The Bartlett


Questions I Receive as a Bartlett Unibuddy

by Jasmine Shek

Over the past month, I have worked as a first-year Bartlett Unibuddy, where I answer questions from prospective students who are interested in applying to the school based on my experiences thus far. Whether it's about UCL student life or architecture course modules, I receive a wide range of questions — and yet, a few seem to be asked repeatedly across multiple conversations.  


When it comes to architecture applications, students are naturally most concerned with the portfolio.  

'Do I need to submit a portfolio?', 'When do I submit it?', 'What should I include in it?' are among the most common questions I get as a Unibuddy, and understandably so, as these were also some of the biggest questions I had as a Bartlett applicant.  

Whether you need to submit a portfolio fully depends on the stage you reach in the Bartlett application process. Students begin their applications to the BSc or MSci architecture course by sending in their personal statement, (predicted) grades and references via UCAS, as every other applicant in any other subject does. If their initial application meets UCL’s requirements, the Bartlett admissions faculty will send them a request for an individual assessment task which they will have 1-2 weeks to complete and email back for review.  

Students doing arts and crafts on desk

The task’s prompt and theme are modified each year - my task (2021) required me to construct a short story in response to a journey I take in my everyday life using different media and modes of creative representation (e.g. a series of frames/sketches of a storyboard, a comic book, or an actual film). On UCL’s website, the stage is described as follows: ‘you will be invited to submit an assessment task, responding to a brief. The brief for this task changes every year, and we’re looking for a quick, creative and spontaneous response.’ If the admissions tutors are interested in your task, they will seek to find out more about you and your work by inviting you to an interview. Here is where you will need to submit a portfolio, which will be requested from you prior to the interview, such that your interviewer will have the time to look through your work and ask relevant questions when you have the chat.  

Whilst the requirements can change, I, along with the applicants from my cohort, were asked to send our interviewers a "low resolution" PDF portfolio of no more than 10 pages of our most important work. With regard to what you should include in your portfolio, the drop-down answers in the ‘Portfolio FAQ’ section of this webpage provides clear and helpful guidance. As a Bartlett applicant, I referred to the page very often and whenever I felt lost or stuck during any part of the process. This official Bartlett webpage helped clarify many things and guided me extremely well. I hope it will provide the same support and guidance to you as it did for me.  

It is vital to remember that everyone's application submissions and experiences are vastly different. What goes well for others may not go well for me. What I included in my portfolio was not what they included in theirs. What I gave for an answer during the interview was not what they gave in theirs. You get the gist. Do not feel the need to follow in others’ footsteps with the assessment task or portfolio, and never let university decisions become your be-all-end-all.  

Students working on computer
How intense is architecture at UCL?

This next question often follows: 'How intense is architecture at UCL really?'  

Truth be told, architecture is undoubtedly one of the most challenging courses available at university. With regards to UCL's architecture courses, and from my own experience, they are demanding and intense with a heavy workload — how much work you do, along with the amount of time you commit to the course is however completely up to you! It comes down to your personal work ethic, drive and motivation.  

I won’t lie and say that good time management is the key to success because truthfully, it hasn't been for me. Even when I complete my set schedule of course work and tasks, I still find myself occupied with architecture-related ideas and thoughts constantly. There is no end to the work as such. Architecture is definitely a 25/8 kind of thing — you never really get a break from thinking or creating things.  

Personally, I love keeping my mind going all the time because that’s just how it is for me but I definitely burn out and reach creative blocks if I don’t allow myself to rest.  

Given sufficient breaks (I am forever thankful for reading weeks), I strongly believe that architecture is a great choice of study owed primarily to its interdisciplinary nature. You get a bit of art, and a bit of science, along with a bit of humanities - which I find is brilliant.  

The MSci architecture course I am currently on is definitely a worthwhile course to take, as I feel like I have grown a lot and learnt so much over the past year I’ve been here. It has challenged me to no end, and I'm definitely getting my money's worth.  

About the author

Jasmine is a first-year MSci Architecture student at The Bartlett. Her interests lie primarily in sustainable design and research/investigative architecture.  

Jasmine smiling at the camera