British Science Week: Is A Science A Level Really Needed To Study Architecture At University?
2 years ago

Perhaps due to being a STEM subject, it seems to be a common belief that a science based subject is needed if you want to study Architecture as a degree, but is this true?

What Is Architecture?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Architecture is “the art and study of designing buildings”. Although this is clearly correct in its simplest terms, Architecture is so much more; a complex field combining skills in business, art and engineering that aims to evoke emotions within spaces and house communities.

Initially, it is clear to see that an understanding of basic maths and science would be beneficial to your studies, but it is important to acknowledge the significant weighting of the design aspect within the industry.

University Requirements

According to UCAS, most Architecture related university courses have entry requirements ranging from CCD to AAB (88 to 136 UCAS points) in A Level (or equivalent) grades and five GCSEs at grade C or above, including maths and English. However, courses at Oxford and Cambridge are known for requesting A*AA grades (152 UCAS points).

With many Architecture courses, the most significant aspect of your application will be your portfolio, not your grades. As Architecture is a predominantly design based subject, having a varied sample of your best work which demonstrates your style and abilities is likely to be what gets you an initial interview with your chosen university. Many would argue that your portfolio is the deciding factor for your place on a course. Within your portfolio, you should focus on communicating your interests and abilities illustratively as opposed to focusing on architectural drawings. Including a variety of sketch work, paintings, illustrations, photography and sculptures/models from a range of subject matters can be a great way to portray your personality to someone who has never met you before. Remember, this portfolio is speaking on your behalf, a university can teach you basic design principles, but they will struggle to teach creativity.

From personal findings when researching university courses a number of years ago, I found it was more common for universities to specify that an art and/or essay based subject was needed as opposed to a maths or science based one. Of course, whether the degree is a BA or BSc plays a large part in the entry requirements. Despite this, I know of lots of people who study architecture and never took a science or creative subject at A Level, all of which relied on their personal statement and portfolio.

Other Routes

It is important to highlight that there are more than one ways to access university, and although I cannot speak on these personally it is still worth exploring the options available to you if you have studied A Level alternatives (BTEC’s, <Level 5 Apprenticeships). The skills gained through more practical study methods will always be useful in such a hands-on degree.

Personal Experience 

I achieved 11 GCSE’s, all ranging from A* - B, with my chosen subjects being Graphics, Geography and Business. In Sixth Form, I initially chose to do Business BTEC, Chemistry, Psychology and Graphics. Within 6 weeks I had dropped Chemistry A Level as the increase in difficulty from GCSE was far more than originally anticipated, despite averaging a B in Core, Additional and Further Chemistry. By the end of Year 12, I was averaging a Distinction* in Business BTEC, a B in Graphics and was failing Psychology. I was advised to switch Psychology to another subject for my final year and chose Geography as I had achieved an A* in this at GCSE. As a result, I had to complete two years worth of study and coursework for Geography in one year, whilst also keeping up with my other subjects. 

In the end, despite dropping a subject and failing another, I finished sixth form with a Distinction* in Business Studies and a B in both Graphics and Geography, a total of 136 UCAS points. This enabled me to start my Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship in Architecture and Study at London South Bank University. 

I felt it was important to highlight that you have so many options available to you if you are struggling or not enjoying a subject. If you need to switch subjects, there is always more than one way to achieve your end goal and dropping a subject is unlikely to impact your goals long-term. 


Taking a science subject at A- Level will never be a bad choice, especially for STEM subjects, however more important than studying a specific subject is studying subjects you enjoy. You are more likely to achieve a higher grade in a subject you’re passionate about than one you felt forced to take, meaning it will be easier to meet the entry requirements of courses that ask for UCAS points.

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