A shake-up of architecture education could mean that students gain a stand-alone honours degree after three years instead of the conventional seven years.
The standard architecture degree consists of three years of academic study, at which point a part 1 qualification is gained. This is followed by a year in industry and two more years of academic study to gain part 2. Another year in industry results in a part 3 qualification. The three parts are successive "passports" to being accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects. The institute is proposing to decouple part 1.
Wendy Potts, head of the school of architecture at Portsmouth University and member of a RIBA group that reviewed the structure of architecture courses, said the change will mean that students who do not wish to continue after three years benefit from having a degree of equal standing to other disciplines like the humanities.
Professor Potts said the new structure recognises the role of architectural practices in the education and training of architects. Students would go on to a practice for a year after three years of study.
On return to their departments, they would put forward a design proposition developed over six months. She said: "Gaining part 1 will be dependent on the success of their proposition and should bring together both academic work and experience gained in industry."
After gaining part 1 students would either proceed along an "academic" route or the traditional part 2 professional/design route. The academic route would lead to a masters. New proposals for part 3 are being debated for inclusion in the new structure.