottish universities for Scottish and EU students, £9,250 for non-Scottish UK students

If you’re an international student, you’ll have to pay tuition fees at a higher rate for the MArch. This will typically be up to £25,000 per year.

Other costs associated with the MArch Architecture

Tuition fees and living costs aren’t the only expenses associated with a Masters in Architecture. You should also budget for:

  • Architectural materials for your portfolio
  • Books
  • Printing
  • Field trips

How can I fund the MArch Architecture?

If you’re beginning the MArch within three years of graduating from a Bachelors in Architecture, you will usually be considered a continuing student and should (re)apply for undergraduate student finance (not the UK’s Masters loans).

Each country in the UK has its own undergraduate student finance system:

  • English residents will receive a tuition fee loan and a means-tested maintenance loan
  • Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish residents will receive a tuition fee loan and a means-tested grant / loan to help with living costs

You won’t normally be eligible for undergraduate student finance in the following circumstances:

  • You’ve beginning the course more than three years after your undergraduate Architecture degree
  • You’re studying on a part-time basis
  • Your Masters degree in Architecture isn’t a RIBA Part 2 course

In these cases, UK residents should apply for a postgraduate Masters loan.

What about international students?

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may be eligible for UK student finance.

Other international students should look into alternative sources of funding, such as scholarships, charities and trusts. We’ve written a guide to Masters funding for international students, which has plenty of tips for places to look.

What’s the difference between MA Architecture and MArch programmes?

There are lots of types of Architecture Masters degrees other than the MArch Architecture.

One of the most common is the MA in Architecture, which is offered by many UK universities and differs in several ways to MArch Architecture courses:

  • They don’t provide the RIBA Part 2 element needed to continue on the path to becoming a registered architect. However, an MA in Architecture may provide part of the experience needed to apply for a RIBA Part 2 MArch.
  • They are one-year long, rather than two, and worth 180 CATS points.
  • They are sometimes more specialised than a MArch, allowing students to focus on a particular area such as sustainability or urban design.
  • Tuition fees for MA Architecture courses aren’t capped at undergraduate levels, unlike the MArch.
  • Students should apply for a Masters loan to help fund an MA in Architecture, not undergraduate student finance.

There are also MSc Architecture programmes, which are broadly comparable to MA equivalents but may have a more technical focus.

In general, MA and MSc Architecture courses are more likely to be taken by practising architects wanting to specialise in a particular area, or by those whose employment plans don’t require the RIBA 2 award.

Search for a Masters in Architecture

We list all kinds of Architecture Masters on our website – why not take a look and begin your search for the perfect postgraduate programme?

Last updated - 29/05/20

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