Architecture combines the intellectual challenges of both arts and sciences with the opportunity for creative design. Being an architect at St John’s requires a creative mindset as well as strong academic and artistic ability.

The course is principally taught through design studios delivered by practising architects, developing a wide range of your skills in drawing, rendering, model-making, computer-aided design and research. Unique amongst other architecture courses, studiowork at Cambridge is balanced by papers in history and philosophy, and technical design. An architectural education at Cambridge carries Part I exemption from the UK Architect Registration Board for those intending to qualify as practising Architect, and also enables careers as varied as design journalism, urban planning and landscape design, and consultancy. Architecture is a growing subject at St John’s – taking up to 8 undergraduates each year. We have a passionate and thriving community of architecture students at both undergraduate and graduate levels, who also run the College Architecture Society.

St John’s provides its architects with a wide range of resources, support and opportunities to thrive in all aspects of their lives. To foster creativity and community, our architects have exclusive access to a well-equipped, co-working Art Room, as well as opportunities to design and build in the College, and win annual prizes for academic and artistic merit. A number of on-site staff support student wellbeing, including a Tutor to help resolve personal matters, nurses and a counsellor. Students are offered guaranteed accommodation – equipped with a drawing board – for the duration of their studies. Students can access a number of generous allowances and grants, such as a needs-based living grants, learning and research fund to cover costs of course-related items (ranging from materials to a computer), travel grants to support architectural research visits globally during your studies, funded Spring and Summer exchange programmes, and funded University language courses. St John’s offers a beautiful environment in the heart of Cambridge, a five-minute bike ride or a 15-minute walk from the Department of Architecture.

A short introduction to Architecture at St John's College from Dr Darshil Shah.

Entry Details

UCAS Code: K100

Typical Minimum Entry Requirements 

A Level: A*AA

International Baccalaureate: 42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Essential Subjects: None

Desirable Subjects: We strongly encourage applicants to study Art, Mathematics or Physics at A-level or IB Higher Level. 

Submitted Work: All applicants invited for interview are required to submit a portfolio and sketchbooks of their own original recent artistic work.  We want to see a range of subject matter that illustrates your personal interests, experience, imagination, and ability in the visual and material arts; it does not have to be 'architectural'.  We are keen to see your informal and preparatory work, as well as more formal work, so we can better understand how you observe the world around you, and test and develop ideas.  We strongly encourage including drawings from life.  We do not want to see professional architectural work (such as plans and sections).  Original drawings and paintings usually form the basis of portfolios, but work can be in any media; large physical models and sculptures can be shown in a series of photographs. You will need to submit a 6-page PDF sample of your artwork prior to your interview. Full information here

Admissions Assessment (Cambridge College registered): All applicants invited for interview are required to take two University assessments each lasting about 30 minutes: an essay response to a specified question, and a sketching assignment.  Neither assessment requires any preparation in a specific topic. More information can be found on the University’s At-Interview Assessment page

What we look for in prospective students

We are seeking creative, highly motivated and committed individuals with outstanding artistic ability, a strong three-dimensional sense, excellent writing skills, and a solid grounding in mathematics or physics.    

Admissions Interviews

Further information regarding interview dates and arrangements can be found here.


Director of Studies
Dr Darshil Shah 

Dr Darshil U. Shah


Architecture Fellow
Dr Sofia Singler 

History of Architecture Fellows
Professor Deborah Howard

Professor Deborah Howard
Dr Frank Salmon

Dr Frank Salmon

Student Views

(Graduated 2017. 2017-18 David Chipperfield Architects, London. Currently studying for a Masters in Robotics at Imperial College, London)

Studying architecture at Cambridge was an exciting and enriching experience in many ways. St John’s College helped me make the most of my time during my degree, both academically and socially. The range of opportunities that the College offers as well as the extent of student support is very impressive. With the help of these efforts, I was lucky enough to gain access to useful resources, travel to a range of cities and develop my portfolio without having to worry about the course related expenses. The wide range of extracurricular activities helped strengthen the College community and it allowed me build a large network of inspiring friends from the most diverse range of backgrounds. I believe the College enabled an excellent preparation for working life and personal development equally, for which I am grateful.

(IB-equivalent subjects: History, Physics, Maths, English Language, Hungarian Literature, Hungarian Literature)

(Graduated 2016. 2016-17 Parti Architecture, Shanghai and London. Currently studying for a Masters in Architecture at Yale University)

Studying architecture in the supportive environment at St. John’s was a privilege. In addition to providing extra funding for course materials (drawing boards, books and model-making materials), the College helped me pursue my interests beyond the course by offering generous travel bursaries and sponsoring my undergraduate research project one summer. The College community was both diverse and inclusive: I lived with people studying other subjects throughout my time at St. John’s and was constantly exposed to new ways of thinking. By studying at St. John’s, I not only received an excellent architectural education but I also broadened my cultural perceptions and was able to make the most of my time at Cambridge.

(A-Level subjects: Art, Art History, English, Maths)

(Graduated 2018. Currently working at FARM Architect, Singapore)  

As someone who is equally interested in the sciences, humanities and arts, I enjoy being able to develop my knowledge and skills in a variety of different subject areas, which is something the Architecture Tripos at Cambridge does perfectly.  Between studio projects, field trips, supervisions and lectures, there is never an opportunity for boredom and the small cohort of about 40 students means that the whole year becomes very well acquainted and will probably become some of your closest friends!

I could not have chosen a better college for this subject. It is, in my albeit biased opinion, one of the most beautiful colleges in Cambridge and an inspiring place to live and work – from the grandiose atmosphere of New Court, to the stunning example of 1960s British Modernism of the Cripps Building. Students of John’s also have access to various Learning and Research funds, which are incredibly generous and useful when it comes to purchasing materials for studio work.  Drawing boards are also provided on loan by the college during the academic year, which not only helps financially but also reduces the need to move it in and out of your room at the end of each year, which as an international student, is very much appreciated. The teaching and support system in College and the Department is excellent and the regular supervisions and tutorials are the perfect way to consolidate everything that is taught in lectures. Regular meetings with your Director of Studies and your Tutor also give you the opportunity to talk about any problems you might have, either personal or academic. St John’s College library is also accessible 24/7 (which has proven very useful before coursework deadlines), and has a great selection of books on architecture.  Overall, I have had an incredible experience and would very much encourage anyone who is thinking of applying to choose St John’s.

(IB subjects: Art & Design, English Language & Literature, French, Geography, Maths)

(Graduated 2014. 2014-16 Herzog & de Meuron, Basel. Currently studying for a Masters in Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design)

I chose to study Architecture because I was fascinated by the fusion of artistic and analytic aspects which allowed me to study a broad range of stimulating subtopics. Shaping and reflecting on not only the way we live but also on our cultures and identities, architecture can really have a profound impact on us which has been significant to me while growing up in various countries around the world. The architectural discourse is a universal one and that is a feature which I still think forms part of the great allure of the subject.

The course at Cambridge, while probably taking a more academic approach than some other schools of architecture, definitely encourages great creativity in its students and it is this balance I liked when applying here. Each college generally takes between one and three students for architecture and it is this small numbers which creates a strong sense of 'community' within the course and allows for more individual attention.

The benefits of applying to St. John's include the College's amazing support system for architecture students (with supervisions, tutorials etc), coupled with excellent facilities (such as the provision of drawing boards every year, a fund for material costs, etc.). Apart from providing a first class education, the College also attracts a wonderfully diverse range of students from all over the world, which makes settling into university life or even a foreign country much easier. St. John's has numerous societies, sports facilities and events to brighten up your days. The beautiful grounds (formed from a variety of inspiring architectural styles) are an added bonus and are located right in the heart of the city which makes it easy to get to other places.

(IB subjects: Economics, English, Maths, Physics, Spanish, Visual Arts)

(Graduated 2016. 2016-17 Masters in Real Estate, University of Cambridge. Currently Founder and Director of Hinterland House, London)

Studying architecture at St. John’s was a very rewarding experience. The College went out of its way to help me get the most out of my degree - it offered huge amounts of support; personal, academic and financial, which allowed me to travel extensively and broaden my interests even further. There were opportunities to meet lots of different people from diverse backgrounds, both in terms of the extensive and impressive alumni network and more generally - I found it truly exciting to live and learn in such a large, buzzing community.

(IB-equivalent subjects: Art & Design, Biology, English, French, German, Geography, History, Maths, Music, Physics)

(Graduated 2018.  Currently studying for a Masters in Real Estate, University of Cambridge)

Without a doubt, my experience in Cambridge and St John’s far exceeded my expectations. The course is intellectually and creatively stimulating, as it encompasses a broad range of subject scopes, from architectural design, building engineering, urban planning, architectural history, environmental sustainability, to management, practice, and law. You will be able to acquire a diverse range of hard and soft skills, such as time management and effective team working.

Architecture is a truly rewarding degree and it can offer you tremendous career opportunities. Whether you are an aspiring architect, historian, urban planner or even a real estate developer, you will be delightfully surprised in this discipline.  Applying to John’s is one of the best choices you can make in your life, and I believe no Johnian architect would claim this to be an overstatement. 

(IB subjects: Chemistry, Chinese Language, English Language, Maths, Physics, Psychology)