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Architecture student experience

Architecture at Cambridge

Architecture brings together knowledge and creativity from both arts and sciences. The Cambridge Architecture course comprises studio (design) work (which contributes 60% of the overall grade) and examined courses which address the history and theory of architecture, building construction, structures and environmental design. A dissertation forms part of the third year of the course. Computer Aided Design (CAD) is taught within studios.

Full details of the Architecture course are provided on the Department website, and summarised in the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

Architecture at Churchill

Churchill’s distinctive and distinguished modern architecture. Photo credit: Barry Phipps
Churchill’s distinctive and distinguished modern architecture. Photo credit: Barry Phipps.

Churchill has a distinguished architectural heritage and the striking design of the College continues to inspire creative thinking. In contrast to the historic Cambridge Colleges, with their medieval Gothic and Neo-Classical buildings corralled behind high walls, Churchill’s layout is spacious, open and modern. The groundbreaking architectural competition that brought the College into being is considered by many to be a watershed moment in British Post-War architectural history. Since the foundation of the College in the 1960s, we have continued to commission distinctive buildings and works of art. Recent additions include the multiple-prize winning Cowan Court, by 6a Architects (completed in 2016).

"Churchill is not only the perfect place for an architecture student to live, but a perfect place for them to find inspiration."

Tom, Architecture undergraduate

Graduates of Churchill have made notable contributions to the world of architecture. For example, two of our Architecture graduates are members of Assemble, who made history as the first art, architecture & design collective to win the Turner Prize 2015. Other recent graduates in Architecture have been employed by leading international practices, including OMA, Bjarke Ingels Group and Allies and Morrison, while some have continued to Masters level courses in Land Economy and Management Studies or PhD studies in Philosophy.

With three Fellows in Architecture and graduate students at the Martin Centre (the research wing in the Department of Architecture), Churchill is also notable as a centre for architectural research. In addition, we have engineers and physicists in the College, many of whom are interested in the problems of energy conservation and sustainable design. There is, therefore, a considerable community of architects, designers, and technologists in the College - an informal but valuable mutual support network.

Recent studio work by Churchill undergraduates. Image credits: Tom Nuttall & Inji Kang’

Recent studio work by Churchill undergraduates. Image credits: Tom Nuttall & Inji Kang.


Churchill aims to make three offers in Architecture each year. Architecture applicants need to be prepared to work in a broad range of disciplines. They need to be able to understand conceptual, technical and analytical approaches to the built environment. Architectural students need to be able to draw fluently, to calculate logically and to develop evidence-based arguments persuasively.

We welcome a spread of subjects across the arts and sciences. No specific subjects are required but a combination of A Levels / IB Higher Levels from Mathematics, Physics, and Art (preferably with History of Art) is highly desirable. Other potentially useful subjects include languages, History, Philosophy, and Economics.

If you are from a background where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education, you might like to think about applying for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools or the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.

Subject pre-requisites

Essential Highly desirable/useful
No specific subjects AS or A Level / IB Higher Level Mathematics or Physics are highly desirable. Art tends to provide a better preparation for our course than subjects such as D&T.

For details about potential A Level and IB offer conditions in your target degree, see our Typical Offers webpage and select your course from the University's Course Listing homepage then check out the "Subject Requirements and Typical Offers" link in the Entry Requirements tab.

For other qualifications, see our Typical Offers page.

Admissions assessment

Cambridge University uses a system of common format admissions assessments, specifically tailored to each subject. These give us valuable additional evidence of your academic ability, knowledge base, and potential to succeed at Cambridge. For more information about the admissions assessment in this subject, click on:

Admissions assessments

Written work

You are not required to submit any written work as part of the application process.


If called, you will normally have two interviews. When you come to interview, you must bring a selected portfolio of graphic work you have done in the last year or two. The portfolio typically should contain 10-15 selected recent pieces that demonstrate the range and quality of your skills. Digital work can be included. If you are not studying Art, we recommend that you have some drawing lessons or attend a life-drawing class. Do include preparatory drawings and sketchbooks, which are often more interesting than set pieces. Work done on your own initiative is likely to be more persuasive than coursework, so keep a sketchbook to record your travels - Architecture cannot be experienced adequately by only looking at photographs. When you visit buildings in your travels, try to discern what influences of culture, climate or construction materials give each region you visit its architectural flavour. We also require evidence of your commitment to design.There is no specific reading list for our interviews but we recommend that you study the work of one or two architects who interest you. 

Guidance on work suitable for inclusion in the portfolio may be found in the Department of Architecture Admissions online prospectus (BA Tripos).

Department portfolio guidance

Useful Links


For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.

Admissions Office

Fellows in Architecture