A Professional Studies Advisor comes hand-in-hand with the logging of your Professional Experience and Development Record (PEDR) sheets. If you’re planning to qualify as an Architect with RIBA, you will definitely need one.
Who needs a Professional Studies Advisor?
In short: If you’re working towards qualifying as a RIBA architect, you will need a Professional Studies Advisor. This is for those in UK and other countries like Hong Kong who follow the RIBA education system.
After completing your Part 2 architecture course, you will likely consider the next steps towards becoming an architect. Some graduates work a couple of years before applying for a Part 3 course to be qualified as a professional architect. Some choose to remain as an architectural assistant or architectural designer. In such cases, these people work in companies or studios where they can rely on their senior colleagues to carry the responsibility and sign off projects.
When you do decide to embark on your receiving your Part 3 qualification, it is part of the requirement set by RIBA that architects in training need to “complete a minimum of 24 months professional practical experience, alongside gaining the typical Parts 1, 2 and 3 qualifications.” Within that minimum of 24 months, you are required to log your learning on the RIBA Professional Experience and Development Record (we have a downloadable example what a PEDR looks like here) every three months of your work placement. This is where your Professional Studies Advisor comes into the picture.
If you are inbetween a Part 1 and Part 2 architecture course and would like to qualify as a registered architect eventually, it is recommended that you start logging your PEDRs and request for a PSA.
What is the role of the Professional Studies Advisor (PSA)?
In short: A mentor outside your place of employment who signs off your PEDR sheets
In an ideal scenario, your PSA is a mentor who is active on the journey with you through your work placement. Someone who can give advice and set goals with you. In a less ideal scenario, a PSA is someone who simply signs and approves your PEDR sheets so that you can embark on your Part 3 course. Whether the PSA takes a more active or passive role, you will have some form of mentorship with them – through their comments on the PEDR sheets or through conversations you have with each other.
Worried you might be assigned to a passive PSA? Not to worry, the RIBA PEDR system is set up so that you have various levels of mentorship. When you start committing to logging your PEDRs, you are required to have an Employment Mentor – a registered architect in the company that you are working for who can mentor you and provide appraisal on your progress.
Who can be my Professional Studies Advisor (PSA)?
In short: Someone assigned to you by your course provider or the RIBA
Professional Studies Advisors are usually assigned from the educational institution that you graduated from as a Part 1 or Part 2. You can request from the institution that you graduated most recently. For example, if you graduated from the Unversity of Cardiff as a Part 1 and graduated from London Met as a Part 2, you can request a PSA from London Met. The cost of being assigned a PSA differs amongst institutions so be sure to consider these costs before you choose your education course/path.
Most PEDR/PSA services are only for graduates from that particular institution. However, some universites like University of Westminster and The Bartlett provide PEDR and PSA support via their Stage 1 (Year Out) and Stage 2 (Post Part 2) courses. This is open to any Part 1 or Part 2 graduate from recognised university.
If you cannot request a PSA for some reason or do not want to, there is an alternative service by RIBA that assigns you to an independent PSA. This is known as the PEDR monitoring service.
How do the costs vary among schools?
In short: It varies widely.
RIBA – Open to all
Monitoring service: £200 + VAT (£240)
Architectural Association – Only for AA graduates
PSA supervision: £300 plus £60 AA membership fee
University of Cambridge – Open to Cambridge graduates
Cambridge Professional Studies Advisor: £30 per year
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) – Open to all
Events four late afternoon/early evening recall events throughout the year. There is an optional mid-September meeting to return essays and sign off any outstanding PEDRs. Students will have one-to-one tutorials at The Bartlett with the Professional Studies Advisor to review their progress.
University of Westminster – Open to all
Part 1 (Year Out) and Post-Part 2 courses: £270
This course consists of evening sessions held at the University of Westminster and continued PEDR support from a PSA for the full academic year.
University of Bath – Open to Bath graduates only
The year of professional experience is embedded in the second and third years of a four year course. It seems that the costs of your PSA comes with your tuition fees.
University of Reading – Open to Reading graduates only
This Professional Studies Advisor service is available to Part 1 graduates from the University of Reading
University of Sheffield – Open to all
For Stage 1 graduates: this covers a period of up to two years. For Stage 2 graduates, this covers a period of one year, or 4 quarterly PEDR sheets.
Our recommendation: University of Westminster
In short: A slightly more affordable option that offers continuing education support through lectures and seminars
While this course costs £270, it promises a multitude lectures by industry members to share and teach profession and industry related knowledge. This could supplement your Part 3 course in the future so that you ease into that final course better. Work can often be draining and lack knowledge growth, so this course could balance your progress with some important concepts. They offer lectures such as “types of building procurement routes explained” or “understanding planning, conservation and building control”. These are things you might not necessarily touch in your work placement.
It may be a useful platform to understand the wide practices in the practice as you speak to other students and invited lecturers. With Covid-19 now, they have moved their course online, this means that you do not necessary have to be residing in London to attend this course (please check before applying!)