Five reasons to choose the 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. 


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.  

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.

View the Architecture and Landscape Architecture guidelines (PDF)


Dr Ella Chmielewska

Senior Lecturer, Cultural Studies


Tel: +44 (0)131 651 3736

Facilities and resources

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

Scholarships and bursaries

AHRC PhD Doctoral Studentships

  • Deadline: 1 December 2022
  • Value: PhD tuition fees and stipend at the UKRI level for 3.5 years
  • Eligibility: For research interests aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's Schools.

ECA PhD Scholarship

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Tuition fees plus stipend at the UKRI level 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) and PhD by Distance study.

College Research Award

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Tuition fees plus stipend at the UKRI level 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, part-time (pro rata) and PhD by Distance study.

Edinburgh Doctoral College Scholarship

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Covers the tuition fee plus stipend equal to UKRI minimum rate for the relevant academic year (approximately £17,668 per year)
  • Eligibility: Open to UK and overseas students applying to start their first year of study for an on campus research degree in 2023-2024.

Carnegie PhD Scholarships

  • Deadline: 24 January 2023
  • 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