BlogUniversityPros and Cons of a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at UNSW

Pros and Cons of a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at UNSW

Now that you’ve got your head around what it’s like studying Architecture at UNSW, we’d only assume that the best next step is to find a real student’s real opinion on the course. 

If that’s you, then you’ve come to the perfect place. We got to chat to Celine, a graduate from the Bachelor of Architectural Studies course who told us everything there is to know about the program — the pros and cons, the ups and downs and the ins and outs of studying at UNSW. 

Let’s get started! 

Why should you study an Architecture degree at UNSW?
Top 3 Pros of an Architecture Degree
Top 3 Cons of an Architecture Degree
Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
Things to Know Before Starting UNSW Architecture
What Makes this Degree Different
Motivations for Studying UNSW Architecture
Potential Career Paths

Why should you study an Architecture degree at UNSW?

Architecture UNSW - Quote

We see the work of architects everywhere. From the buildings on our streets to the manufactured landmarks that make our cities unique. To use a perfectly appropriate building metaphor, architects are pretty much the foundations of our civilisation, and we’re the bricks that go on top… maybe?

What we’re trying to say is that architecture is absolutely everywhere and if you’re someone that wants an essential job that’s creative, innovative and flexible, the Bachelor of Architectural Studies at UNSW may be the perfect degree for you. 

As a student in the Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree, you’ll be learning all about the social and environmental value of the architecture that’s all around us. You’ll be getting to know how particular buildings meet our individual and collective needs through a social, historical, economical and cultural lens.

When combined with a Master of Architecture at UNSW, you’ll graduate with the qualifications to become a fully-fledged architect. Sound like the degree for you? Well, keep reading! 

Top 3 Pros of an Architecture degree

#1: Broad and useful content 

Once you graduate from the Bachelor of Architectural Studies at UNSW, you can be confident that you’ll have developed all the essential tools and knowledge needed to take the architecture world by storm.

Celine can vouch for this, “So I think what’s really great about Architecture is the set of skills that you develop. First, it’s learning in a design-sense, where you start to notice a lot of things that you didn’t notice before. I think architects have to know a little bit about everything.”

#2: You’re guaranteed to find a great group of friends

Despite finding the Bachelor of Architectural Studies difficult at times, Celine told us that one of the major positives of the degree is the high chances of finding a supportive group of friends. 

I think it’s good to expect that you’ll find a close community because you’re bonding through hardship and there’s a lot of peer-to-peer learning. Especially if you’re not from a design background, people need to tell you how to do things by way of experience. So, I would definitely say to expect that,” Celine explained. 

#3: There’ll be plenty of funny (and confusing) class moments

Celine is no stranger to weird and wacky uni experiences. In fact, one of the pros that she gave us was how funny the degree can be and maybe that comes down to the fun, witty cohort but, still, it seems like a great selling point. 

Here’s just one of the many bizarre situations that Celine has gotten to know: “I think the funniest thing from my year has been that someone’s brought in a straight up grape to class and they got an HD. And you’re like ‘why did I even bother with all this work when someone can straight up bring a grape to class and get a good grade?’” 

Celine gave us the breakdown of what you can expect the Bachelor of Architecture Design’s cohort to look like: 

You’ve got people who do all the hours of work, that’s one sector of people that you can expect and the other sector are people who really can’t be bothered and they just break a plate at breakfast and then bring it to class.” 


Top 3 Cons of an Architecture degree

#1: Without a background knowledge in art, it can be difficult

If you don’t possess the background knowledge of an artistic maestro, don’t let this one deter you. But, with that being said, Celine did mention that it can be a little tricky to catch up when most of your peers already have the knowledge. 

“If you’re not coming from, say, a background where you’ve done arts or music or have any workshop tools, then you have a really steep learning curve because I think they sort of throw you in there,” Celine explained. 

So, while it may be a little tricky if you’re someone with no prior arts experience, it’s in no way impossible. You could always use your elective subjects to hone in on that artistic knowledge. 

#2: You’ll need to be extra confident in your abilities

This is definitely not a con if you’re someone that already takes great pride in your work but Celine made it pretty clear that there’d be a lot of public speaking and presentations to do, so if you’re someone that gets worried about those things, here’s your head up. On the other hand, it would be a great degree to develop these essential public speaking skills! 

“You can expect a lot of learning to come from presentations. If you’re not comfortable speaking to people in public, it’s difficult because anyone can be a great designer if you can produce the best work, but if you can’t sell it, if you’re not good at saying why your work is great, then you’ll struggle a lot.” Celine said. 

#3: Limited scope of direct career opportunities 

“You graduate from Architecture as this young hopeful designer, and you want to do something. But in actual fact, what they teach you in this degree is only 5% of what you need to know in real life,” Celine told us. 

Celine explained that despite the name of the degree, not that many students go on to become fully fledged architects. In fact, Celine said that you’ve got a lot of Architecture graduates going into sales and marketing and the technical side of things. 

So, this isn’t to say that you won’t get a job once you graduate, because you will. This is to say that it’s not always extremely likely that you’ll become an architect once you graduate and that’s fine! To become an architect though, you’ll need to complete a Master of Architecture. 

Any regrets? 

Celine doesn’t have any regrets, per se, but she does admit that there were some less-than-great parts of her degree that, had they been different, may have made her experience even better. But for the most part, it sounds like the Bachelor of Architectural Studies was a perfect fit. 

What do you wish you had known before starting UNSW Architecture? 

#1: First year will probably be disproportionately hard

You heard it here first, folks. Celine told us about a classic saying that comes from the cohort of UNSW’s Bachelor of Architectural Studies:

“So, there’s this common saying in Architecture where they make the first year unnecessarily hard. That’s sort of how they cull people from the degree. So, in my first year to my second year, it went from 300 people to maybe 180.”

Here’s your light at the end of the tunnel, even if your degree is looking difficult to manage, you can feel confident in the fact that it’ll get a little easier. Or maybe you just learn more so it feels that way — I guess we’ll never know. 

Celine added, “It’s a good indicator. If you can survive first year, then you can basically finish the degree.” 

#2: You’ll need good time management skills 

Another titbit that Celine has endowed upon us, is the importance of developing solid time management skills off the bat.

Celine explained, “I think the difficulty of the degree comes from your personal time management. So, I would say if you’re wanting to study Architecture then consider how you personally manage your time. A lot of people say that it’s so difficult but really, if you’re not procrastinating 24/7 then it’s doable.” 

What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities? 

#1: High rankings 

According to the QS Top Universities Rankings, UNSW comes in at 4th in Australia for their Architecture and Built Environment courses. This means that you can be confident that you’re receiving some of the best architectural education in Australia. 

#2: Plenty of social and educational resources

Celine explained to us that alongside your standard classes, lectures and tutorials, there are plenty of other ways to get involved. These are usually arranged by UNSW’s Architecture Society which, lucky for us, Celine used to be the president of! Here’s what the former Architecture Society President had to say:

What we do in the Architecture Society is try to bring together all the years. One in a social way but then another way is that we wanted to introduce teaching outside of uni. So, not only do we run barbeques, meets and greets, pub crawls but we also try to reach out to people practising. So, we invite people from the field, who do things that aren’t architecture but architecture-related.”

So, if you’re looking for a uni that’s highly ranked with growing societal relationships, UNSW Architecture may be the perfect place for you.

Have a better squiz at the degree right here

What inspired you to choose this degree?

Like a lot of budding architects, Celine saw herself as a creative person who could use this interest and creativity to get to know and design buildings, cities and landmarks. Since this was the case, it really came down to where Celine could develop these skills and put them to use. That place just happened to be UNSW and she hasn’t looked back.

So, if you’re someone with a keen mind for art and buildings, this may be the perfect program for you. 

What are the possible career paths?

Architecture UNSW - Careers

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to work as a qualified architect with just a Bachelor’s degree. To get stuck into planning and creating spaces, buildings and cities, you’ll have to get your Master’s degree.

In saying that, there’s a world of opportunities when it comes to alternate career pathways — studying Architecture is never a one way street. Luckily, with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree under your belt, you will gain plenty of theoretical knowledge and practical skills that are valued in almost any workplace.

You’ve got the creative spark, the visual skill and the customer-focused attitude to smash it in any career from marketing to engineering to teaching! It might just mean that you’ll need some post-grad study — which is totally doable! 

Gemma Billington is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and an undergraduate student at the University of Technology Sydney. While studying Journalism and Social and Political Sciences, Gemma enjoys spending her time at the gym or reading about Britain’s medieval monarchy – ideally not at the same time. She currently creates and administers social media posts for Central News and writes for the student publication, The Comma. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to study a Masters of Medieval History and is very excited about the prospect! 


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