MArch Sustainable Architecture

MArch FAQs

Here is a sample of recent questions from prospective students.


Who will be teaching on the course?

The current Programme Leader is John Carter.

John has over 25 years’ experience of architectural practice, and has previously taught at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University and on the Interior Architecture degree course at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Specialising in sustainable design, Paola has over 30 years of architectural practice experience. In addition teaching at CAT, she teaches and undertakes research at Oxford Brookes University and the Oxford Institute of Sustainable Development. Previously she taught sustainable architecture at Nottingham University and Cardiff University.

The Senior Lecturer is Trish Andrews, who has been affiliated with CAT since 1990 and worked as CAT’s Environmental Building Consultant before the course began.

We also have Visiting Professors Pat Borer and David Lea, who have a wealth of experience in designing and constructing 'green' buildings. Both have been closely involved with CAT in the design and development of ultra-low energy buildings, in the development and use of benign building materials and technologies, co-operative ways of building and healthy internal environments. In addition to the course staff we have a list of over 20 leading architects from all over the UK who have agreed to contribute to the course as visiting lecturers, tutors and critics. Students will also have access to tutors from the related MSc Sustainability and Adaptation suite of programmes.


What teaching methods will be used?

Teaching and learning at CAT is a collaborative process. The course is run in a way that treats students as mature adults who take responsibility for their own learning.

Our main pedagogical approach is learning by doing. This means that much of the course promotes practical testing and building. For this reason we avoid conventional “crits”, instead encouraging students to evaluate their own work and progress with the help of tutors. We do this through open reviews in the design studio, as well as exhibitions in the community, with our “live” project clients, and by presenting to students on our other programmes.

Through the years of teaching experience at CAT, we’ve found that this method of teaching enables students to develop the confidence and capability needed to tackle the building challenges they will face once they enter back into the professional environment.


Will the course focus on technology instead of design?

No! The course will be a balance of architectural design and technology in which the two will be integrated. We will ensure that students have a portfolio of project and design work that will be up to the high standards expected at Part II level.


Do I have to have Part I before I can do Part II at CAT?

Candidates for this course must have either exemption from ARB/RIBA part 1, a relevant undergraduate degree or equivalent experience. For acceptance onto the programme students do not need to have exemption from ARB Part 1, however to register as an Architect on the ARB's register Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 are required. Further information can be obtained on the ARB website.


This all looks great. Does this mean that you have RIBA validation?

ARB prescription and RIBA validation are two separate processes. Every school of Architecture has to have prescription from ARB, but there is no compulsion to have validation by the RIBA. However, please be assured that the programme is a formally recognised Part II programme.

We are widely recognised as unique in UK architectural education – hence our strap-line, “doing architecture differently”.

Between a quarter and a third of all architects registered with the ARB are not RIBA members, so although the RIBA does represent the majority of architects in the UK it does not represent all shades of opinion within the profession. ARB is the UK’s statutory regulator of architects. ARB keeps a public register – of around 33,000 architects. Every architect in the UK has to meet the standards that it sets for education, training and practice, not to be mistaken for RIBA membership. It is the sole legislative body within the UK responsible for allowing the use of the title Architect and for allowing the bearer to be a practicing Architect within the UK.

The majority of our students think that it is a positive virtue to be independent of the RIBA. That said, students who have successfully completed our Part II course have gone on to sign up for Part III RIBA courses at a range of other Schools of Architecture.

The CAT Professional Diploma Part II was one of seven schools in 2010 that was recognised by the European Community, demonstrating equivalence with all other courses throughout the 27 member countries. This process of recognition was assisted by ARB.


Your part II course looks very interesting. Is it possible to do it on a part-time basis?

We appreciate that students are under pressure to work whilst studying. However, it is important to be realistic about the time implications of the programme. We are not intending to offer the programme in part-time mode, although the structure of the programme (i.e. attendance at CAT one week every month) has been designed to accommodate students who wish to maintain a limited amount of employment in practice while they study. You will, however, be expected to devote an average of 35 hours per week to your studies at CAT, and experience shows that in the latter half of the course full-time study, without the distraction of other work, is essential for most students.


I have been away from architectural education for some time and am nervous about coming back to study, can you advise?

We will make special efforts to help students make the transition back to studying and support them in regaining confidence in design and other aspects of their work.


I am interested to know how the course works with UEL and how much time will be spent in Wales/London?

You will be required to attend CAT (in Wales) one week every month from Sunday evening until the following Saturday lunchtime, as well as attending a study tour in February. The course is not run by the University of East London (UEL) and you do not need to attend there. However, the MArch: Sustainable Architecture will be awarded by UEL and you will be classified as a UEL student for the duration of your studies at CAT.


What facilities are available at CAT?

Students will have access to all of the facilities at CAT, such as shared studio space where they can meet, have tutorials and review work. We also have access to other teaching facilities contained in the WISE building at CAT. Importantly, we have space (lots of it) for practicals and hands-on building – with a range of sustainable materials (think timber, straw, hemp-lime, earth, and more). The CAT site itself has a diverse range of examples of sustainable architecture which have been built over the years, allowing students to see for themselves the reality of their design work.


Sounds great – can I come for a visit?

If you’d like to visit us at CAT, to sample the what we do and how we do it, then please let us know and we can arrange that for you. Prospective students often come up for a day (we hold regular open days) to get a feel for the place and meet the tutors and other students. For more information and to sign up for an open day, go here


We are delighted to be embarking on our tenth year of teaching a Part II Architecture programme at CAT. Offering a new and enhanced programme in architecture is very exciting for us. Look forward to seeing you here!

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