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Paniz Alizadeh-Irani shares how much she’s gained from the professional aspect of her Master of Architecture programme, working as an undergraduate module support assistant, and also with global firm Stantec, supporting the influential Better Places Research Project, run in collaboration with the University of Reading.

Close-up portrait of Paniz Alizadeh Irani.

As part of her master’s study at the School of Architecture, Paniz Alizadeh-Irani followed different Professional Skills modules.

“One of the great things about Reading’s School of Architecture is the professional modules on offer. They are arranged extremely thoughtfully, structured effectively, and they feed deeply into the learning experience.”

Supporting the Better Places Research Project

“Using the extensive contacts of the School, you can apply to practices and work with them on meaningful projects. I am currently working at Stantec, a global company providing services on projects around the world. My work there is supporting the Better Places Research Project.”

Stantec and the University of Reading made a successful research bid to secure Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funding. Working together, the two organisations created the Better Places Tool Kit which emphasises the social value of architecture, an increasingly important aspect for the profession.

Professors Flora Samuel and Lorraine Farrelly at the School of Architecture are social value experts. Together with Stantec, they received outstanding marks for their project at the review stage. One of the aspects of this project is delivering better land development for the community and focusing on the effects on the climate.

“What I really like about working with Stantec is that they aim to keep the needs of the community a key part of their thinking.”

Paniz also feels deeply invested in the social and environmental aspects of the projects she has been working on.

“It’s not only valuable for my career, it’s valuable for my world perspective and for my personal development.”

Mentoring undergraduate students

Another module that had great impact for Paniz is the Design Pedagogy module, that allows postgraduate students to help teach undergraduates.

Those who have chosen to follow the module report that it complements their experience of design education by giving them a different perspective into their field. They also gain important transferable skills, including communication, leadership and mentorship.

“My experience as a master’s student has been greatly enhanced by the teaching I have been able to do.

“It was so useful for me to learn these skills and it diversified my approach to architecture. It was a formal procedure and we were employed by the University to do it, which is a fantastic boost to our CVs, as well as the other benefits!”

Building up confidence

Paniz praises how the programme at Reading helped her build up her the confidence to chase opportunities and step into the profession.

“Also, the excellent connections that the School has with professionals ensures we get great selection of visiting lecturers where practitioners come in and share their inside knowledge on the industry that we will be joining. It’s incredibly valuable to have that insight and information.

“My experiences here have helped me see that I want to work in a practice that focuses on heritage conservation, and looks at the combination between social value and heritage and how they can work together. It’s been so helpful to refine my ideas through my professional placement.”

Learn more about our Master of Architecture course and professional skills modules