Skip to main content

Architecture: Professional Practice (PgDip)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time blended learning

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

On this programme, students will acquire an in-depth understanding of the legal and economic aspects of architectural practice and construction procurement, and the related skills necessary to practice effectively on entry into the architectural profession.

On this Diploma programme, students will acquire an in-depth understanding of the legal and economic aspects of architectural practice and construction procurement, and the related skills necessary to practice effectively on entry into the architectural profession.

The programme is designed to be undertaken whilst in full-time employment within an architectural practice or related construction industry organisation. It is taught by blended learning methods using the internet (including on-line seminars and tutorials), supplemented by short on-site courses. The full-time version is a fast track route allowing completion within nine months.

The Diploma is prescribed by the ARB in relation to entry on the register of architects, and validated by the RIBA as equivalent to the RIBA Examination in Professional Practice (the Part 3). The previous incarnation of this Diploma course, which ran until 2016/17 received commendations from successive RIBA Visiting Boards including from the latest, in July 2016, where it was commended for its ‘breadth, depth and rigour’.

Distinctive features

  • Study in one of the top schools of architecture in the UK
  • Based on acclaimed research expertise within the Welsh School of Architecture and run by a leading author and expert in the field
  • Study while you work in practice; this course is taught by distance learning and short courses, where the emphasis is on workshops and group working
  • Available as a one year full-time qualification.
  • Benefit from a small cohort size, individual tutoring and the wide variety of expert speakers and topics covered.
  • Assessment methods via a wide variety of written assignments, no examinations
  • Supported by an active alumni network


Student on the PgDip Architecture: Professional Practice
The Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture has equipped me with the legal, professional and contractual knowledge needed to pursue a career as an architect. The expertise of the course leaders was a huge benefit and the small cohort gave us the opportunity to discuss topics in depth, taking our understanding to a new level. I would highly recommend this course to anyone wishing to complete their Part 3 and qualify as an architect.
Jenny Saunders, Loyn + Co

Where you'll study

Welsh School of Architecture

We aim to make the world a better place through contextually sensitive, sustainable and beautiful architecture.

  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4430
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB

Admissions criteria

To apply for this course we require you to hold the qualifications prescribed by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) at Part 1 and Part 2, plus a minimum of 12 months professional experience compliant with ARB requirements.

Occasionally we may waive this criteria in cases where candidates are in the process of having non-compliant qualifications approved by ARB and/or are sitting the ARB Prescribed Examination.

Candidates who are not intending to become registered architects, or who are already registered, are advised to consider the Master of Design Administration degree.

Applicants whose first language is not English or Welsh must satisfy the English Language requirements for entry to the University by attainment of the standard IELTS requirement of 6.5 overall in IELTS with 5.5 in each subscore.


Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

This course is available on a one year full-time basis and is undertaken while students are in an approved employment setting.

There are three 20 credit modules and one 60 credit module that make up this course.

The course is taught by distance learning and supplemented by short courses, normally two days per 20 credit module and four days per 60 credit module, and. We also hold final assessment days in May or June. The activities you carry out during your employment contribute to your learning experience and are monitored by the School.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

You will complete all modules in one academic year. The modules completed are: Industry Context, Professional Services and Construction Contracts, all 20 credits and Professional Practice, 60 credits.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Industry ContextART20720 credits
Construction ContractsART20820 credits
Professional ServicesART20920 credits
Professional PracticeART21060 credits

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

On this course you will be taught through blended learning: a combination of distance learning methods and on-site courses.

The distance learning methods will mainly be delivered through detailed course notes and guided reading. We will also send you regular written feedback on your work. There will be one half-day on-line seminar event for each module. Recordings of lectures and seminars will also be available on-line through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central.

The distance learning element is supplemented by on-site courses, normally two or four days, where the aim is to build on the base knowledge established through course notes and advanced seminars given by leading experts. These will normally be interactive and involve group workshops, which are designed to encourage you to share experience and knowledge gained in practice. These short courses play an important role in our teaching, as they offer you an opportunity to interact with fellow students.

Due to the nature of this course, you are responsible for reading any emails sent by module tutors or announcements made through Learning Central on a frequent basis.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a range of course work, including structured assignments, case studies, reports and essays (see module descriptions for more details). There are no examinations or class tests.

How will I be supported?

All of our students are allocated a personal tutor when they enrol on the course. A personal tutor is there to support you during your studies, help you reflect on your performance on the course and advise you on study techniques, module selection and career planning (in conjunction with the University’s Career Service). You should have regular meetings with your personal tutor to ensure that you are fully supported.

You will normally receive at least three individual tutorials, which may be on-line or in person.

All modules make use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where students can access discussion forums and find course materials including recordings of lectures, links to related materials, past exam papers and examples of student work from previous years.

Cardiff University also offers a wide range of support services which are open to our students, such as the Graduate Centre, counselling and wellbeing, financial and careers advisors, the international office and the Student Union.


Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment. More specifically, formative feedback helps you to:

  • identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;
  • help staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Formative feedback will be given on all assignments in the form of written feedback with guide grades.

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is feedback that contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a module or programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improve. All feedback should directly link to the module grading / assessment criteria.

Summative feedback on this course will be given on all assignments except for those submitted immediately before the final assessment period.

Summative assessment is made through a variety of course work assignments, depending on the module (there are no examinations or class tests). These include a feasibility study, structured assignments, case studies, and an experience evaluation, as set out in the module descriptions. There is also a professional interview.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you and academic staff will focus on precisely what they want you to achieve within each Module. 

Knowledge & Understanding:

On completing the Programme you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

The structure and regulation of the construction industry and the architectural profession within the UK

The constraints on and enablers of development, including the main economic and legislative controls

The methods of procuring design services, the use of appropriate terms of appointment, the meaning and extent of professional and design liability and the requirements of PI insurance

Different methods of procurement, appropriate standard and non-standard contract types (traditional and complex), the implications for risk distribution and management and methods of handling claims and resolving disputes

The principles of project management and quality assurance and examples of how these systems may be applied in practice

The key methods of managing the design process, including the integration of the work of all members of the team

Intellectual Skills:

On completing the Programme you will be able to:

Identify and evaluate sources of information (including current research work), relating to the construction industry within and outside the UK

Reflect on and critically evaluate the management of a real-life practice and project

Analyse complex situations, and exercise independent judgement in evaluating and reaching decisions regarding those situations; explain reasoning behind this evaluation clearly and logically

Exercise initiative and personal responsibility in managing tasks at a professional level

Professional Practical Skills:

On completing the Programme you will be able to:

Undertake a comprehensive analysis of the constraints and enablers relevant to the feasibility of a proposed development project

Explain and follow the Codes of Conduct and Standards of Performance relating to the profession of architecture

Assess the design services required for a project, and propose appropriate procurement arrangements, terms of appointment and fee arrangements.

Critically evaluate and compare commonly used procurement arrangements and contract forms, in terms of distribution of risk and design liability.

Administer a construction contract of a small to medium scale and contribute to the administration of a large and complex construction contract.

Make informed judgements when presented with complex and difficult contract administration problems, including the assessment of claims, explain reasoning behind this evaluation clearly and logically, and communicate the conclusions to the rest of the project team

Coordinate and manage the work of the project team for a small project, and contribute to the management of a larger project within an inter-disciplinary team.

Communicate effectively with the client and the project team, including managing the forms of documentation used and the flow of information between members of the team.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On completing the Programme you will be able to:

Plan your continuing professional development over a set period, including the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, and evaluate whether these aims have been achieved

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2021/22)

Fees for entry 2021/22 are not yet available.

Students from outside the EU (2021/22)

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year.

Additional costs

The University will cover any additional costs that are essential for you to pass the programme. For this reason, you will be provided with a small financial allocation as required.  The details of this will be provided by your Programme Lead throughout the academic year.

You will be responsible for your own travel and accommodation expenses for the short courses.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

What the student should provide:

You will need access to a computer with word processing software and access to the internet in order to study on this distance learning course. We recommend that you use a laptop, which you can travel with when you come to the School for tuition. A USB or hard drive to store your work is also recommended. It is essential that you back up all work on a regular basis.

You will normally be required to be in employment before you enrol on the course, and also be able to fund travel and accommodation expenses for the short courses you attend at the School.

You may also wish to purchase some of the key texts for the course. Although the texts required for study are available in the School’s library, and many of these are available in electronic downloadable format, there are benefits to owning your personal copy of key works so that you may access them whenever they wish.

Careers and placements

Students who undertake this course are required to already be in employment. However, this course is designed to enhance their professional development, and aid in career progression.

Our track record with this type of professional course is excellent. All students who graduated from the previous incarnation of this course (which required students to undertake a work placement, rather than being in employment) were all employed by their summer graduation ceremonies.

Successful completion of this course will enable students to register with the ARB and subsequently practice as an architect in the UK.


You are required to be in employment in a related field as part of this course. You are required to find your own employment location before the course begins, such as an architects practice, or an approved construction industry firm.


Postgraduate Master’s Finance

If you’re starting your master’s degree in September 2020 or later, you may be able to apply for postgraduate student finance to support your study at Cardiff University.


No fieldwork is required for this course, although some of the assignments will require critical analysis of projects and practice management methods encountered in employment.

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2020 dates.

Make an enquiry

Contact us for more information about this course.


Learn more about our truly global university.

Discover more

Related searches: Architecture