Architecture - PhD/MPhil/MSc by Research


Postgraduate research is vital to ESALA’s critical dynamism and international profile. Studying for a PhD/MPhil/MSc by Research in Architecture, you will be contributing to the UK’s largest centre for the study of architecture and environmental design: a world leader in its field. The programme offers you the chance to study architecture in all its aspects and you will be immersed in an interdisciplinary environment which draws on a wide variety of specialisms. These include design, the history and theory of architecture and urbanism, sustainability, technology, architectural conservation, digital media, landscape architecture and salutogenic environments, and architectural criticism.   

Research interests

Research is central to the life of Architecture within ESALA. It motivates both the intellectual and creative facets of our activities, as well as driving our collaborations with a broad range of external institutions, both within the UK and internationally. We actively encourage research projects that challenge conventional modes of practice and thought and which can make a positive impact on government policy making and on people’s lives. We also seek to develop research that addresses global challenges, exploring environmental resilience and sustainable development.

We are interested in a diversity of conditions: from the most intimate spaces of dwelling, through complex infrastructures and open spaces, to the heterogeneous fabric of cities and their wider territorial environments. Studying architecture and its allied disciplines within the larger Edinburgh College of Art also provides exciting opportunities for cross-disciplinary exploration and research with the schools of Art, Design, History of Art, and Music.

Top five reasons to choose the programme

  • You will have access to supervision from a range of world-class researchers, drawn from within and beyond the discipline of architecture.
  • We actively promote interdisciplinary approaches to the understanding of architecture and encourage research projects that challenge conventional modes of practice and thought.
  • You will benefit from leading research training methodologies and seminar events, including distinguished visiting professors, all within a lively, research-driven environment.
  • You will have access to world-class computing, library and workshop facilities, all located in a European capital city with good transport links both within the UK and abroad.
  • The programme provides exciting opportunities for cross-disciplinary exploration and research with the schools of Art, Design, History of Art, and Music

Student work


Prof Mark Dorrian, Programme Director | View staff profile >

This is a research programme. Support and supervision may be provided by any of the teaching staff in this School.

View the full staff list for Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture >


Everything you need to know about finding perfect student accommodation.

Resources for History of Art, Art, Architecture and Landscape Architecture students.

A fully operational, entirely student-run 90-seat theatre housed in a neo-gothic church.

Get information, advice and guidance about your career options.

The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) is the main space for anyone using the University of Edinburgh’s historic collections.

Work spaces are available across the University. ECA's computers include software tailored to the disciplines studied here.

At the heart of the Evolution House Learning and Research Zone, the ECA Library provides an innovative environment for learning, teaching and research resources in art and design.

ECAfé provides a full catering service to all staff, students and visitors to Edinburgh College of Art.

Edinburgh Global's mission is to encourage internationalisation, enhance the student experience, create and develop partnerships.

EUSA represent the student voice. They provide services, run events, and facilitate student societies.

Information and guidance on financial matters for all students of the University of Edinburgh.

A Georgian garden that doubles as a venue for performances in the centre of the city.

The primary collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, and research material.

The workshop facilities include band saws, pillar drills, sanders and wire-cutters.

This model workshop is equipped for constructing architectural models in a wide variety of materials.

By day, a café, bar and study space, and by night a club venue. Potterrow’s dome is also home to the Advice Place and the Potter Shop.

Includes a screen-printing room, relief room, lithography room, process room, intaglio room, and caseroom.

The neo-classical Sculpture Court in the ECA Main Building is home to the many pieces from the Edinburgh Cast Collection, and is regularly used for student exhibitions.

Caters to a diverse range of users from occasional exercisers to international athletes.

Offering counselling services for students, workshops, consultation and training for staff.

Supporting students with dyslexia, mental health issues and students on the autistic spectrum, as well as those who have physical and sensory impairments.

Talbot Rice Gallery is the public art Gallery for the University of Edinburgh.

Home to six distinctive bars, Teviot is the oldest purpose built students' union in the world.

A hub for the University Societies and setting regular live music, comedy, spoken word and poetry nights.

A bar at the Lauriston Campus which hosts regular events including club nights and gigs.

Scholarships & bursaries

Successful applicants will have a research interest aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's five Schools.

The scholarships cover tuition fees, maintenance allowance, research and travel allowance.

Designed to attract high quality students applying for PhD research.

Funding for PhD students undertaking interdisciplinary research at ECA. (£16,000 per year)

Open to overseas students starting a PhD at University of Edinburgh.

News & events

Announcing the details of the 14 ESALA Research Seminars scheduled for Semester Two.


The six contestants who took part in the ECA heat of this year's 3 Minute Thesis competition
The six contestants who took part in the ECA heat of this year's 3 Minute Thesis competition

Six PhD students battle it out, with wins for Music and Landscape Architecture.


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Phone: +44 (0)131 650 4086