Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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Here you will find some answers to questions frequently asked about our postgraduate courses at CAT. If the answers do not hold the information you are looking for, please contact us.


What facilities are available at CAT?

Most of the lectures and tutorials you would attend at CAT are located in the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE) building. This includes:

  • A 200-seat circular lecture theatre made from rammed earth
  • Large classrooms/workspaces and further smaller seminar rooms
  • A computer suite
  • Foyer with games, books and a bar
  • 24 en-suite twin bedrooms, overlooking a large open roof garden and decking

Onsite we also have:

  • Vegetarian Restaurant
  • CAT EcoStore
  • Straw Bale Theatre

To learn more about the facilities at CAT click here

I have been away from education for some time and am nervous about coming back to study. Can you advise?

We will make special efforts to help students make the transition back to studying and support them in regaining confidence and other aspects of their work. CAT attracts a diverse range of people, from the UK and across the world, with a wide variety of different backgrounds, life and work experiences and ages.

We would be happy to talk with you regarding this, please contact us

Will other learning institutions and employers recognise my CAT qualifications?

Yes, all of our postgraduate programmes are validated by an accrediting university (either Liverpool John Moore’s University or the University of East London) and are recognised internationally.

Does the site have disabled access?

During the Summer Season (April – October), access to site is via the cliff railway which has carriages that are adapted to receive wheelchairs. Free disabled parking spaces are available very close to the bottom station. We offer free entry to the Visitor Centre for carers.

During the winter months (November – March), the railway is closed and access to the Visitor Centre is via a stepped pathway, taking about 10 minutes to walk. Alternative disabled parking spaces are available at the top of the South Drive, avoiding the steps. The displays are located throughout a 7-acre open-air site. Most of the pathways around site are made up of compacted aggregates which are mostly level; however wheelchair users may require assistance in using these, particularly during periods of inclement weather. All the buildings have ramped or level access with doors, entrances and corridors wide enough for a wheelchair. There are wheelchair accessible toilets at the bottom car park reception building and near the shop at the top of the cliff railway.

We have electric mobility scooters and a wheelchair, either of which can be hired free of charge by calling 01654 705950 in advance of your visit.

Do you have wifi facilities?

Free visitor wifi is available within and close to a number of buildings on-site, including bottom and top station, the shop, the café and the WISE building.

Do I have to spend time at the accrediting university?

No, all of your lectures and tutorials are either at the Centre for Alternative Technology or can be accessed online for distance learning.

Distance learning is available for all courses except the Master’s in Architecture, which due to the nature of the course, must be completed on-site.

Sounds great – can I come for a visit?

Get a real sense of what it’s like to study at CAT by visiting us on one of our Graduate School open days, click here to learn more

Or come and experience our visitors centre, which is open all year round (except when we close for Christmas from the 2nd of December to the 6th of January).

Can I get a student loan?

All students may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan to cover both tuition fees and living costs via Student Finance England or Student Finance Wales. MArch Sustainable Architecture students may also be eligible for an undergraduate loan.

See our funding page for more info

Are there any scholarship options available?

CAT offers the Sir John Houghton annual bursary of £4,500 to a promising postgraduate student who demonstrates that they have an excellent academic record and a passion for tackling climate change.

Learn how to apply here

Master of Science (MSc), Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip.), and Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert.)

Can I study part-time?

Yes, you can study part-time by distance or in person starting with the September and November double-credit module. We then encourage you to complete a further two modules in your first academic year and the remaining chosen modules in your second academic year; you can, however, take longer if needed.

It is worth noting that, for a postgraduate student loan, you would need to complete the part-time MSc course within two years plus a 6-month dissertation.

For more info on fees and funding click here

Can I study remotely?

Yes, you can study via distance learning, or in person at CAT during study weeks (1 week in each 8-week module) or do a bit of both. You are asked to state your mode of study in August and in December for the following modules, which give you greater flexibility to account for your life outside of study.

If you chose to study a module or the entire course by distance, it is delivered through a Virtual Learning Environment platform (Moodle/Canvas) and through Skype for seminars in the form of:

  •  Lecture recordings, slides and lecture notes available to download
  • Online seminars
  • Formative practical exercises
  • Group Skype tutorials
  • Individual contact with your tutor
  • Online library access
  • Membership of SCONUL scheme, which provides you with access to university libraries across the UK and Ireland, national libraries and many of the UK’s colleges of higher education.

There is a good student social network which can be accessed through developing relationships in your online seminars and through social media (currently many students are in a Facebook group). Some regions have informal CAT groups made of graduates and current students and are student led.

What qualifications do I need to study at CAT?

You need an undergraduate degree of any nature or equivalent experience. See the entry requirements for each course on the relevant course pages. We do consider unusual applications, so if you are dedicated and interested and would like to discuss your suitability, please email

What teaching methods will be used?

If you attend the study weeks on-site, you will have the opportunity to take part in Talks, Lectures, Workshops, Practical sessions and Seminars from our academic staff and from visiting and guest lecturers. If you study by distance, you would receive lectures and seminars and, where possible, practical and workshop sessions or an alternative.

Coursework assignments aid learning and are achieved through a variety of assignments in the form of written essays, critiques, reports, a case study, numerical analysis, blogs, presentations and posters. This provides an opportunity for you to explore your personal interests in the field or professional practice in greater depth.

The course finishes with a dissertation for which you would have support throughout.

Can I switch between Masters courses?

It is possible to change between Sustainability and Adaptation course. However, changes between the other MSc courses are discouraged as it often isn’t possible to complete the required modules and it is administratively very difficult to swap between awarding universities.

We recommend that you explore all your options prior to applying, including reading the various course documents online, talking with the School and perhaps visiting on an open day. It is also possible to attend some of the modules as a weeklong short course, view short courses here.

But if you have any questions please get in touch.

What are the core and optional modules for each course and when do they run?

Each MSc course has both core and optional modules, with many of of these being shared between courses.

To learn which modules are essential and which are optional for each course and to find out module dates, please download our MSc Module Summary

Master of Architecture (MArch)

Do I have to have Part I before I can do Part II at CAT?

Candidates for this course must have an exemption from ARB/RIBA Part 1 or to be registered as an Architect on the ARB’s register Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 and a relevant undergraduate degree or equivalent experience.

Further information can be obtained on the ARB website.


Who will be teaching on the course?

The current teaching team is John Carter, Trish Andrews along with regular visiting lecturers Pat Borer and David Lea.

In addition to the course staff, we have a list of over 20 leading architects from all over the UK who have agreed to contribute to the course as visiting lecturers, tutors and critics. Students will also have access to tutors from the related MSc Sustainability and Adaptation suite of programmes.

All members of the teaching team for this programme have extensive experience in sustainable architecture.

What teaching methods will be used?

Teaching and learning at CAT is a collaborative process. Students are valued as equal, taking responsibility for their own learning.

Our main pedagogical approach is learning by doing. Much of the course promotes practical testing and building. For this reason, we avoid conventional “crits”; instead, students are encouraged to evaluate their own work and progress with the help of tutors. We do this through open reviews in the design studio, as well as exhibitions in the community, with our “live” project clients, and by presenting to students on our other programmes.

Through the years of teaching experience at CAT, we’ve found that this method of teaching enables students to develop the confidence and capability needed to tackle the building challenges they will face once they go back into the professional environment.

Find out about the experience of studying here or face to face on an open day.

Will the course focus on technology instead of design?

No, the course is a balance of architectural design and technology in which the two are integrated. We will ensure that students have a portfolio of project and design work that will be up to the high standards expected at Part II level.

Will the course focus on technology instead of design?

No, the course is a balance of architectural design and technology in which the two are integrated. We will ensure that students have a portfolio of project and design work that will be up to the high standards expected at Part II level.

Find out more about the details of studying Architecture at CAT on an Open Day.

Our students share their study experience.

This all looks great. Does this mean that you have RIBA validation?

ARB prescription and RIBA validation are two separate processes. Every school of Architecture has to have prescription from ARB and we run a formally recognised Part II programme.

The majority of our students think that it is a positive virtue to be independent of the RIBA. Many of our students who have successfully completed our Part II course have gone on to sign up for Part III RIBA courses at a range of other Schools of Architecture.

It is worth noting that a quarter to a third of all architects registered with ARB are not RIBA members. ARB is the UK’s statutory regulator of architects. ARB keeps a public register – of around 33,000 architects. Every architect in the UK has to meet the standards that it sets for education, training and practice. It is the sole legislative body within the UK responsible for allowing the use of the title Architect and for allowing the bearer to be a practising Architect within the UK.

Your Part II course looks very interesting. Is it possible to do it on a part-time basis?

From 2019 we will be offering a part-time route.

The structure of the full-time programme of attendance at CAT one week every month has been designed to accommodate students who wish to maintain a limited amount of employment or other commitments.

An average of 35 hours per week would need to be committed to your studies, and experience shows that, in the latter half of the course full-time study, without the distraction of other work, is essential for most students.

What facilities are available at CAT?

Students have access to all of the facilities at CAT, such as shared studio space where they can meet, have tutorials and review work. We also have access to other teaching facilities contained in the WISE building at CAT.

We have a lot of space for practicals and provide more hands-on building than most architecture schools with a range of sustainable materials such as timber, straw, hemp-lime and earth.

CAT also has a diverse and inspiring range of sustainable architecture projects on-site that have been built over the years by students and CAT, including the WISE building which won the RIBA award in 2011.

Can I get a student loan?

Students may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan (MSc & MArch) or an undergraduate loan (MArch only) via Student Finance England or Student Finance Wales.

For more info on fees and funding click here

Are there any scholarship options available?

CAT offers the Sir John Houghton annual bursary of £4,500 to a promising postgraduate student who demonstrates that they have an excellent academic record and a passion for tackling climate change.

Click here for details

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