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Three students on a spiral staircase are wearing blue hard-hats and taking photos of their surroundings, which is the internal of a building that looks to be in disrepair Image courtesy of Remo Pedreschi

Cultural Studies - PhD



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


Choose to undertake a PhD in Cultural Studies and you’ll research visual, design and urban cultures. Based in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) within Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), you’ll have access to exciting opportunities for cross-disciplinary exploration and research.  

Our PhD in Cultural Studies is offered as a three-year full-time (or six-year part-time) degree. It is an independently directed and intensive piece of research based on a substantial written dissertation.  

Topics for PhD study are normally proposed by applicants but can also be negotiated with individual members of staff. Support and supervision may be provided by any of the teaching staff in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) and beyond.  

Working closely with your supervisor(s), you'll pursue independent research leading to a thesis. This will be an original, significant, and creative contribution to knowledge in visual and cultural studies.

Research environment

ESALA is a world-leading centre for the study of architecture, the city and visual culture.  

Located within Edinburgh College of Art at the University of Edinburgh, the School boasts a wide variety of specialisms in cultural theory and history, design and urban cultures, visuality and visual knowledges, place memory and spatial practices, and architectural theory and criticism.     

Research is central to life 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. Postgraduate research in particular is vital in maintaining our critical dynamism and international profile.  

We actively promote interdisciplinary approaches to the understanding of visual culture and the city and encourage research projects that challenge conventional modes of practice and thought. In addition to supporting students’ individual research, academic staff encourage and facilitate collective project-based activities, including publications, symposia and exhibitions.  

Why you should choose this programme


Research supervision is available in a broad range of topics drawing on expertise from across the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and beyond.


We provide a unique research context for studying visual culture and the politics of representation, encouraging collaborative approaches and interdisciplinary research methodologies.


We encourage experimentation in working with a range of critical modalities, forms of representation and writing practices.


Our week-long Cultural Research Summer School in Berlin facilitates exchanges of research methodologies, modes of documentation, writing and presentation.


Students are encouraged to actively contribute to research culture and cultural criticism and seek ways of transforming their academic work into publications.

How to apply & entry requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate 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.

Preparing your application

Common to all research programmes are a set of research aims, a research context, a research process and a research product/outcome. The research proposal should include reference to all of these elements. All applicants for postgraduate research programmes must submit a research proposal.

Portfolios or writing samples are also required for some research degrees.

Get in touch

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

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