Five reasons to choose the programme

Internationally renowned, this is Europe’s first full undergraduate programme in the history and theory of architecture, and still the only one in the UK.
With two years of general and two of specialist study, you'll gain the knowledge and skills to pursue a wide range of career options, including further research.
From lectures to site visits and field research, you'll be taught by award-winning architectural historians and theorists and have access to world-class libraries and collections.
You will be studying in the heart of a unique World Heritage Site in one of the world's most loved cultural cities, surrounded by extraordinary architecture.
With an annual trip to a major European city, you'll have the opportunity to travel and, if you want to, to intern with a leading partner organisation in your third year.


Architecture has the capacity to help us explore wider social, cultural, political and economic themes. Our undergraduate programme in Architectural History and Heritage is rooted in this potential and places the history of architecture and fine art within the context of urbanism and the cultural history of cities. If you are interested in History, then studying Architectural History and Heritage is a distinctive and exciting way to pursue your interests.

The programme comprises two years of general study and two years of specialist, Honours-level study. You will develop a broad understanding of the field, including knowledge of heritage and conservation issues and practice, and have the opportunity to look in depth at particular periods, movements and theories of architecture and the wider built environment from ancient times to the present.

An unrivalled breadth of study

Edinburgh has a unique concentration of professional architectural historians, all of whom are actively shaping the field through new research as well as their teaching. We offer an unrivalled breadth of study in the historic built environment. Our staff specialise in topics ranging from ancient and medieval, through the early and late modern periods, to the twentieth century. Our programme engages with the latest research on all these topics.

Unique in the UK

Launched in 1990, our degree is the only full undergraduate programme in the history of architecture anywhere in Europe, and it remains the only one in the UK. We now have a core staff of six full-time architectural historians, and around a dozen associated staff.

Teaching takes place through lectures, seminars, tutorials, site visits and field research. These draw on the extraordinarily rich urban context of Edinburgh itself, as well as the architectural heritage of Europe and beyond.

Additional benefits

Thanks to the generous benefaction of Mr Ben Pentreath, the MA Architectural History and Heritage programme offers additional financial support to students undertaking dissertation research in their fourth year of study, allowing travel to explore a building, city, and/or archive anywhere in the world.

The Ben Pentreath Fund also makes possible our annual student trip to a major European capital to look at and study noted buildings in context.

Programme structure

The first two years of study (‘Pre-Honours’ years) offer a rich and extensive overview of the history of architecture and urbanism from across the globe. You will be part of a vibrant community of up to 300 students, drawn from all areas of interest and expertise across the University. These include architecture, history of art, languages, history and classics, English literature, civil engineering, and many more.

In these years, you will survey the history of architecture and urbanism worldwide, including major buildings and cities of the ancient world, of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, of European society and culture, as well as the major transformations affected by industrialisation and technological innovation coming into the twentieth century.

In Year 2 you will also learn specific approaches to the professional recording, assessment and management of historic buildings and their material fabric.

In addition to core courses, you will choose from a number of elective-based courses from across the University of Edinburgh.

In Years 3 and 4 (‘Honours’ years), you will have the opportunity to develop and refine your interests by choosing to study specialist, Honours-level courses drawn from an extensive list covering the medieval world; Islamic art and architecture; the European Renaissance and its global contexts; the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries, including Georgian and Victorian architecture and their reverberations worldwide; and Modern architecture in Europe, Russia, and the British Isles.

Third year students will also study the history of the theoretical development of architecture from ancient times to the present, and take a practical course on the archaeology of buildings.

You will have the opportunity to undertake an internship with a museum, archive or historic environment agency, including National Museums Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, The Cockburn Association, and Edinburgh World Heritage.

In Year 4 you will write a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choosing.

All Honours options are 20 credit, semester long (11 week) courses.


Our students follow a number of routes on graduation. Some opt to continue their studies at Masters and doctoral level, either in Architectural History and Heritage or a related subject. Others move into architectural conservation, or to work in museums, libraries and galleries.

In teaching the skills of critical analysis and the presentation of arguments based on a close reading of the available evidence, the course offers a valuable foundation for a wide range of careers, and our students have been successful in many areas.

How to apply and entrance requirements

If you'd like to study on an undergraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to

  • see the structure of the programme and what you will study each year
  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about fees
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance

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

If you have any questions about the application process, our Undergraduate Admissions Office will be happy to help you.

Email the Undergraduate Admissions Office:


Dr Alistair Fair

Reader in Architectural History

Programme Director - MA (Hons) Architectural History & Heritage


Facilities and resources

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


College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Undergraduate Admissions Office

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 3565