Reasons to choose the programme

This PhD provides a unique opportunity for reflection, analysis, and interpretation as an architectural historian based in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You will join a thriving network of world-class researchers and participate in a lively programme of Architectural History lectures, workshops, and colloquia.
You will be supported in composing an original thesis with an independent argument, and enjoy opportunities to share your work in numerous settings.
You will benefit from state-of-the-art, 24-hour library facilities and media laboratories, as well as multiple repositories dedicated to arts research.
You can expand your professional horizons through ground-breaking teaching experiences and targeted professional development training.



The PhD programme in Architectural History promotes a broad understanding of the methodological, theoretical, and historiographical aspects of the history of architecture, rooted in deep and rigorous engagement with research practices in the study of the built environment.

Supervision is available in a range of topics unrivalled amongst Architectural History PhD programmes in the UK, encompassing the history and theory of architecture across Europe, the Americas, and their contact zones from the late Middle Ages to the present day.

You will benefit from close links with specialist disciplines across Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) and Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) more generally. You will work directly with a postgraduate supervisor from the School, but will also have the opportunity to engage the full range of available staff and peer expertise in ECA and the University of Edinburgh as a whole.

Research interests

Areas of Architectural History staff interest and possible thesis fields include late medieval architecture in Europe, architecture in Renaissance and Baroque-era Europe and its contact zones (1400-1800), the architecture of the Scottish Enlightenment, architecture in colonial Latin America, the architecture of the British Empire, 19th- and 20th-century architecture in Germany, Russia, and Eastern Europe; as well as modernism in Britain. Permanent staff in allied disciplines additionally have expertise in medieval Islamic architecture and the architecture of Latin American modernism.

How you will study

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 elsewhere within the University - according to the expertise required. On occasion, students are assigned more than two supervisors, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.

The research culture is supported by seminar and public lecture programmes, and discussion groups, including the History of the Built Environment Research Group.

You will be required to take a course (or courses) in research training during your degree at the University. This may take the form of a semester-long course offered within ECA, consisting of workshops on research methodologies designed for students working in art, architecture, and allied disciplines. However, PhD candidates in Architectural History are encouraged to fulfil the requirement by taking courses in Methods of Architectural Research and Historiography. Alternatively, you may take a combination of the short postgraduate skills training courses offered by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), or any other research methods training suggested by your supervisor.

Before you apply

Please consult the profiles of academic staff for the PhD in Architectural History listed below. Before you apply, you should ensure that at least one member of staff maintains an active research programme that aligns with the themes of your project, and ideally its geography and chronology. You are strongly encouraged to make contact with the relevant individual(s) via email to explain your research interests and how you see them integrating with the research strengths of the prospective supervisor(s) prior to submitting your application. Please note that we only accept applications and review application materials submitted through the official EUCLID application portal.


How to apply and entrance 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

Take me to the University of Edinburgh website on how to apply for postgraduate study

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.

Alumni profiles


John Lowrey

Senior Lecturer, Architectural History; Programme Director, Architectural History & Heritage - Programme Director, Architecture MSc by Research - ESALA PGR Director


Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2314

Facilities and resources

Students at the University of Edinburgh have access to a range of library resources across the campus and online.

Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (often abbreviated to CAD-CAM) facilities are available to students across Edinburgh College of Art workshops. These include 3D printers, 3D scanners, CNC routers, CAD embroidery machines and laser printers.

Scholarships and bursaries

AHRC PhD Doctoral Studentships

  • Deadline: 1 December 2021
  • Value: Stipend of around £15,600 p/a & tuition fees
  • Eligibility: For research interests aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's Schools.

ECA PhD Scholarship

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Tuition fees plus stipend of £15,700 per year for three years
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited from first year applicants for PhD research projects that take advantage of the leading research expertise across ECA. Home and Overseas applicants welcome. Funding for full-time and part-time study (pro rata).

College Research Awards

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Tuition fees plus stipend of £15,700 per year for three years
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited from first year applicants for PhD research projects that take advantage of the leading research expertise across ECA. Home and Overseas applicants welcome. Funding for full-time and part-time study (pro rata).

Edinburgh Doctoral College Scholarship

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Covers the tuition fee plus stipend equal to UKRI minimum rate for the relevant academic year (approximately £15,609 per year)
  • Eligibility: Open to UK and overseas students applying to start their first year of study for an on campus research degree in 2022-2023.

Carnegie PhD Scholarships

  • Deadline: 31 January 2022
  • Value: Covers tuition fees, a maintenance allowance and a research expenses allowance.
  • Eligibility: For graduates of an eligible Scottish university with a first-class honours degree, or final year students of an undergraduate degree at an eligible Scottish University expected to obtain a first-class honours.


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4086