Architectural Studies

Architecture is a creative, scientific, and technical discipline dealing with the creation of the built environment for human habitation.


Because the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) degree has a limited number of spaces, the School of Architecture and Planning has an additional, competitive selection process which includes multiple steps. Please click here to get a list of complete steps and make sure you complete all of the steps.

The Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) programme is a three-year, full-time course of study offering a gateway to a potentially diverse field of professional career paths, both within the architectural discipline or peripheral to it.

Architecture is the generation of social and cultural heritage in the form of built spaces. It is a profession with long-lasting influences and consequences for both current and future generations. Although architects are primarily responsible for the design of buildings and their surrounding environments, the profession is evolving to include other important forms of design, including space planning, building materials, and the integration of the built and ecological environments, amongst other possibilities.  

The BAS programme is structured to produce graduates who can participate across a broad field of professions in both the larger design and construction industries. Due to the integration of courses and emphasis on coordinated application of skills, part-time studies are not available, although in exceptional circumstances it may be possible to spread some years of study over more than one year, with appropriate planning and approval by the degree convenor. 

A coordinated suite of Architectural Design and Theory and Theory and Practice of Construction courses form the core of the degree programme. Additional courses in Histories and Theories of Architecture, visual representation techniques, structural considerations in building, and entrepreneurial and management skills make up a supporting courses which are expected to be applied in the design work. While all courses include lectures and seminars, the bulk of the learning takes place in a design studio environment, in which students undertake design projects and around which the entire pedagogy revolves. In the studios, the BAS programme offers the unique opportunity of one-on-one consultation with lecturers twice per week as the primary teaching and learning methods. The coursework is supported in the School by exhibits of professional and artistic work, as well as lectures by practising architects both nationally and internationally. 

The BAS degree, followed by a minimum of 12 months experience in practice, may open eligibility for the one-year Bachelor of Architectural Studies with Honours (BAS [Hons]) degree, which itself may open eligibility for the 1-year Master of Architecture professional (MArch [Prof]) degree. 

The complete suite of professional degrees in architecture (BAS, BAS [Hons], MArch [Prof]) are validated nationally by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP), and internationally by the Commonwealth Association of Architects. 

Career Opportunities

The BAS degree qualifies graduates for registration with SACAP as an Architectural Technologist. Further degrees unlock additional opportunities: the BAS [Hons] degree qualifies graduates for registration as Senior Architectural Technologists, and the MArch [Prof] degree qualifies graduates for registration as Professional Architects. In all cases, some practical experience and the successful completion of registration exams are required. 

Becoming a Professional Architect is the traditional goal in the discipline, but the BAS degree may open up numerous other career opportunities, sometimes in combination with further studies. Such possibilities include:

  • Architectural draughtsperson
  • Interior designer
  • Furniture designer/fabricator
  • Urban designer
  • A landscape designer/landscape architect
  • Urban planner
  • Architectural historian or researcher
  • Lecturer or Professor in architecture


First Year of Study

APPM1000A Applied Mathematics (7 credits; semester 1)

Vector algebra, systems of coplanar forces, transversely loaded beams, frameworks, centres of gravity.

ARPL1000A Architectural Design and Theory I (60 credits; full year)

As an introduction to the design studio, this course lays the foundations of architectural thinking by presenting conceptual design principles, architectural elements, contextual influences, basic space-making and collaborative engagement.  Emphasis is placed on the development of design processes and methods of production to explore architectural possibilities.

ARPL1001A Theory and Practice of Construction I (30 credits; full year)

Introduction to basic building technology, materials and National Building Regulations. Roles and responsibilities of architects. Introduction to technical drawing. Building processes in domestic contexts, elementary services of water supply, sewerage reticulation and electrical supply. Introduction to topography, basic survey techniques and soil conditions. Services related to specific soil conditions.

ARPL1028A Design Representation I (10 credits; semester 1)

Introduction to forms of design and architectural representation and production. Through measured, free-hand, and creative forms of visual representation, the course introduces the fundamentals of descriptive geometry, three-dimensional representation drawings, principles of perspective drawing, and various methods of producing illustrative and rendered means of visual representation.

ARPL1029A Digital Applications in Architecture I (10 credits; semester 2)

Introduction to digital architectural production. The course uses contemporary industry-relevant software in the architectural discipline as tools for both architectural design and representation.

ARPL1030A Building Ecology (7 credits; semester 2)

This course introduces theoretical underpinnings of, and design approaches to, the harmonious and interdependent relationship of the natural and built environment. It explores the interconnectedness of design and socio-ecological systems, and critically examines the influences and effects of various scales of planning, design and building on approaches to sustainability.

ARPL1031A Histories and Theories of Architecture I (8 credits; semester 1)

This course explores the foundations of spatial culture as found in human habitation before “settlement,” and the nature of early settlements, landscapes and ritual spaces.

ARPL1032A History of Settlement, Architecture and Planning (12 credits, semester 2)

This course provides fundamental knowledge on settlements and architectural productions in Africa and in other parts of the world. A selection of settlements, architectural design, art objects, and spatial ensembles from different periods of time in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America are used to show that urban and regional planning and architectural programmes are continuously evolving along with human experiences in temporal and in physical spaces.

Second Year of Study

ARPL2000A Architectural Design and Theory II (60 credits; full year)

Through an integrated presentation of theory, practical analyses and creative design processes, this course emphasises the development of sustainable architectural approaches in myriad contexts.  Theory of place-making and the role of ecological, cultural and socio-economic considerations form core tenets of design and analysis projects developed in response to natural systems, urban influences, topography, and the integration of building and landscape across small-scale, mixed-use, and multi-unit housing buildings.

ARPL2002A Theory and Practice of Construction II (30 credits; full year)

Introduction to framed structures (timber, steel and concrete), cladding systems. Services related to framed structures. Relevant National Building Regulations. Building climate: thermal concepts and principles; passive and active energy system; use of solar charts and shading diagrams.

ARPL2012A Histories and Theories of Architecture (20 credits; full year)

This course explores architecture and its codification until the roots of modernism. The architecture of dynastic, religious and imperial centres of power in relation to technological developments, new materials, religious and aesthetic ideals are examined.

ARPL2019A Design Representation II (10 credits; semester 1)

Intermediate forms of design and architectural representation and production. Through targeted design/representation projects, the course focuses on design and creative production through a selection of representational media.

ARPL2020A Digital Applications in Architecture II (10 credits; semester 2)

Intermediate digital architectural production. The course elaborates on the use of contemporary industry-relevant software to create intermediate forms of architectural production, preparing for advanced methods of architectural design and representation.

CIVN2018A Civil Engineering Theory I (7 credits; semester 2)

This course applies the principles of static equilibrium and structural analysis to determine forces and deflections in simple structural systems. Loading and structural load paths are presented.  The diagramming of shear, moment, and axial forces are undertaken, and the analysis of trusses is introduced.

APRPL2021A Introduction to Structures (7 credits; semester 1)

An introduction to structural systems in the architectural and building construction fields, this course presents a survey of structural types and their relationship to the design of buildings.  A conceptual introduction to structural principles is presented and their influences on architectural design is analysed.

Third Year of Study

ARPL3002A Small Office Practice (7 credits; semester 1)

The concept of professionalism, architect/client relationships, consultant teams, small-scale contracting, contract without bills of quantities, elementary estimating, computer packages, certificates and final accounts, forms of architectural practice, financial planning, taxation, staffing, standard documents, managing projects, marketing professional services.

ARPL3005A Architectural Design and Theory III (70 credits; full year)

Using a pluralistic approach to architecture and a range of design approaches and methodologies, this course requires the conceptual and technical development of varied and complex architectural projects. The ability to holistically complete an architectural project is emphasised through the integration of building systems with cohesive conceptual, technical, aesthetic and sustainability objectives.

ARPL3031A Theory and Practice of Construction III (33 credits; full year)

Design development and detail design of large scale and complex building types. Detailed consideration of services and building infrastructure. Sustainable construction and design as a way to improve the environmental and maintenance performance of buildings through designing with the natural environment, climate, comfort, energy, water, resources, efficient structures, materials, daylighting and landscaping.  Application and adherence to the relevant National Building Regulations including SANS10400. Introduction to industrialized building systems. Introduction to specifications. Approaches to environmental control and performance modelling. Preparation of detailed technical documentation.

ARPL3021A Histories and Theories of Architecture III (20 credits; full year)

This course explores architectural histories and theories since modernism. It surveys both built and imagined architecture and how social emancipation, globalisation and media have characterised its production. The course extends knowledge of recent architecture and builds critical skills.

CIVN3029A Civil Engineering Theory II (7 credits; semester 1)

This course focuses on common building materials and their application in structural systems. Material properties and behavior, limit states design, and construction methods are investigated.

CIVN3030A Civil Engineering Theory III (7 credits; semester 2)

This course explores more complex, but common, structural systems in buildings. Material properties, types of structural foundations and connections, and the structural design of beams, columns and slabs are considered. An understanding of geotechnical information and its relevance for structural design is presented. 

Entry Requirements


Acceptance is dependent on departmental selection procedures. Applicants are required to complete a written and graphic exercise and may be invited to an interview. The exercise, interview, and Wits APS score are equally factored in the evaluation of applications. 

No specific subject combinations are required, but the following minimum entry criteria apply:

  1. A Wits APS of 29 or higher
  2. A minimum of 50% in Mathematics on the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam. Mathematical Literacy is not accepted. 
  3. A minimum of 50% in English Home Language OR First Additional Language on the NSC exam.

Applicants from international education systems who do not complete NSC exams must meet Faculty exemption requirements, after which an equivalent APS score and subject scores will be modelled to ensure equal comparison with South African applicants.

BAS Additional application requirements:
  • Complete the general application to Wits by June 30th of the year prior to the academic year, and select the Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree as one of your preferred degrees. 
  • Download and read the BAS Application process document (available here), which outlines the procedures and deadlines for the required application exercise.
  • Submit your application exercise before the published deadline.
  • Applicants who perform well on the exercise will be invited to an interview (as outlined in the application document). The interview is also a required step of the process.  
  • Applicants who complete all steps of the process and meet the minimum entry criteria for the degree will be considered for admission.
  • Because space in the programme is limited, meeting the minimum entry criteria and completing all the required steps does not guarantee admission. Offers are made by an applicant’s rank relative to the current year’s applicant pool, and typically many applicants are placed on a waiting list.  

University Application Process

  • The Student Enrolment Centre at Wits handles all student applications.
  • Please click here for an overview of the application process. 
  • Check the admission requirements for your degree. Check if any additional selection requirements apply. 
  • Submit your application, required documentation and application fee before the closing date.
  • Once you have applied, an admissions consultant will be assigned to your application.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • If you are an international applicant and/or have a foreign qualification, please click here.

Compliance with the minimum requirements does not guarantee a place at the University. The University has a specific number of places for first year undergraduates, approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees for the first year of study. The Fees website also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal. 

The Financial aid office provides information on student funding and scholarships. University-funded Scholarships include Vice-Chancellor's Scholarships, University Entrance Scholarships, Equality Scholarships, Sports Scholarships and National Olympiad winner awards. For information about NSFAS funding, please visit the NSFAS websiteExternal bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.

Wits Plus applicants: terms of payment are in accordance with University regulations, and students are not eligible for University bursaries/NSFAS or residential accommodation.