RIBA Part 3: The ‘Case Study Project’

What makes an ideal case study project, and how mine was anything but that.

Aditya Vinod Buchinger
Published in
7 min readSep 6, 2021

If you had asked me about a year and a half ago how I planned on preparing for my Part 3, I would have had a completely different answer to what you are about to read here. When I decided to embark on this journey to be a Chartered Architect in the UK, I held onto misinformation and allowed that to take control of my life. However, after visiting RIBA and attending the RIBA Part 3 Open Day at the University of Westminster (UOW) all my worries were rested and I joined them in 2020. Last week I finished the last leg of my Part 3 course with ‘the Orals’, and now I have my Part 1 and 2 prescribed examinations to get through. I have a non-traditional background as compared to a graduate from the UK as I completed my undergrad (Part 1 & 2 equivalent) in India.

Since completing my RIBA Part 3 orals last week, I decided to share my experience and success story! This is a follow-up to my previous article and so I am going to jump right in. Scroll to references to find other articles.

For the Part 3 course at UOW, there are few things that you must bring to the table:

  1. A Case Study Project
  2. 12 to 24 months of recorded work experience in form of PEDR’s — which implies you need a Professional Studies Advisor (PSA) & and a UK/EEA Chartered Architect, or an experienced construction professional as an Employment Mentor (EM)

Part 3 Courses provided by different universities have a difference in their structure and eligibility requirements. If one door closes, do check with other providers. For example, UCL said they would not accept my international projects for Case Study and that it had to be in the UK, while UOW accepted it. I hear AA has a completely different structure for coursework. In the end, the topics are all the same but it's these nuances that you have to work through.

1. The Case Study Project

The case study project is the single most important piece of work in your Part 3. At the end of the course, you must submit an 8,000–10,000 word report by critically analysing and reflecting on your project. There is also a face-to-face interview either in person or digitally at the end of the course where you are probed on your Case Study and PEDRs. Now, this is for Westminster. At AA and UCL the assessment process may be slightly different and I am not certain how that is structured.

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As I understand each university has its own requirements on eligibility criteria. Therefore, I would encourage you to discuss your Case Study and background with the representatives of the Part 3 Course provider of your choice. At Westminster, I took my unconventional project situated outside the UK; unconventional experience as a member of the client’s design team (and not an architectural practice); unconventional Employment Mentor who is a Chartered Civil Engineer (and not a Chartered Architect), and discussed it during the Open Day. I found out that my circumstances were acceptable and joined the course.

1.1 The Ideal Case Study

UOW requires that your project is particularly a building project ideally in the UK, not landscape or bridge design, etc. It can be an interior design or demolition project. It must be to the least partly established on-site even if that is enabling works. It must have gained planning approval, tendered, reached the construction phase with the possible exposure for candidates in mobilisation and post mobilisation phases. But this is not a hard and fast rule and is very project-specific.

1.2 Not so ideal circumstances and How to get around

  • Selecting a good simple project for a Case Study is important. If you have options to choose from, then pick the ‘not so complex’ project such as a residence, or a simple commercial building. But almost always, go with the project that you have hands-on experience in, where you were most involved and gained experience over several stages of the RIBA Plan of Work.
  • Make sure you have access to the entire life cycle of the project starting from the brief, the architect’s appointment, procurement route, the planning application process, tender process, the construction contract, activities at pre-mobilisation, mobilisation and post mobilisation. It’s not always possible for one person to cover all RIBA Plan of Work stages. And that is ok. But you will need to critically analyse and reflect on these areas for your case study report. So it’s important that you have access to information pertaining to all stages.
  • If you currently do not have such a project, you can shadow another project in the practice, provided the practice will allow you access to such information.

In case you cannot meet these criteria, there are other ways to approach your Case Study Report.

  • If your project is situated outside the UK (like mine) — you can write a comparative case study report and discuss how the project would be approached if it were in the UK.
  • If your project hasn’t been established on-site and has only just gone for the planning application, then you can discuss two projects — the first one that covers all stages until planning, & a second that discusses activities post planning application to completion. But try not to select complex projects where you have lots to explain as it can significantly increase your workload and may also confuse your examiners.
  • If you are self-employed, you will need a mentor who has architecture and/or construction experience. Let's say you have a partner who is a UK Chartered Architect or construction professional or a non-chartered but experienced construction sector professional (even members if they are members of the contractor’s team, consultants, etc.) and are willing to mentor you. First, you must check with a course provider if they will accept your application under these circumstances. In London, check with the University of Westminster, or the RIBA as Part 3 course providers.

In a gist, the important thing to remember is that there are ways to get around legitimately. Most Part 3 providers understand that relevant architectural experience can be attained from a wide spectrum of areas in the industry. If you have such unconventional circumstances, approach different course providers as eligibility criteria differ between them.

1.3 Structure of Case Study Project

At Westminster, the Case study report is divided into 4 parts:

  • Part 1: Project Particulars — discusses your project, stakeholders, the formal and informal structure of practice, your role in the project, the clients, design and construction team, architect’s appointment, etc.
  • Part 2: The Regulatory Framework — for the UK project describe the regulatory framework within which the project sits; for outside the UK project, describe the country-specific framework and compare with UK’s regulatory framework.
  • Part 3: Procurement — discuss the selected procurement route, selected contract, best practices and deviation from good practice, tender process, post-tender assessment, mobilisation phase, etc.
  • Part 4: Post Mobilisation — the role of contract administrator, determinations in contract, architect’s role, any project-specific contractual events such as claims, delays and change requests, variations, force majeure, discuss how valuations are handled, quality control procedures, and dispute resolution methods identified in the contract.

This is an overview of what areas will be looked into in the case study. During the course of Part 3, these are discussed in detail in the taught modules. For instance, at UOW there are two modules — ‘English Law, Regulations, Construction Procurement and Contracts’, and ‘Architectural Practice Management’. The other two modules are ‘Professional Development’ relating to PEDR, and ‘Case Study’.

2. Professional Experience Development Record (PEDR)

24 months of PEDR recording professional practical experience is a mandatory requirement to register with ARB. Let’s say you have about 12 months of professional experience behind you from a UK practice or a UK company in the construction sector (builders, developers, contractors, etc) while on an architectural role, then you can record the next 12 months while on Westminster’s 12-month RIBA Part 3 course. There are several scenarios where one is working abroad, resident elsewhere, working in the EU, and so on, to which I am afraid I do not have the answers. It all boils down to your personal circumstance and you must rely on the notice from RIBA and ARB on what is considered adequate.

2.1 Who can be your PSA:

  • While on the course, your PSA is provided by the Part 3 Course provider.
  • Outside of that, you can use the paid RIBA PEDR Monitoring Service
  • Read this article by RIBA on PEDR

2.2 Who can be your EM:

I am happy to see such a positive response from many students and professionals on my previous article recommending a pathway to RIBA/ARB Chartered Architect for a non-UK qualified person. Thank you for that. I wish you all good luck!

Further Reading



Aditya Vinod Buchinger

Architect | Climate actionist | Editor of Architectonics — a publication and knowledge sharing group opening up on sustainability in built environment