The REAL budget needed to study architecture in London

If you are currently applying for an architecture course in London you probably also will be applying for student finance and maintenance loan.

Studying from home may have significantly reduced students spending but we have to take into account the very likely scenario of you having to commute to campus full time very soon.

So how much do you really need to survive studying architecture in central?

Well, there’s a couple of things that will determine your spending. One is whether you will be living in a student accommodation, sharing a flat, living by yourself (woohoo to you!) or staying with your parents.

So presuming you know where you will be living, roughly how much your rent and bills will cost, you also will know how much you will be spending on travel.

In my personal experience even though studio times were twice per week and lectures only one day out of five, most of my studio mates were on campus five days a week. Sometimes even on weekends.

Side note: I would highly suggest not spending weekends in studio, stay healthy, go to sports classes, or do something outside architecture! I talk about why this is important here.

Calculate your minimum travel spending based on the fact that you most likely are going to be spending a lot of time in university. Citymapper is a good investment if you are looking to buy a travel card. They have cheaper rates than TfL and you get a bunch of good deals for Santander cycles and lime e-bikes.

Now to the good bits. Printing.

It is a standard procedure in the studio to print your work for pin-ups. Print for tutorials. Print for crits. Print for a quick chat. Print for site visits. Print for test prints. Print to-see-how-your-lines-are-showing. Print for portfolio submissions. Re-print for final portfolio submissions. Print, print, print.

These are costs taken from FabLab at the University of Westminster currently (may differ for each university but on average the cost is the same). The price ranges depending on the size of the paper, in this case, it’s A3, A2, A1, A0.

120gsm Economy paper — £0.75 – £6.00
160gsm Heavyweight paper — £1.00-£8.00
130gsm Cartridge paper — £1.25 – £10.00 (most popular)

Most of the time though on-campus printers are really busy especially during deadlines so a lot of people turn to external printing services. There are several in London specifically for architecture students that offer good prices. I personally used archi-print throughout my Bachelors and could rely on good and on-time service every time.

Printing quantity may differ depending on the load of work you produce but on average you will be printing anywhere between 3–10 A2 pages per month, and a maximum of 40 pages of A2 or a combination of A2 and A1 for your submission per semester. That already exceeds £100 just for submissions.

In total, you will be looking at around £300 give or take just for paper printing, for the whole year.

Did I talk about laser printing, 3D printing and model making?

If you think you can get away with just software modelling think again. Model making is crucial and required by most, but not all, studios. Most of the materials will possibly be available on campus, if not, then looking at external stores or amazon will be the option for you.

If you are studying in London the 4Dmodelshop near Barbican is where most students buy their material.

My university had all the materials on campus but nevertheless, paint, materials, laser-cut machines, 3D printing machines, glues and such things will be added towards your spending.

Depending on the quality and complexity of your project and how much resources you are willing to put in the price will range between
£20 – £100 per model.

Good ol’ Adobe.

I don’t think I know any architecture student that does not use Adobe, and if you do, please do share alternatives in the comments!

Regardless of the cost of Adobe Suit, the results are there, and if you want your work to look top-notch then it will be something worth investing. Your university should be able to provide Adobe through their own PC’s which will cut out your costs if you work in studio.

The reality is though that you will be working mostly on your laptop or your computer or having this software will come in handy.

The current cost of Adobe Creative Cloud for students is £16.24/month. Multiply 8 months to that (October — May) that’s another £129.92 to add to the sum.

Amongst all the unavoidable things you will spend your money on, here comes the cherry on the top-

✨A Good Laptop✨

This, is a significant purchase and one you will be doing sooner or later because graphics and storage are needed in order to produce good work and download the software you will be using during university.

I wish I can tell you “save your money and work on the university PC’s” but from experience and seeing other people do it, it’s a hassle.

I don’t suggest you buying Macbook for this course, but if you have a PC at home for the heavy stuff maybe you can get away with it. Almost all good programs such as Revit will require a windows operator, or you will come to a situation where Mac is not supporting a software.

I’d say it’s a choice between a good windows laptop or a PC but you’re looking to spend anywhere between £900–£2,000 depending on what you’re going for.

Field Trips

This one is a bit of a controversial topic because you would think because you’re already spending so much money on the course (£9,250 to be precise) that field trips are part of the deal. Well.. they are but they are also not.

I have heard stories of a particular prestigious architecture university, which I shall not name, basing their whole semester brief on a field trip. Meaning students are required to attend and fully pay for a trip otherwise their grades will suffer.

Now, most universities as far as I know do pay the travel fees and cheap hostel accommodation but do expect to have money in your pocket for a trip abroad!

In my opinion, the inclusiveness for different working classes is none existent in architecture courses. Students’ grades shouldn’t be determined by a field trip, period.

That being said, prepare to have an extra £200 give or take for a field trip!

Let’s see what we got-

This is an approximate yearly sum concluded from the list of things I described so far, and it does not even include all the stationery, paints, brushes, rulers, pens etc.

Your number may look higher or lower but regardless, these are real possible numbers you may be needing to spend to study architecture.

Sum per year:

£300 for printing
£20-£100 per model
£129.24 for Adobe Suite
£200 for a field trip
£900–£2,000 for a laptop/PC

That’s a total of :
£1,550 – £2,725 extra on top for rent, bills and food for those looking to start an architecture course in London.

So will you have to apply for a maintenance loan after all?

Most probably. The basic rate for student finance starts at roughly £1,000 (that’s £1,000 every 3 months) which means students will most likely have to work whilst studying in order to support themselves… but not in an architecture office of course because they require 1 year of experience already.

Welcome to London.

Let me know what you think of this blog post. Do comment and share your opinions!

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