What's it like to study... Architecture

Liam Houghton studied BA Architecture at the University of
Westminster and was awarded First Class Honours. He writes that his
experience was challenging but extremely useful

With developing countries now a fundamental part of the global economy, the world has never been so competitive. The skills one needs to survive and thrive in this environment are thus very highly valued - however, these are not skills one can simply buy.

 A degree in architecture is about refining your mind more than anything else. Of course you will learn the iterative process, how to draw technically, or the engineering know-how to support designs, yet, for me, it is the intense psychological training which holds the most value.

If you are hoping to study architecture in the years ahead I can promise you that, so long as you do yourself justice by investing all your effort, you will be rewarded for the remainder of your life, even if you eventually choose not to go into architecture itself.

You will very quickly be introduced to 'crits'. A fundamental part of the degree, crits are designed to teach students how to put forward an argument and then support it. You will be asked to explain the thought process behind your design and it will often be put under close scrutiny by your tutors, visiting experts or even your fellow students. Years of dedication to this experience - though sometimes nerve-wracking and intimidating - will have profound results. You will become well-practiced at presenting your pitch, improvising to meet challenges, and arguing your case with reason; all highly valuable - and a combination that is often lacking - in business today.

The breadth of study is significant factor which gives a degree in architecture its gravitas. From research, theory and history on one side, to design, engineering and politics on the other, architecture is the silent linchpin of society in the modern world. It is one of the few careers which can genuinely influence people's lives all day and every day, which explains why qualification takes so long and why the degree is so intense.

My personal experience is that you will have to make sacrifices in order to do well. Anyone who has friends studying architecture will report that these students appear to always be up and always be working, and often 7 days a week too. This is not an enforced timetable - in fact you are actively encouraged to teach yourself. This is the iterative process. You are continually exploring architecture, yourself, and your own reasoning. There simply is no defined point to stop; your references are your peers and you will continually encourage each other to improve and to keep at it. It is for this reason that architecture is not something you can just fall into. You have to want it. 

It is a varied subject; one in which it is definitely an advantage to be a good all-rounder because you need to be able to do good business as a result. Yet because it encompasses so much, it needs its experts too. In the middle of the course you will usually be encouraged to take some specialist modules which allow you to apply a greater degree of focus in a particular area of interest to you. I was grateful for this chance to explore myself and ended up producing a body of work in the field of urban design which has taught me a lot. Knowing and understanding how a city works is not too dissimilar to a doctor understanding the vast complexities of the human body. A metropolis like London is like biology on an epic scale, but, unlike in biology, we have the opportunity in architecture to effectively play God.

Dedication is paramount. There is an undeniably high percentage of drop-outs compared to most other degrees, but that is precisely because it is so hard. If you are doing a degree for the student lifestyle, this is the wrong choice for you. The responsibility that comes with the profession is a serious one. Mistakes made just once have the possibility of affecting people for decades, but most importantly, the opposite is true too. The power of architecture is immense and thus the process of harnessing it is not easy, and nor should it be. It is a challenge, but a hugely rewarding one, for society and for yourself.

Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Commonwealth GamesEntertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
The actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN IT Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: IT EBD Teacher job in Runco...

SEN Maths Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Maths EBD Teacher job in Run...

SEN Maths Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Maths EBD Teacher job in Run...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teachers required, vario...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game