Major changes to the Standard

This edition of the National Standard of Competency for Architects (NCSA) differs from previous editions in three main ways. First is the structural change in the organisation of the components; second is the reduction in the number of performance criteria against which competency is demonstrated and evaluated; and third is the development of a broad overarching framework that explicitly articulates the major domains in which architectural knowledge, skill and agency is to be learned, practiced and assessed.

Major goals for this edition were to simplify and clarify the document structure and language, as well as update and streamline the performance criteria statements, eliminating repetition and redundancy but also adding new emphasis in areas that were previously not sufficiently recognised or which have in recent years acquired greater prominence in practice.

Main structural changes include the deletion of the former ‘Context’ layer; the reduction in number of ‘Elements’ (42 to nine); and the reduction in number of ‘Performance Criteria’ (149 to 70). The number of ‘Units’ has remained constant (four), but with a renaming of Unit 3 (formerly Project Management) as ‘Project Delivery’ to more clearly express the activities undertaken by Architects in this regard and avoid confusion with the roles of non-architect Project Managers.

The nine Elements represent a set of discrete aspects of architectural practice, all of which are integral to the conception, delivery and management of architectural projects as well as to the wider creative and professional endeavours of Architects. The naming and ordering of the Elements does not presuppose a particular mode of practice, nor a particular sequence in which the aspects (in part or as a whole) occur. Architectural practice is increasingly characterised by diversity in practice structures, project types, procurement methods and contractual arrangements. However, the Elements represent those aspects of practice in which an architect, in order to demonstrate competency and achieve registration, must possess knowledge and skill. As with the previous versions of the Standard, where concerned with the specifics of project delivery, competency must be demonstrated in relation to a complex project.

The Knowledge Domains represent a new organisational layer that is intended to provide a more comprehensive picture of competency of Architects and offer a degree of flexibility in the ways that knowledge and skills are provided by educators, evaluated during course accreditation, and examined by assessors. Knowledge Domains are all generally relevant (‘necessary’) to the demonstration of competency in relation to each Performance Criterion, but one or more Domains are highlighted as particularly pertinent (‘critical’) to a Performance Criterion. 

Under the previous editions of the Standard, the APE Part 1 logbook procedures specified a set of Elements in which candidates were required to obtain minimum numbers of hours of experience at various levels in order to be eligible to sit Parts 2 and 3 of the APE. As a result of the review, the former seven Elements (which encompassed 22 Performance Criteria) are now 15  Performance Criteria spread across eight Elements.