Architecture is one of the few subjects in the University that combines the intellectual challenge of a Cambridge Tripos with the opportunity for creative design. The course provides a grounding in the wide-ranging principles of architectural design through both lecture-based courses and studio-based design work. Cambridge places a particular emphasis on how human activity relates to the built environment.

The design work is at the core of the course and serves as an instrument for developing an informed yet personal attitude for the subject. From the very start students are involved in the process of making; necessitating rapid and continuous judgement. This development of personal judgement is perhaps the main reason for coming to University, and in Architecture perhaps more than most subjects, there is no 'right answer': you cannot be told what the examiners are looking for.

Projects of varying length and brief content - not restricted to buildings per se - are set to equip students with the skills necessary in making the leap between conceptual thought and material production and serve to develop skills in observation, the translation of an idea and representation.

Course structure

The majority of the educational life of a student, as well as the overall grade assessment, is allocated to design. This necessarily entails formal exercises in criticism, involving the presentation of studio work in which specialised studies are brought together. Lecture courses in history, philosophy, theory, construction, structural and environmental design and other studies counterbalance and inform the studio work. In the final year of the degree students are able to specialise in a topic relating to one of the lecture courses, or other field of study, through a written dissertation. In some circumstances this may also include other media such as film. The design and lecture courses are taught by a combination of resident academics and visiting tutors, some of whom combine teaching with work in practice.

The qualification for part one of the membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects can be obtained by the satisfactory completion of the course.


A portfolio review will form part of the interview process. Applicants are expected to bring with them a portfolio of recent work, which may include (but is not limited to) drawings, sketchbooks, art projects and photographs of 3D work.

Applicants are required to sit the Architecture admissions written assessment, if invited for interview. More information can be found on the University website.  

The standard A Level offer for Architecture is A*AA. The standard IB offer is 40-42 points with 776 in three Higher Level subjects. There are no required subjects, but A Level (or equivalent) Maths and/or Physics are useful.

Director of Studies

Mr Eric Martin 

I am a practicing architect and a Year 3 Design Fellow at the Department of Architecture.

After graduating in Mexico, I acted as a consultant on the renewal of Guadalajara's historical central parks. In London, I worked at Allies and Morrison Architects where I became Associate leading a team of designers dedicated to large-scale architectural and masterplanning projects such as the new Ericsson headquarters in Coventry, the refurbishment of London City Airport, and a new urban quarter in Cairo, Egypt.

As Partner at Delvendahl Martin, the practice I lead with Nikolai Delvendahl, I was responsible for the prize-winning proposal for the redevelopment of Vabaduse Square and St Paul’s Church in the City of Rakvere, Estonia. Most recently I was responsible for the refurbishment of 30 Cannon St, a Grade II listed office building in the City of London and I’m currently leading cultural, commercial and residential projects in London, New York and Mexico.

I have taught and lectured internationally, and was appointed Design Fellow at the Department of Architecture of the University of Cambridge in 2009, and Internal Examiner in 2013.

More information

Department of Architecture >>