Edinburgh College of Art is home to an internationally recognised community of architectural historians. Our staff undertake cutting-edge research on a wide range of topics, from the architecture of the northern Renaissance to the twentieth-century Soviet Union. We also have a lively community of postgraduate research students, while our MA (Hons) Architectural History and Heritage is one of a very small number of undergraduate degrees in the subject.

The History of Architecture and the Built Environment Research Group is open to all with an interest in the subject: staff, students at any level, and staff/members of organisations involved in managing and shaping the historic built environment in Edinburgh, Scotland, and beyond. Our events bring together academic historians and practitioners, and we have strong links with external organisations including Historic Environment Scotland, Docomomo Scotland, and the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust. We carry out collaborative research, currently including work on the Edinburgh architect William Henry Playfair. We work closely with the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, also based at the University of Edinburgh.

Current externally funded research projects undertaken by members of the group include:

  • a study of Edwardian architecture (Dr Alex Bremner, funded by the Leverhulme Trust),
  • a project examining European writing on the art and architecture of the United States, 194590 (Professor Iain Boyd Whyte, funded by the Terra Foundation)
  • studies of the architect Peter Moro (funded by the Paul Mellon Centre) and postwar British hospital architecture (Wellcome Trust) (Dr Alistair Fair)

More details on the research activities of everyone involved in the group can be found by clicking on the links to individuals’ profiles, below.

Our flagship series is the Architectural History and Theory Research Seminar, which takes place fortnightly during the teaching semester and is organised in conjunction with the MSc Architectural History and Theory programme. The seminar is open to all with an interest in the subject. Other recent events include a conference on the Edinburgh New Town and New Towns in Scotland, organised in conjunction with University of Picardy Jules Verne and other partners. We are involved in the organisation of the 2020 European Architectural History Network Conference, which will take place in Edinburgh.

Please get in touch with Dr Alistair Fair if you would like more information.

Architectural History courses and programmes at Edinburgh College of Art

Undergraduate: Our MA (Hons) Architectural History and Heritage programme is one of a very small number of courses in this subject anywhere in the world. It offers a specialist training in the history of the built environment, with option courses relating directly to staff expertise. Our pre-Honours survey courses – Architectural History 1 and 2 – are also core components of the BA/MA Architecture programme, and are popular options for students from across the University.

Postgraduate: Our MSc in Architectural History and Theory offers advanced-level training in the subject. 

We welcome proposals for PhD study on topics related to the expertise of our staff.



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