Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin
Director of Studies
Girton is itself a lesson in Architecture, with 150 years of building history. The college is an important example of Gothic revivalism, featuring a neo-Tudor gatehouse tower and the ornate Stanley Library. The college buildings expanded over several generations, adding new accommodation around landscaped courtyards. Additions to college in the 1930s are influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, while more recent developments showcase contemporary design and innovative technology. The Duke Library and Archive centre was awarded a prestigious RIBA award in 2005. The new wing at Ash Court, opened in 2013, is a showcase for sustainable design within an historic setting. Girton is an inspiring setting to live and learn architecture.
Girton has a small but energetic community of architecture students. Although few students will have studied architecture before, most quickly become absorbed by the subject. Architecture is a unique, multi-disciplinary subject, and Girton is the perfect setting to encourage interdisciplinary debate across the sciences, humanities and arts. The College library stocks a broad selection of material on art and architecture, from historical and theoretical texts, to manuals about structural engineering, construction processes and environmental design.
The Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge offers a full range of courses validated by the ARB and RIBA (the accreditation authorities for architectural practice in the UK). Architecture has a strong vocational aspect and most students go on to pursue careers within the architectural, design and planning professions. The department has a strong research focus, across architectural history and theory, design practice, and sustainable urbanism. The department hosts numerous research programmes and offers a wealth of post-graduate opportunities.
The BA (Hons) Architecture programme (ARB/RIBA Part 1) is closely informed by the research and practice of the department’s lecturers and design fellows. The degree combines design work with technical training in structures, construction and environmental design. The history and theory of architecture forms an important part of the BA programme in each year and culminates in students writing a dissertation in the final year. Undergraduate teaching is focused around the design studio, and all students have a desk space in the light-filled and award-winning studio building, designed by Mole Architects, at Scroope Terrace. Lectures are held in the department on non-studio days. Supervisions, usually in groups of one to four students, offer in-depth teaching across all aspects of the degree.
It is possible to complete all of your architectural training at Cambridge. The Department of Architecture offers a Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Design (ARB/RIBA Part 2) and the Professional Practice course (ARB/RIBA Part 3). It is also possible to undertake an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies and a research Master’s degree. The Department offers specialist postgraduate degrees, including the MSt in Building History and the MSt in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment, run in collaboration with the Department of Engineering.
The Institute of Continuing Education has recently launched a new Part II Apprenticeship programme in collaboration with the Department of Architecture. Girton Part I graduates are encouraged to consider this postgraduate route to registration.
There is also a flourishing PhD programme that offers the opportunity for in-depth research in many different aspects of architecture and urbanism. Research and postgraduate students are admitted to the University by the Board of Graduate Studies. You must therefore apply centrally and not to the College, however you must be admitted to a College to be able to study at the University. To ensure that your choice of College is Girton you need to indicate this on your application form.
The majority of our graduates go on to pursue a career as an architect or in another design-related field, although alumni have also gone to a variety of other destinations.
Photo credit Sofia Singler