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.

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.

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.


Dr Elizabeth Petcu

Lecturer in Architectural History

Programme Director, PhD in Architectural History


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 Collaborative PhD Studentship – After Modernism: Architecture, Culture and Postmodernism in Scotland, 1975-2005

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Tuition fees and £15,285 stipend (increasing annually with the rate of inflation) (fees-only for EU applicants)
  • Eligibility: UK/EU applicants only are eligible to apply for this studentship.

AHRC PhD Doctoral Studentships

  • Deadline: 12 noon on 2 December 2019
  • Value: Stipend of around £15,000 p/a & fees (fees only for EU students)
  • Eligibility: For research interests aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's Schools.

ECA PhD Scholarship

  • Deadline:
  • Value: £16,000 per year for three years
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited for PhD research projects that take advantage of the leading research expertise across ECA.

Carnegie / Caledonian PhD Scholarships

  • Deadline: 28 January 2020
  • Value: Covers tuition fees, a maintenance allowance and a research expenses allowance.
  • Eligibility: For graduates of a Scottish university with a first-class honours degree, or final year students of an undergraduate degree in Scotland expected to obtain a first-class honours (withdrawing if they fail to do so).

College Research Awards

  • Deadline:
  • Value: £16,000 per year for three years
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited for PhD research projects that take advantage of the leading research expertise across ECA.

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Covers the difference between the tuition fee for a UK/EU postgraduate student and that chargeable to an overseas postgraduate student
  • Eligibility: Open to overseas students commencing a PhD in any field of study.


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4086