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Architecture: Professional Practice (PgDip)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Part 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.


A leading school of architecture

Study in one of the top schools of architecture in the UK.


Acclaimed research expertise

Based on acclaimed research expertise within the Welsh School of Architecture and led by Professor Sarah Lupton; a well-known expert and author of books on specialist topics relevant to the course.


Variety of assessment methods

A wide variety of assessment methods including written assignments, videos and webinars. There are no examinations.


Small cohort

Benefit from a small cohort size, group working and peer review.


Study while you work

Study while you work in practice; this course is taught by blended learning, using a wide range of innovative delivery methods.


Two years part-time

Available as a two year part-time qualification.

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 (See 'how will I be taught below.) The part-time version is completed over two academic years (i.e. October to June).

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 course has received commendations from three successive RIBA Visiting Boards including from the latest, in July 2021, when it was commended for ‘its synthesis of academic rigour and practice’.


Ross Hartland
I think I always knew that one day I would set up my own practice, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit toward architecture and for me it was a case of when would be the best time to give it a shot. In this respect I owe a great deal to the WSA’s Part 3 course and the course leaders Professor Sarah Lupton and Manos Stellakis, their curriculum goes beyond what is expected at Part 3 and provides very relevant and useful knowledge which gave me the confidence to launch my own practice.
Ross Hartland Initiate Architecture

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

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your certificate and transcripts which show you have the qualifications prescribed by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) at Part 1 and Part 2.  If your certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.
  3. Evidence that you have completed a minimum of 12 months professional experience compliant with ARB requirements. Please provide additional evidence to support your application such as signed and dated employer references.
  4. A personal statement which includes your reasons for studying this programme and any experience with issues related to legal and economic aspects of architectural practice and construction procurement within your previous studies or professional career.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student 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 is a part-time blended learning programme taught over 2 years for a total of 120 credits

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

You will complete the three 20 credit modules in the first year, with the 60 credit module being taken in year two.

This programme is normally undertaken while you are in a relevant employment setting, and much of the professional experience will contribute to learning.  You are required to find your own employment location, usually before the course begins, such as an architects’ practice, or an approved construction industry firm. The work should be of a sufficiently high quality so that it directly relates to the subject matter of the course, provides material on which coursework can be based, and contributes to the acquisition of discipline specific skills.

The programme will include around 60-75 hours of live events (over two years). You will also need to undertake private study on a regular basis in order to complete the various elements of coursework.

As a rough guide, for a part-time student at least 1.5 days per week of work experience should contribute directly to the learning experience, and at least 8 hours per week should be set aside for study time.

We recommend that you discuss the commitment with your employers, including making arrangements to attend live events and for further study leave as is necessary. Depending on your work and personal commitments, you should consider whether the part-time programme might be more appropriate.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

You will complete a selection of modules in the first year, with the rest being taken in year two. The modules completed in the first year are: Industry Context, Professional Services and Construction Contracts, all 20 credits.

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

Year two

You will complete your remaining module, Professional Practice (60 credits) in year two.

Module titleModule codeCredits
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?

You will be taught through a wide range of blended learning methods.

Course material will be available in the form of detailed course notes, wikis, and pre-recorded video presentations. There will be regular live-streamed events, including webinars and online workshops given by leading experts, and a blog updating you on course events and current industry developments relevant to the course. Several days of on-campus events are also planned, if COVID restrictions permit.  All on campus events will be live streamed for those who prefer not to attend in person.

There will be regular contact throughout the year. Each module will have two days of live with at least one lunch time webinar, meaning that there will be one live event at least every four weeks. This will be supplemented by the weekly blog, discussion boards relating to specific topics, regular written feedback on your work, and individual and group on-line tutorials.  You will be encouraged to maintain a reflective journal on your professional experience, which will inform the assignments and the tutorials. All events are designed to encourage you to share experience and knowledge gained in practice. Recordings of material will be available on-line through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central.

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), together with a professional interview. There are no written examinations or class tests.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor when you enrol. 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 through Collaborate (the University online package for virtual seminars, and one-to one or group meetings) with your personal tutor to ensure that you are fully supported.

You will normally receive at least three individual tutorials during the course, using Collaborate (as above)

All modules content will be shared via the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including recordings of lectures and links to related materials.

Cardiff University also offers a wide range of online support services which are easily accessible to our distance learning students, such as counselling and wellbeing, financial and careers advisors, the international office and the Student Union.

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:

  • Demonstrate a systematic and in depth understanding of the methods used to regulate development, the construction industry and the provision of architectural services within and outside the UK;
  • Critically evaluate and compare procurement systems, including collaborative arrangements, assessing their implications for the role of architects, for risk distribution and management and for methods of handling claims and resolving disputes;
  • Demonstrate a systematic and in depth understanding of the methods of procuring architectural services, the use of appropriate terms of appointment, the meaning and extent of professional liability and the requirements of PI insurance;
  • Critically evaluate procedures for managing architectural firms, the design process and the provision of architectural services throughout all stages of a project;
  • Outline the principles of project management and quality assurance and discuss examples of how these systems may be applied in practice;
  • Explain 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 critically evaluate sources of information (including current research work), relating to the construction industry within and outside the UK, to determine their authority and reliability;
  • Construe the individual and combined effect of key terms (express and implied) in professional services and construction contracts on the obligations, rights, and level of risk assumed by those involved, including duties to third parties;
  • 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.

Professional Practical Skills:

On completing the programme you will be able to:

  • Undertake a comprehensive analysis of the enablers and constraints (including institutional, legal and economic) 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 architectural services required for a project, and propose with justification appropriate procurement arrangements, terms of appointment and fee arrangements, explaining how those fees would be presented and negotiated;
  • Propose effective project and practice management procedures, including for the management of physical, financial and human resources, for communication, and for business development and marketing;
  • Compare and critically evaluate procedures for tendering (at various levels of design development), and for post tender negotiations and project planning;
  • 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 problems encountered in architectural practice, 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;
  • Exercise initiative and personal responsibility in managing tasks at a professional level, including time management, recording, planning and review, and demonstrating the ability to act in a collaborative manner;
  • Plan and undertake a study of a relevant topic, justify and communicate the results clearly and in a manner which would be accessible to a client, to professionals and to other researchers, using a range of formats and media, including essays, reports, and on-line presentations.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £1,750 None
Year two £1,750 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £3,225 £2,500
Year two £3,225 None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

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

You will be responsible for your own travel and accommodation expenses for any events held on-site.

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 be normally 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.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Career prospects

At the start of the programme you would normally already be in employment. However, this course is designed to enhance your 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 session were employed by their summer graduation ceremonies.

Successful completion of this course will enable you to register with the ARB and subsequently practice as an architect in the UK. Graduates have gone on to work in architects’ practices, multidisciplinary firms of consultants, with developers and contractors, and in several cases set up their own firms


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 2023 dates.

Make an enquiry

Contact us for more information about this course.


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.