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A student working on desk that is angled towards them for easier use with colourful lockers behind them Image courtesy of Thorranze Zhang


Architecture by Design - PhD



3 years (Full time); 6 years (Part time)
Full-time; Part-time


A PhD in Architecture by Design will give you an informed awareness of the methods and theoretical frameworks that shape the ways in which practitioners and researchers have interpreted issues in the field and enable you to develop and justify your own interpretive experiments, fieldwork, design work and arguments.    

You will have the opportunity to pursue research by architectural design method, exploring the roles that design plays, and might play, within wider cultural processes.   

This PhD provides the opportunity for optimum reflection, interpretation and action: a minimum of three years full-time study, or six years part-time.    

The programme draws on the strengths of design teaching throughout the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) and you will work directly with a postgraduate supervisor from the School, but you can also work closely with other relevant postgraduate programmes and the full range of available staff and peer expertise in ECA and the University of Edinburgh as a whole. 

This programme is for graduates who want to pursue a rigorous, in-depth study of a specific topic of interest, where design methods are developed as research methodologies. We welcome prospective students with a strong idea of what they want to research, why it is considered an important focus of research and with a particularly developed understanding of how they might carry it out. A knowledge of the field of Architectural research-by-design and research-by-practice is desirable, but willingness to engage with primary-source material and to interpret this both through design and textual methods are essential attributes.

Why you should choose this 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 and encourage research that challenges conventional modes of practice and thought.


You will contribute to the development of the discipline, working on independent interpretive experiments, fieldwork, design work and arguments. 


You will have access to world-class computing and workshop facilities and will develop fluency in digital media and other modes of representation to engage in cross-disciplinary discussions and collaborative networks in creative work.


You will produce a carefully considered thesis that develops and supports an independent argument to international presentation standard.

How to apply and entry requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate research programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • See detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder  
  • Get information on what to expect after you apply  
  • Find out about study modes, start dates and fees  
  • Find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal  
  • Find out where to go for further advice and guidance.

Application process

Before you apply  

Students are assigned two research supervisors, the second of which may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS) or wider University. 

Please ensure that at least one member of staff (see below) maintains an active research programme that aligns with the themes of your proposed project.  

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to make contact with the relevant member(s) of staff via email to explain your research interests prior to submitting an application. Please note that we only accept applications and review application materials submitted through the official EUCLID application portal.

After you apply 

Once your application has been submitted for consideration, it will be sent to a team of academic reviewers for their attention. They will then make a decision about your application and research topic, and decide whether it is possible to make an offer of a place to study with us. You may be asked to attend a brief online interview but if this is the case, you will be notified in advance. 

Get in touch

Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)131 651 5740

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