The Architectural Association, located in Bloomsbury, is the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom. It was founded by a group of young architects in 1847 who were not satisfied with the architectural education available, forming a school to provide a self-directed, independent education at a time when there was no formal training available. The changing conditions of London provide an urban laboratory for students in many parts of the school, with students working on projects with the Greater London Authority, the quickly developing landscape of East London, and the redevelopment of King's Cross, and other projects within the immediate context of London. Students can stay for up to a year on this program, which includes a field trip each semester and a chance to work in studios with some of the world’s most established and emerging architects.
For additional information, visit the AA School of Architecture website. Specifics on the fall semester and spring semester study abroad programs can be found at the appropriate links.
The City of London
London is one of the most exciting and dynamic places in the world to be a student - a city at the cutting-edge of developments in every field. With more than 8.5 million inhabitants and an incredible concentration of history and creativity throughout the city, you can find yourself among a sea of both British and worldwide cultures. For study purposes, London offers special advantages, including major libraries, museums and art galleries, the headquarters of learned societies, and research institutes in medicine, law and the humanities.
Did you know…?
Some famous alumni of Architectural Association include Richard Rogers, John Ruskin, and George Gilbert Scott, Sir Peter Cook, and Zaha Hadid.
The program at the Architectural Association School of Architecture is for College students who have completed sufficient architectural courses.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Successful completion of sufficient architectural courses by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure.
Other Requirements: Evaluation of individual portfolio included in application process.
Completion of at least two full years of undergraduate study by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure is required.
Language of Instruction
A full course load at Architectural Association consists of prescribed studios and thematic courses that change each semester. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.
Students studying abroad during their junior year will be in the "intermediate" level at the Architectural Association. The intermediate level provides the basis for development by experimentation within the unit system. There are twelve units include issues ranging from History & Theory, Technical Studies (construction, environmental design and new technologies), and Media Studies (media, including video, film, figurative drawing, printmaking, photography and digital media). The supplementary studies program works with specialist advisers, bringing in expertise from internationally renowned theorists, engineering consultants, and artists.
Each of the Visiting Student Semester Programs is a full-time 15-week intensive design-based curriculum that combines conceptual and material research in the process of radical criticism and the rigorous production of architectural projects and ideas. Students develop individual projects and work together in small teams to test their ideas. A field trip component is included in this program.
The program occupies studio space in the AA's buildings in Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, in the heart of London's West End, and gives visiting students an opportunity to gain exposure to the international life of the AA, providing access to the School's seminars and lectures, public reviews, exhibition openings, book launches and other special events.
As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.
The interim and final project presented by the student in each course serves as the main process of assessment.
Grades are reported to Penn on the Architectural Association scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
AA School of Architecture Grade
All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by Architectural Association prior to the start of each semester. Specifics will be distributed upon acceptance.
Part of the academic program requires you to go on a field trip during the academic year, which may be in the UK or abroad. The destination, duration, and price are determined closer to the beginning of your semester.
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.
The Architectural Association does not provide accommodation to students, but they have partnered with the University of London Housing Services to assist students looking for private accommodation. The Architectural Association will provide accepted students with further information regarding accommodation, while the ULHS can give students advice on how to find accommodation, which areas to consider, what the options are, pricing and more.
Information regarding accommodation can be found here.
Cost and Finance
Penn Abroad Financial Policies
Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs. Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare. Please see the program budget sheets below for more information. For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.
Financial Aid and Study Abroad
In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs. Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. AASAP/UK Lord Acton Memorial Scholarship: Merit-based scholarship awarded to the applicant who demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of the value of an international educational experience and who agrees to share how the scholarship helped to fulfil their academic and personal ambitions. The award is £500 for a semester abroad or £1,000 for a full year. BUTEX offers eight scholarships to North American students studying at a university in the United Kingdom. The value of each scholarship is £500 and will be paid to the winners once they have arrived and registered at their host university. Interested students should contact the appropriate Global Programs Manager in the Penn Abroad office.
For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.
To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.