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Study architecture courses in Australia

Field of Study: Architecture Course Information

What does it take to design and build a masterpiece? If you’re a prospective architecture student, you should know that it requires plenty of inspiration and creativity — plus a qualification in architecture.

Architecture is a fascinating field that blends art, culture, science, technology and even elements of business. Courses in architecture are available at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

For more information about this field, have a look at the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) website. For details about registration, refer to the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia website.

If you are interested in this area, you should also browse through the built environment profile. Some specialisations within engineering and technology, environmental studies and humanities and social sciences may also be of interest.

Browse architecture Courses by state

VET study in architecture

The VET sector does not provide any courses that provide professional qualifications in architecture. See the profile for built environment for information about related courses, particularly in architectural drafting. VET courses in the built environment field prepare graduates for paraprofessional roles in areas such as drafting, construction and surveying, but can also act as a pathway to further study in architecture. When researching courses, it helps to look into pathway arrangements that may provide entry into your preferred course.

To become a professional architect, you must complete an accredited degree in the higher education sector.

Undergraduate study in architecture

Courses, majors and specialisations in architecture

There are two types of architecture degrees: a five-year undergraduate version and a two-part version that begins with an undergraduate ‘pre-professional qualification’ in architecture — or arts, applied science, design or environmental design with an architecture major — followed by a two-year or three-year postgraduate qualification in architecture.

Both qualifications must be followed by a year of practical experience and a further exam before you can register to practise. Whichever route you choose, you will study everything from engineering, structural design, building and project management to graphics and design. If you would like to study even more widely, consider a double degree — you could combine architecture with construction, engineering or even law.

As is common in courses leading into a particular profession, core units tend to predominate in architecture courses, although there may be some room for electives. Apart from the usual lectures and tutorials, you can expect to spend plenty of time in the design studio and on practical assignments off campus. Most architecture courses require at least some competence in mathematics, and most allow full-time study only.

Australian qualifications in architecture have always been well recognised, but the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Architect Register has made working overseas much easier. Qualified architects in Australia and other member countries can apply to practise in countries ranging from Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

The Australian Institute of Architects launched a foundation in 2014 that promotes the benefits of architecture and design to the Australian community. The foundation’s focus is on projects such as exhibitions, education programs and scholarships. The institute has also proposed strengthening the role of architecture in government policy, which would include initiatives such as the integration of architectural and urban design issues into the school curriculum.

Although it is not new in the field, the US-style degree (with a general pre-professional degree followed by a postgraduate qualification in architecture) is likely to become more common in the future.

Where to study architecture

There are several things to consider when you’re shopping around for an architecture course. The first is whether you can get in, as this is a competitive field. The poor graduate ratings (see below) haven’t deterred architecture aspirants from applying in droves, keeping cut-offs high. You should also see whether the course is on the list of accredited degrees (check the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia website) and find out how much opportunity for hands-on learning it includes. Just like doctors and lawyers, architects need to gain practical experience in their field before they are allowed to practise. In fact, two years of practical experience under supervision (one of them after graduation) are required before you can sit the Architectural Practice Exam.

Many universities incorporate work experience in their architecture curriculum to prepare students for what is ahead and to give them a chance to get some of this practical experience — in fact, some even call for student contributions for campus redevelopments. Some departments either recommend or require that students take time out for a stint in professional practice before they finish the degree (or before continuing to the second phase of the degree in a two-part course).

Degrees in architecture are available at a number of universities throughout the country, although it's important to research your options as there may only be one or two in your state. If you are considering following the two-part degree structure, courses in design and related fields with a major in architecture are available at a number of universities.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in architecture field

Unfortunately, for many, architecture courses don’t live up to their expectations. Graduates are typically less satisfied with their courses than those studying in other fields. In the Course Experience Questionnaire survey, graduates reported low levels of satisfaction with the skills they gained. Employment prospects have worsened slightly, with 40 per cent of graduates looking for work in 2014. A large number of architecture graduates went on to complete further study in 2014 (40 per cent). Starting salaries are well below average, at just $42,074, but bear in mind that salaries go up once students are registered architects.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in architecture

Courses, majors and specialisations in architecture

This is a relatively small field of study as far as program and student numbers go, with most coursework programs offering graduates the chance to qualify as architects. These programs are usually not designed for graduates of other disciplines looking for a full career conversion; they are generally only available as the second part of the compulsory two-part program structure, following on directly from 'pre-professional' undergraduate study in a field such as design, built environment, applied science or arts. Graduates of these two-part programs, just like those who have completed five-year undergraduate degrees in architecture, will need to complete a period of supervised practical experience and an additional examination before they are eligible for full professional accreditation. See the Australian Institute of Architects website and the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia website for full details.

There are also programs that enable those already working in the field to broaden their knowledge or gain specialist skills in a particular area of practice.

One in five students undertake research, and programs are usually undertaken in thesis or project mode. The latter, sometimes called design or creative work mode, involves research leading to the production of an architectural design, rather than a written thesis. Students may be expected to produce an accompanying piece of written work.

Where to study architecture

A number of universities offer postgraduate architecture courses. These are mostly at masters level, and most institutions offer both coursework and research options. When researching your options, it's worth looking out for anything special that's on offer at one institution but not others (perhaps an elective or specialisation that interests you, such as sustainability).

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in architecture field

According to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey, recent graduates of postgraduate architecture courses were not very satisfied with the teaching quality of their programs, the skills they gained or their overall course experience. Job prospects are slightly below average in comparison to other fields, with 35 per cent of graduates still seeking work four months after completing their course. Starting salaries remain well below average at $50,754, but keep in mind that graduates of qualifying programs are not yet fully qualified architects and can expect to earn more once they have completed their accreditation requirements.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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