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Thread: Getting into planning - Australia

  1. #1
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    Getting into planning - Australia

    Hi Everyone

    I am in a big mess. During the past two years i have completed a diploma in liberal arts degree at Tafe, with one year credit on a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology and Political Science. This year i applied to get into a Bachelor of Architecture degree, and i got in. So i was wondering, should i continue with the Bachelor of Arts degree, and then go with the Masters of Urban Planning, or should i go and do the Bachelor of Architecture (3 years) degree, and then go on and do the Masters degree - which undergrad would be better for industry and academic prospects? At the moment i am tending towards the Bachelor of Architecture degree, and i have only got a matter of days to decide.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AP1 View post
    Hi Everyone

    I am in a big mess. During the past two years i have completed a diploma in liberal arts degree at Tafe, with one year credit on a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology and Political Science. This year i applied to get into a Bachelor of Architecture degree, and i got in. So i was wondering, should i continue with the Bachelor of Arts degree, and then go with the Masters of Urban Planning, or should i go and do the Bachelor of Architecture (3 years) degree, and then go on and do the Masters degree - which undergrad would be better for industry and academic prospects? At the moment i am tending towards the Bachelor of Architecture degree, and i have only got a matter of days to decide.
    I would say that it depends on what you want to do in future.

    If you're into Urban Planning, why not head for a Bachelor of Planning instead? I see that you're from Melbourne (I studied there too), so you could consider RMIT's undergraduate course in Planning. Else if you want to be an architect or be in the design profession, you're better off with Architecture.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the advice. I have no idea what i want to do in the future apart from wanting to base it around architecture and the urban enviroment. I have also sent off an email to the big two, Melbourne Uni and RMIT to see what they have to say. To be honest i was hoping that combining a 2 year Masters with a Bachelor of Architecture would be more lucrative than having a Bachelor of Arts combined with a Masters. I will also check with RMIT to see whether or not i can apply for an irregular offer for the undergrad course in Urban Planning. But i can't avoid thinking, would a BArch with a Masters in Urban Planning be more highly looked upon than a Bachelor in Urban Planning? Also i have the whole 7 year in education after High School as being too long a time Dip= 2 years, BArch = 3 years and Masters = 2 years.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by AP1 View post
    Hi Everyone

    I am in a big mess. During the past two years i have completed a diploma in liberal arts degree at Tafe, with one year credit on a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology and Political Science. This year i applied to get into a Bachelor of Architecture degree, and i got in. So i was wondering, should i continue with the Bachelor of Arts degree, and then go with the Masters of Urban Planning, or should i go and do the Bachelor of Architecture (3 years) degree, and then go on and do the Masters degree - which undergrad would be better for industry and academic prospects? At the moment i am tending towards the Bachelor of Architecture degree, and i have only got a matter of days to decide.
    Welcome to Cyburbia! I don't think there is a right answer to your question. You really need to think about what you want to do with your degree. Having two degrees in the same field (Bachelor and Masters in Urban Planning) is not looked down upon, but if you know you are going to get a masters, it might behoove you to get your undergrad in something that compliments your final goals. If you want to go into real estate, then maybe more finance classes. If you want to go into Urban Design, then maybe more Landscape Architecture classes. You want to go in the policy side of planning, go for more political science type classes.

    Good luck. Glad to have you.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the Welcome and Reply Hink =).
    I have decided to do the Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Urban Planning. It is going to take 5 years all up, so it would be the same amount of time as RMIT's joint Bachelor of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. Hello 40k debt. I was wondering, when i do graduate from the Bachelor of Architecture and Masters of Urban Planning, would i be able to succesfully compete with those who have a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture? What would be the go there?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AP1 View post
    Thanks for the Welcome and Reply Hink =).
    I have decided to do the Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Urban Planning. It is going to take 5 years all up, so it would be the same amount of time as RMIT's joint Bachelor of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. Hello 40k debt. I was wondering, when i do graduate from the Bachelor of Architecture and Masters of Urban Planning, would i be able to succesfully compete with those who have a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture? What would be the go there?
    I understand your frustrations, knowing that there are many routes out there to different career progressions in the built environment.

    First up, I do want to ask: what do you mean when you say that you want to "base it around architecture and the urban environment"? What specific roles do you want to play? Do you want to do design policy? Or do you want to get your hands dirty and design an actual development? Or do you want to fund the development? Or be the one to calculate the strength of the steel beams to hold up the 40-storey apartments? And at what scale do you want to work in? A building? A neighbourhood? A suburb? A city? A state? A country? As you can see, the built environment is not made up by one sole professional; rather, it encompasses a wide variety of professions who come together to make things work.

    I suspect then that the first thing to settle would be to have a clearer idea - at the very least - of what you want to do in future. This you may be able to get a sense of by speaking with course advisors, the career office (UniMelb has a pretty good office whom I've consulted with before), your seniors, tutors who are also trained professionals, and the like. Once you know this, you should be able to find the course that suits you, because different courses train you for different roles.

    My personal take, from the little experience that I've worked in Melbourne, is this. Urban/town planners are either strategic plan makers - stuff like Melbourne 2030 and an activity centre's structure plans and the like - or, more commonly, statutory planners - i.e. people who will assess applications to development or use land in a certain way, using guidelines and policies as their basis. Your roles are more policy and regulatory driven. Unfortunately many of the job ads for planners in Australia are filled with fluffy sentences that tell you little about the actual job scope and roles that planners do, so you may or may not be able to glean information from there. The website of the Planning Institute of Australia may also help.

    The area where I was more interested in was urban design, i.e. design of the public realm, arrangement of land uses and drawing where roads should go, and so forth. In Australia, this is more often than not done by professionals with either a landscape architecture or architecture background, followed with a masters in urban design. Unfortunately, urban planning would only prepare you theoretically for such roles, but the design rigour and skills necessary to really draw/design only comes with either of the design degrees. Some of my peers from urban planning have managed to transit to urban design but I could not in my previous firm, as I did not have the skills required to do such work.

    My sense though is that if you want to do design, stick with the traditional design degrees - an architecture degree allows you to jump into urban design, but not vice versa. It can open up other areas to study for e.g. architectural history and heritage. If you're in UniMelb, this means starting with your Bachelor of Environments with an Architecture major.

    Hope this helps and encourages you on your search. And belated welcome.

  7. #7
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    Thank you very much Josh.
    To be honest i want to be an all rounder. I want to do the policy, as well as the designing. One of the main reasons why i am going to accept the Bachelor of Architecture is it will allow me to become an Architect with a two years masters, and pathways are provided for Urban Planning and Urban Design. One of the worries i have of doing an Urban Design Masters, is that i cannot find any accreditation authority for such occupations and courses, maybe i have not looked around properly. Is accreditation worth chasing? Hopefully, the Diploma of Liberal Arts degree which i have under my belt would be enough to somewhat compensate for a Bachelor of Arts, considering it is a 2 year degree. I got accepted into Deakin, and from what i have heard and experienced is Architecture is extremely competitive to get into, that is another reason why i am going for Architecture; even though the Bachelor of Architecture will not make me an Architect without the masters etc.
    During this year i plan to shadow: Urban Planners; Designers, and Architects to see what i want to do as well.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AP1 View post
    Thank you very much Josh.
    To be honest i want to be an all rounder. I want to do the policy, as well as the designing. One of the main reasons why i am going to accept the Bachelor of Architecture is it will allow me to become an Architect with a two years masters, and pathways are provided for Urban Planning and Urban Design. One of the worries i have of doing an Urban Design Masters, is that i cannot find any accreditation authority for such occupations and courses, maybe i have not looked around properly. Is accreditation worth chasing? Hopefully, the Diploma of Liberal Arts degree which i have under my belt would be enough to somewhat compensate for a Bachelor of Arts, considering it is a 2 year degree. I got accepted into Deakin, and from what i have heard and experienced is Architecture is extremely competitive to get into, that is another reason why i am going for Architecture; even though the Bachelor of Architecture will not make me an Architect without the masters etc.
    During this year i plan to shadow: Urban Planners; Designers, and Architects to see what i want to do as well.
    I see.

    Actually, there is no "licensing" (if that is what you mean) needed for urban planners in Australia. Instead, the PIA administers the Certified Practising Planner scheme, which is not required by law for one to work as a planner. IMHO I do find it not necessary, as it focuses more on soft skills like project management and community consultation rather than the technical aspects of designing places. Most workplaces will also only ask that you have an undergraduate degree or postgraduate diploma.

    You've already mentioned the difference for an architect. But do take note that you need more than a Masters to be a registered architect: to even use the title of "architect" (i.e. to practise as an architect), by law you must be registered with the respective registration boards in Australia, for example, in Victoria, there is the Architects Registration Board of Victoria. To do so requires that you 1. come from an accredited programme which you've mentioned, 2. gain a number of years of experience, and 3. sit for an architecture entry examination. Thus, the journey to be a registered architect is relatively long and takes at least 7-8 years.

    I admire your desire to want to be an all-rounder but I guess you should be aware that there are limitations professionally - for sound reasons I might add - that prohibits us from being everything. So I would say that when you shadow people around this year, go in with your eyes wide open on what the respective professions do and learn about the routes of getting there. Do note that if you're planning to be a registered architect, the next 7-8 years for you are more or less fixed. I would also suggest that you speak with the architect board to find out more details from their end, as I don't have the full information at present.

    Hope this helps.

  9. #9
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    "Actually, there is no "licensing" (if that is what you mean) needed for urban planners in Australia. Instead, the PIA administers the Certified Practising Planner scheme, which is not required by law for one to work as a planner. IMHO I do find it not necessary, as it focuses more on soft skills like project management and community consultation rather than the technical aspects of designing places. Most workplaces will also only ask that you have an undergraduate degree or postgraduate diploma."

    So i can become an Urban Planner or Designer with just an undergraduate degree in Architecture, and not sitting either a Master of Urban Planning or Master of Urban Design?

    Also, i should mention that the reason why i am looking into becoming an Urban Planner or Designer. The reason is due to it being recommended to me as a profession i would highly enjoy, by a previous lecturer/tutor who i hold in high esteem, as well as the good job prospects and stability of the profession from what i have heard; good job prospects and stability which seems to be lacking in Architecture from the gist i have received on Architectural forums and in real life. I also have a bit of trepidation with my age concerning Architecture, become eligible to sit the exams at 28/29; as you said it is a long path for better or worse.

    Concerning Urban Design: http://www.aila.org.au/urbandesign/. That seems to have thrown a couple of spanners in the works.
    Last edited by AP1; 10 Feb 2012 at 10:30 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AP1 View post

    So i can become an Urban Planner or Designer with just an undergraduate degree in Architecture, and not sitting either a Master of Urban Planning or Master of Urban Design?
    Actually you can become an urban planner - as least in Australia - with an undergraduate degree in Planning.

    You may be able to practise as an urban designer with an undergraduate architecture, but perhaps not as a planner. I guess it depends on how sticky employers are with the title of the degree that you hold.

    I've read through what the AILA is proposing and I do think it's a good thing. The only shame is that the AILA has decided to do it independently on the PIA or the Institute of Architects, as UD overlaps over all three areas.

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