BlogUniversityWhat It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD

What It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD

USYD Architecture - Fact Sheet

Ever wondered what studying a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD is like? 

Well, everything you need to know is just below.

Get scrolling! 

What is a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD?
Core Units for this Degree
How to Get into a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD?

A Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD involves learning how to design for the built environment, which is achieved through USYD’s special studio-based program that allows you to work on local real-world projects. 

Throughout this program, you’ll undertake subjects in architectural history, technology, communications and participate in practical design workshops. You’ll also undertake electives that stem from arts, digital and urban design and sustainability disciplines. 

With access to advanced digital fabrication and modelling labs, studying a Master of Architecture after you complete a Bachelor of Architecture at USYD will provide you with the opportunity to become a registered architect within Australia and internationally. 

Nevertheless, as an architecture student at USYD, you’re eligible to become a student member of the Australian Institute of Architects. As Australia’s peak body for architecture, student members will gain exclusive access to issues of Architecture Australia and be able to attend Institute functions (which are great networking opportunities!).


After you graduate from a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD, you can apply for Honours as an extra year of study if you acquired a WAM (weighted average mark) of 70 across all units.

Why honours? It’s not only highly regarded by employers, but you’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of academic research in your choice of area within architecture. 

Career Paths

A Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD will provide you with the following career paths:

    • Registered architect
    • Project manager
    • Property developer 
    • Urban planner 

Studying Architecture at Other Universities

USYD isn’t the only university that offers architecture as an undergraduate degree and you obviously want to think hard about your options for where you’d actually like to study. If you’re thinking about which uni will best suit your needs, you can check out what it’s like studying Architecture at UTS or UNSW!

Core Units for this Degree

You have to pass every core unit with a credit average in order to successfully graduate from a Bachelor of Design in Architecture. If you fail any of these subjects, it’ll prevent you from continuing onto the next core unit, which will then cause a 12 month-delay in your studies.

First Year

In first year, the core units you’ll undertake are:

Core UnitsDescription
Architectural History/Theory 1This unit will teach you about the history and theories behind architecture. 
Architectural Technologies 1This unit will introduce you to the way that the environment, structures and construction function within architecture. 
Architecture Studio 1AThis studio unit will provide you with the technical and conceptual skills needed to intricately explore the creative intersections between architecture, artistic processes, and place. 
Architecture Studio 1BThis studio unit will continue on the skills you gained in Architecture Studio 1A, allowing you to further understand how to articulate architectural issues within the built environment.  

Second Year

In second year, the core units are essentially the same as in first year but performed at a more advanced level:

    • Architectural Technologies 2
    • Art Processes
    • Architecture Studio 2A
    • Architecture Studio 2B

Third Year

In third year, the core units are primarily architectural theory and the Architecture Studio program. Within these final units, you’ll develop an architectural design project and have to present them to a panel of tutors and other Sydney guests:

    • Architecture Studio 3A
    • Architecture Studio 3B
    • Architectural History/Theory 3

You’ll also have the opportunity to complete an architectural professional practice unit in third year, which is a prerequisite if you wish to complete a Master of Architecture. This unit will enable you to develop a design project which can be enhanced as preparation for your master’s degree. 

For more info on the core units you’ll study, visit the handbook here!


Another advantage of this degree at USYD is the opportunity to go on exchange! As an architecture student, you can do this in your second year or first sem of your third year, because the academic year in the northern hemisphere starts in September—so it’s much easier to acquire studio space then!

How to Get into a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD

The ATAR cut off for this degree is 95. This ATAR isn’t the simplest to achieve, so if you’re looking for other admission pathways into this degree, you can check out more info here!

Prerequisites and Assumed Knowledge

There are no prerequisites for a Bachelor of Design in Architecture, but it is assumed that you have completed HSC English (Advanced) and Mathematics subjects. English (Standard) in the HSC can suffice (as stated in the handbook), yet it would be an advantage to have done the Advanced subject. 


There are numerous scholarships available for undergraduate Architecture students at USYD, some of much are:

What’s the Teaching Format?

Class Structure

A Bachelor of Design in Architecture at USYD is taught in two semesters per year. You’ll have lectures and tutes, which are often run in a ‘studio’ style.

USYD Architecture - Class Structure

In lectures, there are usually around 200 to 300 people as it’s the whole cohort, and you’ll be presented with the theories behind architecture.

In tutes/studios, there are 20 to 24 people and they function as an ongoing discussion and collaboration between students and tutors, rather than the tutor standing in front of the class speaking. These classes are very practical, so you’re encouraged to be constantly working on your designs, investigating design problems and discussing with your peers around you. 

The number of contact hours a week are relatively low, from 8-12 hours, but you’ll tend to spend more time in the architecture building and using the printers/computers to do work. 


The assessments vary per subject, some have essays but most are progressions of ‘submissions’ throughout the semester, which lead up to final presentations in week 13, and final portfolios in week 15 (the second week of the final exam period).

A normal submission includes panels, where you’ll present A1 sheets of paper with a considered layout of information explaining your design with diagrams, renders and technical drawings, a few models at various scales and a 10-15 minute verbal presentation. The weeks leading up to submissions can be quite stressful, as the panel of tutors and guest critics from Sydney that you’ll present in front of is daunting at first—but as you do it so many times throughout the degree, each one becomes easier! 

Skills That You Refine and Learn

USYD Architecture - Skills

The creative and technical skills that you refine whilst studying architecture at USYD are far-reaching.

You’ll learn the basics of Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) in first year, and then you’ll enhance skills in 3D modelling softwares like in Rhino 3D, Grasshopper and Sketch Up. Once you understand how to navigate these programs, you’ll be able to develop laser cutting files and produce more intricate models of your designs. 

As there is a large emphasis on hand-drawn and hand-made presentations, you’ll also build on your artistic skills in drawing and modelling. 

USYD Architecture - Student Quote

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?


Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning students are relatively close due to the school’s small size! You’ll get to know a lot of your tutors and course coordinators throughout your time there, as you’ll often have the same studio tutor for subjects in first and third year.

This is positive about USYD—it’s always nice to show your progress and work with a familiar face. The staff are also really supportive throughout your studies, so if you’re ever struggling with building or designing, they will always be there to look out for you.


The culture within the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning is known to be really great, also due to it’s small-sized faculty!

In doing so, you get to know nearly every other student in your cohort, which is super important so you can help each other through the workload. At times the workload can be overwhelming, so when the printer jams at 2am it’s good to have friends around who can help!

The Sydney University Designers’ Association (SUDA) is a society at USYD that you’ll automatically be a part of as an architecture student. They host a number of fun social events that everyone loves to get around and facilitate connections between you, your professors, professional practicing architects and designers—what more could you want?

It’s also recognised that you’ll spend a lot of time with your cohort working on the weekends, which is a beneficial difference from other architectural degrees. 

Isabelle Plasto is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and in her third year of a Media and Communications degree at the University of Sydney, majoring in Digital Cultures. You can find her work published in Dementia Australia’s August 2020 eNewsletter, an organisation very close to her heart. Apart from writing, Issy loves to travel, cook and boogie to 70s disco music.


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