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Educating the chartered surveyor: looking back to look forward

Carrie de Silva (Harper Adams University, Newport, UK)

International Journal of Law in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1756-1450

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to consider perennial issues in the education of chartered surveyors and to use the debates and experiences of the past to inform the present and future, particularly the question of the balance between academic and practical training.


Primary and secondary sources were used to establish a history of the growth of the profession and the development of formal education and assessment from the 19th century and to consider current issues with reference to wider theories of education.


The profession grew from vocational roots and did not enjoy the centuries of status of, say, the law. The 19th century saw an increasing technicalisation and professionalisation of surveying, with developments in various strands of the discipline, from the rural land agents to construction and public housing specialists. The muted reception from the universities in recognising the discipline is instructive. Looking at the relationship between classroom education and apprenticeship and what is needed in the preliminary education and assessment of surveyors holds contemporary lessons as increasing university fees has prompted renewed review of the most economical ways of training, while maintaining rigour.


There have been histories of surveying and of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, but this paper relates the past to the present. Its value is in highlighting the tension between the practical and academic, allowing current debates to benefit from earlier discussions and longitudinal experience of different models of education. This paves the way for a wider consideration of experiential learning theory to be applied to a fundamental review of surveying education.



de Silva, C. (2014), "Educating the chartered surveyor: looking back to look forward", International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 250-270.



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