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Architecture

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We are seeking creative, intelligent, motivated individuals, with outstanding artistic ability, a strong three-dimensional sense, good writing skills, and a solid grounding in mathematics or physics. 

Why St John's?

St John's is a diverse and supportive community of highly talented individuals, who live and study in a beautiful 11-acre environment in the heart of Cambridge. The College wants its architecture students to thrive - socially, academically, and beyond - and so it provides some of the greatest resources of any College in terms of amenities, teaching, and financial aid: 

  • dedicated College financial aid funds for architecture students
  • generous annual grants for books and architecture materials
  • financial support for travel related to your architectural studies
  • needs-based living grants of over £10,000 per year
  • a professional architectural drawing board loaned to each student for the duration of the course
  • an on-site Art Room, always open
  • a large, well-stocked, and expanding College Library, always open
  • prizes for academic and artistic merit
  • exchange programmes with international universities 
  • financial support towards the University's language centre courses
  • availability of summer bursaries which allow students to pursue educational or career development opportunities during the summer
  • opportunities to design and build in the College: recent examples include an architecture student-designed recording studio, and design work for the world-famous annual May Ball

College Tutor and Director of Studies

Once in residence, the College appoints to each student a Tutor and a Director of Studies. While the Tutor looks after all aspects of a student’s welfare, the Director of Studies looks after the student's academic progress and often teaches them too. Both the Tutor and Director of Studies are there to help and support students to fulfil their potential. 

The Architecture Course

The undergraduate architecture programme assumes no previous academic background in the subject. Design Studios lie at the heart of the course; here you will work on specific design projects, where you will develop your architectural skills through drawing, research, rendering, and model-making, using a range of techniques and technologies.  Studio work is complemented by a rigorous range of courses in History and Theory, Construction, Structures, and Environmental Studies.  

Each year’s work is assessed through a combination of written exams, submitted essays, and your portfolio of coursework from the Design Studio.  In the third year students research and write a dissertation on an architectural topic of their choosing.

The Cambridge degree satisfies Part 1 of the UK Architect Registration Board’s qualification for those wishing to go on to a career as a practising Architect.  The course trains you in a wide range of skills and develops your critical thinking, and so students are well positioned for a wide range of careers outside of professional architectural practice. 

Architecture is a very demanding course, which requires long hours of design work in the studio. Because most students are enormously committed and passionate about the subject, they do this willingly, but it is only fair to warn applicants that it is extremely difficult to combine architecture with a very time-consuming outside activity such as a high level sport or semi-professional acting or music.

 

Directors of Studies

Mark Breeze - Architecture

College Teaching Associates

UCAS Code: K100

Entry Requirements

A-Level and IB Choices Art, Mathematics or Physics, and an academic arts subject are highly desirable A-level and IB Higher Level choices. Please note that Art tends to provide a better preparation for our course than subjects such as Design and Technology. Typical offer levels are: A-level: A*AA in suitable subjects; IB 40-42, with 776 at Higher Level and we make offers that are reasonable for the particular candidate given their circumstances. 

Artistic Portfolio and Sketchbooks 

All applicants invited to interview are required to bring a portfolio of their own recent artistic work, along with sketchbooks.  We want to see a range of subject matter that illustrates your personal interests, experience, imagination and ability in the visual and material arts.  Please note this isn't expected to be work of an architectural nature (e.g. plans, sections etc). We are keen to see informal and preparatory work, as well as more formal work.  Original drawings and paintings often form the basis of portfolios, but work can be in any media; large physical models and sculptures can be shown in a series of photographs. 

At-Interview Assessments 

All applicants invited for interview are required to take both a written and a drawing University assessment at the College when they come for interview.  The written assessment will be a 30-minute essay response to a specified question; the drawing assessment will be a 30-minute sketching assignment. Neither assessment requires any preparation in a specific topic.  We will provide paper, pens, and drawing materials.  More information can be found on the University’s At-Interview Assessment page

Admissions Interviews

Those who are invited for interview will have two interviews.  The aim of the interviews, which last about 25 minutes each, is to find out about your motivation and aptitude for the course you have chosen and to discuss your portfolio in person.  We are not testing your factual knowledge on the subject.  We try to conduct our interviews in a friendly and informal manner, and you should not feel daunted by the prospect of them.


Studying Architecture at St. John’s was a very rewarding experience. The College went out of its way to help me get the most out of my degree - it offered huge amounts of support; personal, academic and financial, which allowed me to travel extensively and broaden my interests even further. There were opportunities to meet lots of different people from diverse backgrounds, both in terms of the...
Annette Desouza
As someone who is equally interested in the sciences, humanities and arts, I enjoy being able to develop my knowledge and skills in a variety of different subject areas, which is something the Architecture Tripos at Cambridge does perfectly! Between studio projects, field trips, supervisions and lectures, there is never an opportunity for boredom and the small cohort of about 45 students means...
Students of Architecture at Cambridge are lectured on a range of subjects beyond the core design curriculum. Art, design, writing, history, engineering and their various combinations and offshoots make a dense but coherent degree.Lectures are supplemented by supervisions. From the second year students choose the lectures for which they will have supervisions. Unlike some other Colleges, St. John'...
Luisa Respondek - Architecture
'I chose to study Architecture because I was fascinated by the fusion of artistic and analytic aspects which allowed me to study a broad range of stimulating subtopics. Shaping and reflecting on not only the way we live but also on our cultures and identities, architecture can really have a profound impact on us which has been significant to me while growing up in various countries around the...

Further Information

Mr Mark Breeze is always happy to hear from potential applicants. He can be contacted via email: meb35@cam.ac.uk.


Architecture Course Video, courtesy of the University of Cambridge