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The AA School welcomes students from around the globe and from a wide range of backgrounds on an equal basis. In 2017/18 students from over 60 nationalities joined the school, creating a setting for a global discussion, debate and exchange of architectural ideas that makes the school unique.

To help you find out what it’s like to study here we asked our students to tell us something about themselves – read their stories, experiences and tips here.

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Hasan joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2014. He is currently taking a year out for practical training.

Studying at the AA School has turned out to be a completely different experience to what I imagined it would be like. From the amazing experimental nature of First Year, to the wild rollercoaster of years 2 and 3, it has been an incredible journey.

Before joining the AA, I studied at Westminster School, focusing mainly on my portfolio and experimenting with various artistic and creative techniques, so the AA was the only option when it came to thinking of the future in

that way. Its main attraction for me was this way of thinking.

I was awarded a two-term scholarship by the school, and went straight into First Year in 2014. The huge number of short projects in First Year allowed me to build up various interests and skills: where designing an endless casino, building an imaginary space, and photographing the city without looking, helped me to think in a different way.

The Second Year was completely different to the first. A year-long project was hard to get my head around at first, especially after such a fast-paced start to the school. However, the separate unit-based system was an amazing change to how we had studied before. And I now relish it.

As I have now completed my Third Year I am looking to take a year out. However, I am unsure what to expect after I have finally graduated from the school. All I expect is that it will be an incredible ride.

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Davide completed our Foundation Course in 2016 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). He is currently in Second Year.

If you are thinking of coming to the AA School, you must be a devoted and propositive person who is willing to learn, experiment and discover.

As you might already know the AA is an unusual institution. It’s a place in which international people who share the same passion (architecture) but different interests - i.e. artistic interests, engineering interests, interests for robotics, physics, or literature - meet, discuss and propose different views.

It is a school of freedom, which can be a dangerous thing if one does not

know how to use it. You must know it’s a school that doesn’t teach you, but like a parent it makes you grow. You learn depending on how much you are interested in the subject, on your curiosity to ask your school mates what they are doing, and your ability to attend the weekly lectures.

In this school you don’t get told what to do and how to do it, or even how much to do. You are given the freedom of experimentation, and to follow yourself and define your own style. It’s a school that teaches you to make decisions, and be responsible for your own actions and work. It loads you with work to a point that organisation is not an option; overlapping and synchronising work becomes a necessity. You also learn collaboration and cooperation when working in multiple groups.

Your entrance to the following year is determined by an end of the year colloquium of 25 minutes; so you must prepare yourself well. You must want to grow: if you want to grow, this is the place for you, and you will grow well. If you don’t, you won’t. So don’t come to the AA only for the name, be wise and know yourself.

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Nena completed our Foundation Course in 2015 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). She is currently in Third Year.

I joined the AA School in the Foundation Course, now 4 years ago. I came straight out of a conservative and catholic high school in Belgium and needed the creativity that the AA School had to offer.

Architecture in Belgium, and I am sure in a lot of other countries, is much more technical. The AA also offers you the technical and historical aspects of architecture, but it especially focuses on the concepts behind buildings,

and sees architecture as a much broader intellectual field than a lot of schools.

This variety is definitely expressed in the amount of units and their broad reach. This is what attracts me most to the AA, the fact that whatever vision on architecture you have, there is a place for you in this school. It is a school that challenges you creatively and intellectually. There are a lot of international students, and being friends with people from all over the globe really opens your mind and takes away many prejudices you might have.

For me, the AA School is a place where I learned to be myself, where I learn from others, where you help each other grow rather than being competitive. A place where I learnt to be independent, form an opinion on a great variety of topics, and really try to be a critical member of society both questioning and reacting to the changes in the world.

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Claudio completed our Emergent Technologies and Design MSc programme in 2017. EmTech is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

I had been working in London for more than a year before joining the Emergent Technologies and Design MSc programme. I chose this programme because of my main interest in the intersection between data, technology and design.

Among many aspects, I appreciate the programme structure which integrates several seminars and in-depth ‘core’ courses that allow a wide exploration over the field of emergent technologies in architecture. Throughout the

whole year, students are called to cooperate and work in groups with heterogeneous backgrounds and skill sets.

Internationality drives the AA School; and many cultures co-habitat in the home-like venues of Bedford square, which make the environment extremely vibrant. Central London supports the dynamism of the school, and provides a range of career outlets. Moreover, the school offers an ideal ground to network with other students with the same ambitions, and might open up future collaborations.

Once I graduate, my highest ambition would be to join a R&D department in one of the sharpen edge firms in the AEC industry, where design and technology are intimately entwined.

Potential students should evaluate how interested and keen they are in the field and about pursuing an intense and challenging career. London will offer its best as well; it will be a demanding environment which requires great vibes and initiative.

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Yoav joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2014. He is currently taking a year out for practical training.

Prior to commencing my studies at the AA, I served in the army, and afterwards worked in several jobs. I chose to study at the AA School for its location in London, renowned legacy, history of innovation, and especially to join our unique school community. I started in the First Year and have recently completed Third Year in Intermediate Unit 5.

The AA School is an extraordinary architectural environment unlike any architectural academy I have come across. It is a setting that promotes

the significance of asking questions rather than giving definitive answers. It provides you with the opportunity to develop your architectural identity.

The AA course always allows you to pursue your own interests and develop them towards briefs, projects of personal and intimate architecture. While studying at the AA you are always encouraged to push your ideas to their limit.

London is an amazing city; it is dynamic and celebrates diversity, and an environment that encourages innovative architecture. Specifically, as the AA is situated in Bedford Square in central London, all required facilities are at hand.

The AA School has encouraged me to communicate my agenda and materialise my aspirations to a nearer future. Studying at the AA requires commitment and initiative. Be ready to live and breathe architecture through an environment that is in awe of past architecture, attentive to the present, while trying to shape future architecture.

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Isabel joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in 2015. She is currently in Third Year.

I joined the AA in the First Year, directly from an arts specialized High School back in Porto, Portugal. Although I had completed a summer course to prepare a design portfolio in Parsons, The New School for Design in New York, nothing could possibly prepare me for the uniqueness of the education the AA School has to offer.

Architecture had always been the only subject I wanted to work in, since I couldn’t think of any other field that would merge an artistic thinking with scientific rationality so beautifully.

While choosing which school to apply to, I was seeking a highly engaging and vibrant educational setting that would rely heavily on the conceptual realm of the discipline. The AA School seemed like an excellent option, as the work produced by students is highly diverse, and you are given the freedom to carve your own architectural agenda throughout the course.

I am currently in Third Year, and I must say that the reputation the AA School has, and the amount of connections you get to make while you study here, are the biggest privileges you will be given. An education at the AA is like a roller-coaster, full of hard work but incredible rewards, as you develop your interests and personality immensely.

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Saenawee completed our Architecture and Urbanism (AADRL) MArch programme in 2018. DRL is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

I graduated from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and worked as a professional architect for two and a half years, before I decided to apply for the Architecture and Urbanism MArch (DRL) programme.

My initial interest in the DRL was piqued by my friend who graduated from the programme three years ago. After some research about the school and the programme, I decided to apply because I wanted to stay ahead of the curve of the profession and also to be able to meaningfully influence

the profession in some small part.

The best part of the AA School, and what makes it unique, is its special small size. You meet and get to know a lot of people from different parts of the school, become friends, and exchange thoughts together.

I think the DRL programme provides the opportunity to look forward into our future, and try to design not only the actual building, but also the future of our living environment. The programme helps you find the research that you are really interested in yourself, so that you can continue to research this after completing the programme.

I think if you are interested to explore and be radical about our future, the AA School is the right place for you to explore and try to push forward your own utopia.

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Pui Quan joined the Fourth Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in 2017.

Prior to joining the AA as a Fourth Year student, I completed my Part 1 at the Bartlett School of Architecture. I then spent two years working at London-based firm Hawkins\Brown, on large scale infrastructural project Crossrail and projects in the education sector.

I chose to study architecture because of the way we inhabit and occupy cities and how we solve problems through design. It was only after spending some time in the architectural world did I realise the breadth of the occupation and the many different career pathways that exist.

I chose to change schools for my Part 2 in order to experience a different approach to architecture and I believe the AA is a school that encourages forward thinking and diversity, demonstrated by the wide range of design studios we can choose from. I really liked the structure of the course, particularly the unit based system, and I think it really helps to develop an individual agenda. The complementary studies course is enriching and I have particularly enjoyed the History and Theory seminars and Media Studies.

I started in 2017 and it has been a challenging but enjoyable journey so far; I feel myself being pushed to think and experiment in different ways.

I think one of the best parts of studying at the AA is the many different people you meet and interact with. From the tutors to the students, there is always an interesting conversation to be had! It is a truly global community. The location and facilities are great and they are only a stone’s throw from many museums around London.

The world class teaching, variety of facilities and wide range of themes covered by the design studios are just a few of the reasons why the AA is a great school to study at, especially for a budding architect. I believe that the skills and concepts developed at the AA will stay with you into your professional career, where many of the people you meet and projects you see will provide collaboration and inspiration well into the future.

If you are considering studying at the AA School, I would visit and get involved with many of the public events, there’s always a lecture or exhibition happening in the school that will give you an idea of other things that the school is involved in. I would also visit other schools and see what they’re like, particularly open days, which will give you an idea of the difference between architecture schools. The end of year exhibitions will also give you an idea of the diverse approaches of different architecture schools and the work they produce.

If you’re new to London/UK, it can sometimes seem overwhelming and hectic! Familiarising yourself with the tube is a good start; London is an incredible place that always has a new show or exhibition to see and as a student, there’s always something to do at a reasonable price.

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Martina joined the Fourth Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in 2016. She is currently in Fifth Year.

My initial desire to study architecture stemmed from my interest in the arts and design that surrounded me growing up in New York. Unsure of where in the spectrum of design I wanted to be in, I opted for architecture as I believed it would be a holistic design-based education that would allow me to pursue a wide range of design related fields in the future.

Prior to studying at the AA, I completed my ARB/RIBA Part 1 at the University of Edinburgh. This involved a placement year, where I worked in both New York and Basel. After graduating, I worked at Make Architects in London before commencing my studies in the AA Diploma School.

I chose to study at the AA School for my Part 2 for the freedom in syllabus it offered and for the vastly diverse range of units. Having visited many AA summer exhibition shows, I was attracted by the diversity and creativity of the work exhibited, and also greatly admired the character of the school as a sanctuary within the epicentre of London.

The year-long duration of projects at the Diploma school have allowed me to conduct more thorough investigative research which enables the production of substantial and in depth architectural projects. The School itself exudes a sense of homeliness, not only from the quaint Victorian studios, but also from the sense of familiarity in the corridors and the collaborative nature among peers, a somewhat rare quality in architectural education. Being surrounded by the unconventional and pioneering projects of the AA also makes one aspire to rethink the norm. It looks beyond architecture as just the built environment, but considers it a multi-disciplinary field.

After graduating, I hope to return to work in the field to gain further experience and eventually start my own multi-disciplinary research-based architectural and curatorial practice.

To students considering moving to London, I would assure you that it is a vibrant, international city full of some of the greatest resources, galleries, and likeminded creative professionals in the field.

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Georgios completed the AA Diploma (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in 2011. He re-joined the AA School in 2015 to complete the PhD in Architectural Design programme offered by our Graduate School.

After completing the AA Diploma in 2011, I had the opportunity to work for four years in Belgium and Switzerland across a variety of projects and architectural scales. Simultaneously, I was able to maintain my relation with academia as a post-graduate Studio Master at The Berlage (TU Delft, the Netherlands) where I became particularly interested in dedicating time towards the development of a thesis project.

Feeling the need to deepen my architectural knowledge, while preserving

an active link with practice, I decided to return to the AA School and join its newly formed City/Architecture stream of the PhD in Architectural Design programme. The AA was the only place I could achieve this and continue my collaboration with Dr Pier Vittorio Aureli. I am currently in my second year of the PhD course and the financial aid I receive from the school has been vital.

I can easily argue that the AA School is a fascinating mini-world. It is collaborative, competitive, political and probably one of the most challenging environments to study in. Diversity among the discussions, events, staff and facilities become only a few of its strengths, generating a stimulating context towards the development of original work. To keep a long story short; if you are considering joining the AA School, it is definitely worth it.

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Thomas joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2016. He is currently in Second Year.

Before joining the AA, I studied at Central College Nottingham at an art college. I was also working at Nicolas Tye Architects part time, after working there full time for a year.

I chose the AA School because not only did I want to learn how to be an architect, but I wanted to explore what type of architecture I wanted to do. I wanted to discover a new way to learn and the AA offers just that. Also the reputation of the school is exceptional world-wide.

The student-to-tutor ratio is also one of the best around, if not the best.

The best part of the AA School is how it selects a range of creative people, students and tutors, provides the time, the briefs and the facilities, and then allows them to discuss, design and make... I believe this is what architecture school should be like, and the AA has the same view. The AA isn't about learning how to be an architect, it is about how to find your way of designing, and putting that into architecture.

Architecture is not in the studio - it is outside - and the AA is wonderful at supporting students to see what goes on outside of the lectures. Being in central London has so many benefits. When you are in studio, you don't notice that it is London at all, but the moment you step outside and walk for 10 minutes you are in Covent Garden, or China Town, or Leicester Square. Everything is on your doorstep.

After completing my studies I plan to do missionary work abroad. Alongside this I hope to enter architectural competitions and I believe the AA is the best school to prepare me for this. The AA helps to open doors to different countries due to its incredible reputation.

At the AA School you will be pushed to work harder than you thought you could, you will work more time than you knew you had, but you will meet amazing people, see amazing things and come away with more than just ‘how to be an architect’. We are designed to be creative. My advice is start exploring now, and allow your explorations to lead your designs.

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Emma joined the Fourth Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in 2015. She completed her Fifth Year in 2017.

Before joining the AA School, I studied Part 1 of my architecture degree at the University of Nottingham. I chose to study architecture as I have always been interested in the built environment that we inhabit, and wanted to become an active part in the design of the architectural fabric of cities. I always enjoyed art and design, and so I felt architecture was the best fit for me to pursue those interests, whilst also aiming toward a possible professional qualification and vocational degree.

I chose to study at the AA School as my undergraduate course was mainly

concerned with pragmatic forms of architecture, and I had an eagerness to study in an academic environment that places stronger emphasis on critical thinking and narrative. The year-long nature of the unit agendas in the Diploma School also drew me to the AA, as this produces an engagement to the subject that is very unique to the school.

The best part of studying at the AA is the varied fields of interest that all of the units provide. Each unit has a very different focus, allowing students to engage with many different themes. This breadth of interest, along with the open nature of the school, promotes the cross-over of units where students learn from each other's work.

The teaching staff are from various academic and professional backgrounds, which is great for future career prospects upon graduating, as it's likely that a tutor or lecturer will have useful contacts in your field of interest. As someone who grew up in London, I was also drawn to the idea of studying at the AA in the wider context of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia, with its cluster of museums and architectural institutions.

If you are considering studying at the AA it’s a great idea to come to open days, maybe some lectures, and to have a look around on a normal day to get a feel for what the school is like. At the open days speak to current students to ask them about their experiences with the school and London life.

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Theodora completed our Foundation Course in 2015 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). She is currently in Third Year.

When I was in High School in Italy, I started thinking about studying architecture. After some conversations with my parents, and some individual research, I found out that my father had once been a member of the Architectural Association. I immediately looked at the website and instinctively booked a flight to come for the open day.

Although I had nothing to lose, I also have to admit that I was a bit scared because I had never experienced hands-on art-based education before.

When I arrived at the open day, I realized that the school offers a Foundation Course in arts and architecture. After talking to Saskia Lewis, the course Director, I felt very enthusiastic about this new experience, and decided that I wanted to apply to be part of the international environment of the AA. I am now in the intermediate school and am so happy about my choice.

The AA School is such a unique institution in the world of architecture; it is a cradle for innovative thought and inspiration, and brings together people from many nationalities binding them together through similar interests.

Also, the structure of the school is something that still strikes me now; this institution is so small that you get to know so many people across staff, students and others, and the relationships you develop in this environment makes the AA seem more like a family than normal schools.

My suggestion for students considering applying to architecture at the AA is to come to the school for at least 2-3 days and hang out in the bar, visit an open day, or go to some Public Programme lectures. Students and staff are at open days so you can ask questions and for clarifications. This way you will immediately get an overall view on how the school works.

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Michael completed our Foundation Course in 2015 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). He is currently in Fourth Year.

During my gap year in Beijing I became interested in architecture. It was then that I met a friend who knew someone already studying at the AA School, an institute that I had never heard of.

I started with the Foundation course which, from my point of view, was the most influential year in terms of my education. It really taught me how to think critically and see things from alternative perspectives; and taught me how to draw relationships between subject matters that were far apart.

By the end of the Foundation course, I could see how I had developed as a person and felt prepared to enter First Year at the AA. On that note, I strongly recommend undertaking the Foundation course, which is directed by Saskia Lewis.

One of the privileges of studying at the AA School is that it is an institution that does not push you to become an architect, per se, rather it allows you to form your own field of interests and acts as a framework for you to develop as an individual thinker. This approach is evident in the wide range of unit choices that are provided throughout the Intermediate and Diploma school - which includes units that explore space through the fermentation of vegetables, to other units that speculate through collage and model making.

Currently I am in my Fourth Year and I am very grateful to have studied at the AA School. I want to especially thank my former tutors that have helped me to push my own boundaries and form my way of understanding of not only architecture but far beyond.

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Ema completed our Foundation Course in 2012 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). She is currently in Fifth Year.

I was born and bred in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I finished high school at the age of 18. Shortly after, I applied to study at the AA School, and was accepted into the Foundation course. I was always interested in pursuing a creative profession, but due to the fact that I had no artistic background, decided to attend a number of drawing classes back home. This sparked my passion for our built environment, and because I’ve always entertained the possibility of living abroad, applying to the AA was an obvious choice.

The school's repertoire was, and still remains to this day, unprecedented. It truly is a special place, and even after studying here for the past 6 years, I’ve never seen anything like it. Having gone through Foundation, First year, Intermediate, and now Diploma, I’ve had the opportunity to work along some of the school’s greatest tutors, who truly broadened my horizons and pushed me to pursue my interest in the unusual - which, in my opinion, is one of the things that makes the AA so unique.

One of my favorite things about the AA is the exposure to people from all over the world - when you’re at school, you’re not limited to the unit you choose, or the students you share your studio with. Every chance you get, and whether that’s in the library, the lecture hall, or even the bar, you can have a short tutorial with anyone you please.

The structure of the AA School gives you enough creative freedom when it comes to your studio work, but also teaches you practical skills with its complimentary studies courses. That balance comes in handy when you’re applying for a job, or starting your career once you graduate.

I, for one, will be graduating in June, and hope to find a job in London while still keeping contact with all the people I met at the AA - it will be difficult to leave the place and the people I’ve come to care for so much over the past 6 years.

As for advice to any prospective students: the AA is one of the best architecture schools in the world, and that consequently means you will have to show a lot of dedication and hard work. However, if you decide to join this truly special place, I promise you, you won’t regret it.

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Mikolaj completed our Foundation Course in 2013 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). He is currently in Fourth Year.

I joined the Foundation course in 2012 straight after graduating high school. To my mind it was a great and life-changing experience from the very beginning. My choice of architecture was driven by my interest in design, architecture and drawing.

I chose to study at the AA School because of its teaching program; and the fact that it is one of the best architectural courses in the world, which has influenced the career path of many well-known architects.

Studying at the AA is a very unique experience; due to school’s compact size, it generates a different, family-like feeling between members of the community. I also appreciate the fact that the connection between students and their tutors is less formal than in other universities which, in my opinion, enables better and clearer communication.

What I also find great are the yearly unit trips. Travelling to different locations with tutors, and getting to know them from an architectural point of view, is an exceptional experience. The school’s location in central London is helpful in many ways, mostly because of the walking distance to interesting museums and galleries, as well as various professional material and art shops.

Studying at the AA develops skills and a diverse portfolio, offering future possibility of employment in the best architectural offices all over the world. Due to this, after graduating, I am planning to travel and work as an architect in different locations.

I would strongly recommend applying to the AA; it is a life changing experience, during which you are guaranteed to meet exceptional teachers and students from all over the world, who will influence and develop your skills and knowledge.

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Tané joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2011. She completed her Fifth Year in 2017.

Beginning in First Year straight from A-Levels, I have just finished my Fifth Year in Diploma Unit 10. After learning about the Architectural Association (AA) I immediately became curious to learn what this unique establishment was all about; and chose to study here because of its truly unique approach to architectural study.

Diploma Units 14 and 10, with long-running tutors, architects, and educators Pier Vittorio Aureli and Carlos Villanueva Brandt respectively, really excited me for their political and social agendas, and interests in context-driven

design. Ryan Dillon of Intermediate Unit 5 also has an intriguingly futuristic yet retro approach in which constraints are used as a freeing tool to design through. Studying in these courses further complemented the varied units I’ve studied with during my time at the AA School.

Amidst the many varied and imaginative projects within the AA School runs a gentle social agenda, with inspirations from many past students. My interests in these issues were given room to be explored over my course at the AA School, uniquely within such a creative environment.

Studies at the AA School allow you the freedom to explore your own interests with guidance from experienced tutors. It thrives on independent learning, which proved a steep learning curve for me during my First Year, but provided me with the strength and skills to be more confident, and to take ownership of my projects during discussions with tutors. Another great quality of studying at the AA is actually studying at the AA! The Bedford Square premises are just beautiful to enter each day, and I’ll be sure to visit the terrace even after I graduate.

Central London is messy and frustratingly busy, making it a fantastically electric city to study in. Be sure to venture out of Zone 1 – the city can be endlessly explored! Advice snippets: 1) Getting in to a unit that wasn’t your first choice can often be the best possible outcome. 2) For those joining after First Year, I recommend just jumping straight in and exploring everyone and everywhere – everyone’s friendly! 3) For international students – a those who barge you on busy Oxford Street near Bedford Square mean no harm – it’s the beautiful rush of London!

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Sandra joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in 2012. She is currently in Fifth Year.

I joined the AA in 2012 as a First Year student, following a Foundation Diploma at Central Saint Martins. I had always intended to study architecture and the relationships between people, spaces and objects. I chose the AA School because it provides the capacity to think differently in design, technical and written projects, extending beyond the scope I had previously experienced. I was awarded an AA scholarship which, together with assistance from a student loans company, enabled me to attend the university. I have found the school to be incredibly supportive of those from different financial backgrounds throughout my education.

The most important gift the AA School provides its students is one of inspiration and opportunity, evidenced by the variety of courses and units available. As a school specialising in architecture, inspiration covers every wall during weekly events, is shared through conversation, accessed in the extensive library, famous archive or bustling workshop – all located within a central London location in the historic Bedford Square.

Throughout my time at the AA I have been encouraged to explore ideas through writing, model making, drawing, and presenting; each ability emphasised with equal importance and shared through regular tutor contact. I believe attending the Architectural Association has provided me with an advantageous position in furthering my architectural career. I intend to use the skills obtained to continue making my own opportunities upon graduation.

At the AA, students are encouraged to participate in the overall life of the university through interaction with various committees and programmes. As a school that prides itself as a transparent, student-led institution, my advice to those interested in joining the Architectural Association would be to view the school itself as a project, and as an enjoyable opportunity to contribute to its dynamic, global community.

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Souraya joined our Spatial Performance & Design MFA (AAIS) programme in 2016. AAIS is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

I am currently a student of the AA Interprofessional Studio (AAIS) programme. I have found the AA School to be a mixed environment that embraces creative cultural exchange. Throughout the year, I’ve had the chance to work with diverse groups of designers and instructors from different fields. For a “Spatial Performance and Design” graduate student, this mixture has taught me a lot about how different cultures define and react towards performance and design.I enrolled at the AA School to learn more about myself too. Being part of such a programme is my chance to

attain the image and the creativity of the artist I want to be. Technically, I’ve had the chance to enhance a lot of my programming skills and invest the outcomes creatively.

There is plenty of room for creativity and experimenting throughout the thinking process. The AA School, like London, is a busy learning experience; that is challenging my comfort zone and pushing my boundaries to position myself into a more confident role in my future.

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Alessandro completed our Foundation Course in 2012 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). He is currently in Fifth Year.

I grew up in Milan, Italy, where I completed my education in public schools before moving to London. I've always been quite passionate about architecture, but was not too satisfied with the technical approach used in many universities in Italy, so I chose to apply to the AA School. I only found out about it during my last year of high school, but I was immediately fascinated by its reputation as an experimental and international institution.

I started in the AA Foundation Course, where I was first introduced to

a very particular way of thinking, which was completely different to what I was used to. Rather than relying on textbooks, I learned to find my own sources of information, and think laterally to find solutions to develop specific projects.

Throughout my years at the AA, I have sharpened and refined this way of thinking thanks to the experience of many tutors, who helped me to understand and work within the multifaceted nature of architecture.

I think that AA School is a unique place to study because of the variety of inputs that students are exposed to on a daily basis. This variety allows every student to discover which sides of the discipline they are mostly interested in, therefore opening up many different routes for their future after graduation.

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Quentin completed our Foundation Course in 2016 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). He is currently in Second Year.

When deciding on where to study after A Levels, I looked at many architecture schools and universities. What differed between the AA School and other universities, and what essentially made it so attractive, was the great sense of how personable the school was. From a high tutor-to-student ratio, to an immensely wide variety of work produced in all mediums, I was immediately drawn into the school.

I began my studies in the AA Foundation Course, which really

looks into exposing their students to a very broad range of mediums. Foundation doesn't only look at primarily architectural subjects, and can prepare you for a much greater possibility of occupations from photography and film-making to set design and millinery.

Foundation really kick-started the beginning of my studies in architecture, as it made obvious to me how differently one can think about subject matters, architectural or not. As I moved through to First Year, I am being continuously brought into the light of various methods of working and communicating with others, be it through group or individual work.

The AA is a very intimate school of architecture, with studio spaces and offices fitting around each other like Tetris blocks; it is impossible not to be integrated and fully immersed in the operations of the school and AA individuals. Moreover, being in London allows you to be constantly immersed in a continuously changing urban environment with much fascinating architecture surrounding you.

If you are looking to study architecture in an explorative and diverse manner, which is unique to the school, then the AA is certainly a major consideration. The key is not to be afraid to try out new things and really take pride in what you believe. So far, studying at the AA School has enabled me to understand that architecture provides you with the abilities to go on to do much more than just architecture.

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Craig joined the Fourth Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2016. He is currently in Fifth Year.

Before joining the AA Diploma School, I worked for an architectural practice for two years here in London. Prior to that, I spent most of my time in Southern Africa, and the opportunity to live and work somewhere different was exciting.

The unit system at the AA gives a broad spectrum of research fields at Diploma School level; meaning one can either come with a very specific agenda, or open themselves up to something completely different.

I was drawn to the school, initially, by the work of Diploma 14 and Diploma 2.

The best part of being here so far is the intimate learning environment and the extensive facilities which we have access to. Central London provides a unique setting; expanding the thriving and diverse nature of the school out into the city. Being at the AA has helped me to hone in on my career aspirations, and I would like to work towards running my own practice in the future.

The AA School provides students with a creative platform to develop their architectural intentions; made specific by their choice of unit as well as supplementary theory and technical courses. For students moving to London for the first time, you won’t be disappointed as it has so much to offer.

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Ricardo joined our Architecture and Urban Design (Projective Cities) MPhil programme in 2016. Projective Cities is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

The AA has always been a reference in my education long before I decided to study here. It offers a powerful academia that makes it a world leading platform, which is always in contemporary relevance to the architectural world today.

Before joining the AA School, I worked in renowned architectural offices in Mexico City, Copenhagen and New York; these international experiences induced me to further my studies at AA in the Projective Cities programme.

The course’s multidisciplinary approach has led me to gain a broader understanding of architecture through its history and theory; encountering significant cultural debates with political, economic and technological dimensions that have redirected my obligation as an architect

The AA School provides an unparalleled variety of graduate and postgraduate architectural and urban design programmes. Its multicultural and international diversity, both demographic and pedagogical, makes it a unique place unlike any other school in the world today. In addition, London as a city offers a wide number of institutions, museums, art galleries and schools that together reinforce the culture of knowledge. This is undoubtedly part of the studies and is something to take as an opportunity.

I would encourage anyone who is looking to engage with the extraordinary pool of talent that the school possesses in a worldwide domain to join the AA. Everyone in the school, from the staff to the students, is extremely friendly and helpful.

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Camille joined the Second Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2017.

After completing a higher education Literature Preparatory Class in Paris called Hypokhâgne – where you learn philosophy, literature, history and languages – I decided to add imagination and creativity to my future by starting my architecture studies. What I found most attractive about architecture was the possibility of crystallising my ideas, of giving them a reality and inserting them into the world.

I did two years of architecture at the National Architecture School at Versailles (ENSAV).

One of my French tutors told me that the AA School would be more adapted to my way of thinking about architecture, which is why I chose to apply.

I have to say that the AA School is clearly different than all the courses I had experienced before. It is the perfect mixture of creativity, thinking and experimentation. Your relationship with the tutors is not basic and hierarchic, you discuss with them all the time. It is more about improving architecture than learning a specific way of seeing architecture. At the AA you will see people having discussions in every corner – this school is in constant ferment.

The fact that the AA is a school and not a university also allows students to have a major part in the life of the AA. Moreover, people come from all over the world which creates a rich environment. The system of the units permits you to choose what you really want to work on during each year.

I would advise students to be passionate about architecture in their portfolio, to show in which ways they are different from the others. Do not be scared of presenting something other than architectural projects like, for example, drawings, texts or even films. London is a great European city, you will always learn from it! Good luck!

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Jake joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2014. He is currently taking a year out for practical training.

The AA School is demanding, challenging and unpredictable but above all it is incredibly rewarding. I have recently completed my third year; and what I think places it well above other architecture schools of its kind is the intimate scale of the school and its ability to attract the most diverse range of talented individuals.

The school hosts a fantastic Public Programme, and the scholarship programme has helped me to afford the tuition fees.

I expect to complete my Diploma and remain involved in the AA as much as possible after I leave.

The AA School has aided me in completing several summer internships at renowned offices in London; and I have become particularly involved in writing through the History and Theory studies programme and through AA conversations. This work combined with my constantly expanding portfolio provides me with immense confidence ahead of my year out.

The extroverted and experimental AA Visiting School programme is something I plan to become more involved with in the future, as it is one of the school’s most fruitful generators of conversations, ideas and opportunities.

I’d certainly recommend applying to the AA School to any eager creative as a successful application can provide the best environment possible to achieve.

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Rakhshaan completed our History and Critical Thinking MA programme in 2017. HCT is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

I was born and brought up in Karachi, Pakistan, where I completed my O and A levels. During that time my focus was more towards arts and social sciences, but I always had an affinity with art and architecture.

After completing high school I went on and studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. During RISD, and before enrolling at the History and Critical Thinking programme at the AA, I had some experience with different architectural firms

teaching me how to become a critical designer. My internships not only taught me technical things like Rhino and model making, but also helped me to develop ideas and ways of thinking in the design field. I worked for Byorsky and Murphy in London, and Coalesce which is a design studio in Karachi.

During my thesis year at RISD I came across my love for reading and writing about architecture; that was the beginning of my search for good graduate programs that could cater to that. After extensive research I decided to apply to the AA. After receiving offers, the decision to come to the AA School was an easy one; the AA is one of the world’s best architecture schools, and I could see myself settling in well.

The MA in History and Critical Thinking (HCT) not only equips one to engage more in the art of writing about architecture, but forces one to deal with and challenge ideas of criticality in architecture and the design world.

My current focus lies in the inter-relation between design and culture, and how they interact with one another to create a spatially informed synthesis. But I also love to paint and read history books. I am also interested in the role history plays within culture, and how architecture can help to inform one of their history and possibly, their future. After pursuing this degree, I aim to go into the education field back home.

Living in London is a great thing. You get to experience and be part of a lot of exhibitions, and are introduced to the world outside architecture as well.

If you are planning to come to the AA School for the HCT programme, make sure you are prepared for a lot of reading and writing. Even though we are the only programme at the AA which doesn’t design buildings, we still design through writing.

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Jiadong completed the AA Diploma (ARB/RIBA Part 2) in June 2016. In September 2016 he re-joined the AA School to complete MPhil in Media Practices programme offered by our Graduate School.

I chose to join the AA Diploma School straight after graduating with a BA (Hons) Architecture ARB/RIBA Part 1 from The University of Liverpool. I greatly appreciated the fact that I could join the school without Part 1 work experience, and I was well supported when navigating complicated visa issues as a non-European student.

After completing the AA Diploma ARB/RIBA Part 2 in 2016, I felt confident and thus continued my AA study towards the new MPhil in Media Practices.

The AA is a unique and experimental architectural school, which focuses on students’ individuality and their particular architectural research interest. I think the AA is the best place to adapt, change, experiment and investigate your own idea, your own way of thinking, your own way of shaping aesthetic and shaping a way of alternative architectural life, without worrying about bureaucracy and established rules and values.

Studying in central London is as essential as being a young radical; rethinking, questioning and reflecting on every new and constantly changing spectrum of materials and information from art to architecture. I would love to continue my academic career towards the AA PhD which is my plan to really continue my research and study.

I don’t have any common advice for students who are seeking to apply for the AA or about living in London. However, I think the best thing may be that the AA is always being radical, experimental, revolutionary, and might be bit eccentric and different from others.

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Angelica completed our Foundation Course in 2014 and continued our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). She is currently taking a year out for practical training.

I came from an Italian high school which focussed on ancient languages such as Greek and Latin. I had no architectural nor artistic background before applying to the AA School; only a month over the summer in Parsons, The New School of Design, in New York.

I was scared that it might have been a problem applying to the AA with very little background in the architectural/artistic field. It actually wasn’t. I applied for the Foundation Course in 2013, with a portfolio

that included the work I did in New York and some additional drawings. At the interview they were really interested in knowing about my passions and who I was, as well as seeing the work. This is a feature of the AA School, and a characteristic attitude, that I always find very present in this environment.

I’ve recently completed third year and I would say that the best part of studying at the AA is the people, from the tutors to the students, and the sparkling and challenging environment I find when passing AA doors. I find that my own interests, and I as a person, have grown a lot over these years. This is really linked to the method of the school, which always values your opinions and points of view.

My advice for new students is to value the company of other students, and try to work with them as much as you can. And, especially at the beginning, in order for you to have an easier start, try to find a place to stay relatively close to the AA.

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Caspar joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2016. He is currently in Second Year.

Before coming to the AA I finished a Master’s degree in Physics. It was a big step for me to go back to school, but architecture had attracted me for many years. After finally making up my mind I started looking for the right institute. I basically looked for a school that would meet two requirements. First of all, I wanted to join one of the top institutes in the world. Secondly, I did not want to go to a conventional institute.

The AA School is very design-minded and project-based. This school does

not expect you to sit still and study, but rather motivates you to go out, have fun and create. There are 'more traditional' lectures in the evenings, but they are aimed at broadening your creative scope and it is up to you to choose which ones are relevant to join.

To me the most appealing part of the AA School is the freedom it provides in pursuing your passions and interests. On top of that I think the AA is a particularly interesting environment because its students come from an extremely wide range of backgrounds, countries and ages. Its culture is warm and welcoming. And although it educates some of the smartest and most creative people in the world, the atmosphere is not as competitive as you might expect it to be. On the contrary, people are very willing to help and learn from each other.

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Gunveer completed our Sustainable Environmental Design MArch programme in 2018. SED is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

I have been following the activities at the Architectural Association since the first year of my undergraduate study in Delhi. Exposure and intense competition is something that any architecture student thrives on, and that is precisely why I am here.

I am currently completing the MArch in Sustainable Environmental Design (SED). The programme provides a dynamic environment for learning, and the course structure is a combination of

theoretical and practical understanding about sustainable designing.

I feel fortunate enough to be taught by professors whose publications I used to refer to during my undergraduate studies. The reason I applied to this course is that it’s scientific, and focuses on understanding the post occupancy building performance, with the help of simulations and fieldwork.

What makes the AA School special is that every day there are different events going on. Every day there are guest lectures taking place in the school, which helps to expand your knowledge beyond what is being taught in the course. The vast network, and affiliation with various architectural offices and pioneers of the field, makes the school unique.

As an international student, the prospect of staying in London is an experience that is difficult to express. It is easy to get distracted with the number of events happening in the city every day.

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Ao completed our Foundation Course in 2013 and continued to our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2). He is currently in Fourth Year.

Before I moved to the UK, I was a sophomore studying architecture in China. I left my university to come to the AA School. I chose AA because it has an incredibly good reputation in my country and seemed very mysterious, which provoked my curiosity.

From my experience, I think the AA School gives us maximum freedom to choose our own interests in the field of architecture. It provides us with a much wider range of experiences during the studying of

architecture compared to other architecture schools. You may only learn one kind of design whilst studying somewhere else; but at the AA it could be ten or twenty!

Because of our unit system, each unit has unique design theory and method. Instead of a traditional teacher, tutors here are more like your partners, who help and work with you to develop your project. My plan after my graduation is to successfully finish ARB/RIBA Part 3.

For those of you considering starting your college life at the AA School, I would advise you to be prepared for hard work and life changes. And you may have less opportunity for socialising because architectural works are usually time-consuming.

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Paul joined the First Year of our 5-year ARB/RIBA accredited course in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1 and 2) in 2016. He is currently in Second Year.

After graduating from Music Grammar School, I studied one year of philosophy in Vienna before coming to the AA. In its ambition for new ideas, the AA School, I felt, was closest to the educational ideal universities should pursue: education for the sake of it, with the freedom necessary to explore and learn. This drive for innovation is present in the most mundane tasks; maybe it is especially apparent there.

I spent my first year in a wonderfully creative

state of discomfort, taken up in all the work and the limitless opportunities both London and the AA provide. With lectures almost every day, workshops and London's galleries, museums (free entry), concerts, etc.; there's most certainly no lack of inspiration, which can sometimes even be slightly overwhelming.

Being surrounded with intelligent people from all over the world is an incredible source of insight and, to this extent, certainly unique to the AA School.

Even though it's probably not, graduation still seems very far away, so I don't know yet what to do afterwards. In a world where nobody quite knows what's going to happen in five years’ time, let alone fifty, the AA doesn't only consider this uncertainty, it's creating it.

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Jeffrey completed our Architecture and Urbanism (AADRL) MArch programme in 2018. DRL is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

I chose the AA School because of its reputation and the exposure to influential characters in architecture. I am satisfied with my decision so far, continuing my education specifically in the AADRL, due to its dynamic and cross-disciplinary education, its innovative attitude, and the unique core of reputation.

The Architecture & Urbanism MArch graduate programme integrates bold characteristics of progressive architecture, experimental, and

expressive; while maintaining a strong resource of technical knowledge in computation and manufacturing. In other words, this is the place where you experience mind-blowing (sometimes strange) ideas that might seem out of this world. A new language.

The AADRL studio is team-based architectural research that allows students to experiment with cutting-edge computational and manufacturing technologies, assisted by the utmost innovative and prominent studio masters and tutors.

Beyond that, I have the most interesting AADRL peers, coming from various cultural and professional backgrounds, who make the whole experience in the AA School more valuable. It is a really tough programme but it is worth the experience. The programme has helped me to develop a new perspective in the cohabitation of computational machine and architecture.

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Siwat completed our Housing and Urbanism MArch programme in 2018. H&U is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

Prior to joining the AA School I worked in Bangkok, Thailand, for two years as an assistant researcher for my professor at Chulalongkorn University. After reading the course prospectus, the Housing and Urbanism MArch programme seemed the best fit for me when it came to developing my knowledge and critical thinking skills. My main ambition is to utilise these skills to produce creative work focussed on the urban environment, and provide design solutions which address social and political issues within cities.

The best part of studying at the AA School is the opportunity to be among a discursive and intellectual group of people; where I can absorb their arguments and points of view on various issues relating to current and future trends. Being surrounded by a special group of people, working together on knowledge synthesis, in an intimate and cosy learning environment, is what makes the AA different from other schools.

The Housing and Urbanism programme uses London as a case study to understand urbanism, and learn about the fabric of a city. Therefore, studying in the centre of London is great, especially as it is so easy to get around by walking or catching the tube.

Urbanism can be a challenging issue for cities, and the ideas and issues addressed by this course will help me design solutions now and in the future. After graduation I would like to open a supportive architectural and design company in Thailand. However, I am also hoping to find a job in UK for a few years to build my experience.

For me and many Thai students, the cost of living is a major consideration when thinking of studying in the UK. It can be challenging managing your budget and minimum expenses each month. Therefore, my advice would be to carefully research different zones/areas in London, and how much the rent and travel cost in that area will be, before deciding on a place to live.

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Fei completed our Architecture and Urbanism (AADRL) MArch programme in 2018. DRL is one of the post-graduate programmes offered by our Graduate School.

I worked as an architect in Shanghai and Guangzhou for three years before joining the AA School. The first reason that I chose to study at the AA is its reputation; I know that so many great architects, educators and critics either studied here or taught here. Another reason is that my personal interest in architecture requires systematic research methods and cutting-edge techniques, which are much better developed at the AA, especially in the Architecture and Urbanism (DRL) graduate programme.

I really feel excited to study here because the intensive curriculum including workshops, seminars and studio work, gives me very comprehensive training. It not only grants me the skills such as robotic arm fabrication, 3D printing and use of some fancy software, but also teaches me to consider design as a research process. I have to say that working in the team-based studio has re-shaped my understanding of the architectural design process. I really enjoy it!

I think what makes the AA School unique is its spirit of independence and vanguard. I feel that the school is very student-oriented, and I can equally exchange ideas with my tutors. The unique democratic culture of the AA provides me with a very strong sense of belonging.

For me, London is one of the most intriguing cities in the world. Studying in central London gives me many opportunities to experience its cultural diversity. Honestly, after engaging in the DRL programme, I find my career widely broadened. I am still thinking about either continuing my career as an architect, or jumping to other fields such as 3D printing and programming.

For those who are considering the AA School, I would advise you to comply with your real interests in architecture, and feel free to express that in your portfolio. Before moving to London, I also recommend you don’t rent your apartment in a hurry. It is wise to compare many of them because you definitely will find a more satisfactory place.

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Student portraits by Sue Barr, Head of the AA Digital Photo Studio.

Foundation and Experimental, Diploma Admissions

Architectural Association School of Architecture
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+44 (0)20 7887 4007/4067/4094

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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.