Introducing your Student Rep

Isabella Palliotto

Hi! I'm Isabella - this year's Arcsoc President! I'm the first port of call for most departmental-student contact, and oversee Arcsoc's activities. Right at the heart of the social life of the architecture department is our student run society, Arcsoc! We run weekly life drawing sessions, lectures and panels with some of the most interesting contemporary voices in architecture and design, and massive parties (with costumes of course!). This all works up to our end of year exhibition, showcasing all the amazing work produced by the students of our department - fully curated, designed and built by Arcsoc.

Key Facts

Average offer: A*AA

3 years

Available at all colleges except Hughes Hall and St Catharine's

Key subjects: some colleges require Maths/Physics, or an essay-based subject

Portfolio of work

No info on inclusive prayer space in department:(


Why did you want to study Architecture?


It's hands on, it gets messy, and it provides an experimental freedom that you wouldn't get in many other courses!
The Cambridge architecture course is highly theoretical, which differs from many of the other architecture schools in the country - this is what primarily attracted me to this particular course. The work we produce in Studio is in constant dialogue with what we get taught in lectures; this is what makes the course exciting!

How is the Architecture course structured?


The course is 60% studio work (design), and 40% theory (which in first-year is split into five equally weighted papers: History and Theory courses (pre-1800 and post-1800), Environmental Design, Structural Design, and Construction). We produce a portfolio each term, which is the culmination of the whole term's design work, and this counts towards our final mark. Following a change in assessment style over the COVID lockdown period, there are no longer exams in the third term - these have been replaced by essay and coursework tasks over the Michaelmas and Lent holidays! In Easter we have no lectures, and we solely focus on studio work.

What is the faculty building like?


As the course has expanded in the past couple of years it has meant that first, second, and third years have been split in different studio spaces. Each year get's their own room to share, which is where most of the work is produced (unless you prefer working in your college room of course!). The core of the department however is Scroope terrace, where all of your lectures will take place. This is also where the departmental library is. We have a beautiful extension designed by Sandy Wilson (this is where some of your lectures may take place)!

What is the workload like?


You will find that most of the workload will be studio work, which we have to work on throughout the week. This is all independent work. We have two studio days each week (in first year it is Mondays and Thursdays), which is where your design tutors will review the work you have produced throughout the week. This may include drawings, or models. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you will have lectures in Environmental Design, Construction, Structural Design, and History and Theory. You will most likely have 1-2 supervisions per week. Some courses also might require coursework done during term, which you may also find yourself working on during the week.

What about your course would you change?


This is the first year where all three years will be split in studio spaces! It will be an interesting change from previous years, where all three years have been in one room. A first year might be inspired by a third year's work, but this could be equally true for a third year looking at a first year's work! Ideas travel vertically and this is what makes the course special and exciting. Arcsoc, however, is making active efforts this year to make sure this physical separation doesn't mean ideas and conversations don't happen between years! Students organise socials, club nights, welfare events, and much more, and these are all events that encourage all years to come together and have fun!

Anything else?


First year is truly the year to have fun! Both in the course and outside of it. Work experimentally in first year, use fun materials and share ideas collaboratively — this is how you will develop a sense of how you work best. As first year doesn't count towards your final degree, use it as an avenue to work hands on, use the workshop, and develop your own rhythm. For example, I thought I would really enjoy working on digital media and CAD... turns out I really like model making and drawing by hand. This is something I wouldn't have known if I stuck to my comfort zone. We have a workshop, lots of studio space, and a lot of materials! So feel free to experiment (and don't worry if your work is a bit ugly, that's not really what matters!).

A typical timetable

Isabella's timetable

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Weekend
9am Studio! When you decide to come in to studio completely depends on when your design tutors need to review your work, and how you personally work best. Some people love spending their whole day in Studio, whereas some people work better at home! Both are more than fine. Lecture (Structural Design) Lecture (History pre-1800) Studio! Studio is open throughout the week, and it is truly our own space, so you will find people also working on coursework or supervision readings here) Lecture (Structural Design) Weekends are free! However, this time is usually spent preparing for Studio on Monday, and any other pieces of supervision work you may have.
10am Lecture (History post-1800)
11am   Lecture (Environmental Design) Lecture (History pre-1800)
12pm   Lecture (History post-1800)
2pm Supervision (History)    
3pm     Supervision (Structural Design)


Have more questions? Talk to an academic rep

Academic Reps are the voice of students in faculties, departments and schools. Reps have the power to enact changes to education, individually based on their priorities and collectively, working with other representatives across the University. Their responsibilities include taking students’ ideas and concerns to faculty and department boards, relaying important information from those boards back to students, and organising with their peers to foster a subject community.