Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Architecture, Master of (ARB/RIBA Part 2) MArch ARB Pt 2

Awards: MArch ARB Pt 2

Study modes: Full-time


Funding opportunities

The two-year Master of Architecture (MArch) programme offers a unique studio-based and research-led learning experience, and the opportunity to develop designs that engage with complex urban settings, innovative material systems, and critical forms of inquiry and representation, elaborating on nuanced responses to the pressing environmental, socio-economic, and political questions facing architectural practice in the 21st century.

Based in one of the most beautiful and architecturally significant cities in the world, the MArch programme at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) combines creative inquiry and academic rigour with a deep sense of professional responsibility, empowering our students to imagine and prototype forms of spatial practice that are low-carbon, situated, inclusive and regenerative.

As a student, you will work in close contact with world-leading researchers, and benefit from a series of guest lectures and workshops with eminent practitioners and scholars. You will have access to state-of-the-art studios and to the broad range of technical facilities within the Edinburgh College of Art, including digital fabrication (CAD/CAM), casting rooms, and printmaking suites, as well as wood, metal, and glass workshops, all supported by specialised technical staff. Fostered by this vibrant environment, the MArch programme has developed an ethos of design enquiry through making.



The programme has Architects Registration Board (ARB) prescription and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) validation. RIBA validation was achieved in 2011 and again in 2017 and 2022.

For further information about ARB and the prescription of architectural qualifications, visit:

The MArch is delivered through a diverse set of elective design studios, each focusing on a specific urban setting or geographical area, and on a set of thematic concerns. We offer complementary courses in theory, technology, and professional practice to engage with different facets of contemporary architectural discourse, and to develop core professional competencies. Uniquely, the programme offers two curricular pathways, allowing students to complete either a one or two-year design-studio thesis, prioritising either breadth or depth of enquiry.

The design studio is the heart of the MArch curriculum, and accounts for 160 credits of the programme. As a student, you will have the opportunity to explore different design approaches, and to develop your own specialism, by choosing from a range of design studio options. Each studio is led by a dedicated academic staff member whose expertise and research agenda frame the themes of investigation, and typically involves a field trip to sites of national or international interest, or an in-depth and hands-on multi-day workshop with invited experts. Many studios engage in elements of collaborative work, fostering creative and social exchanges amongst peers.

The MArch design studios operate through one of two curricular pathways, chosen by the student on arrival in Edinburgh.

Students on the Modular Pathway will develop two, independent year-long design studio projects, completing a highly resolved thesis while also developing a portfolio typified by breadth of enquiry. Modular studios are open to both 1st and 2nd year students, and offer opportunities for peer learning between cohorts.

Students on the Integrated Pathway will develop one design thesis project over the two years of the MArch programme, engaging with a wide range of architectural scales, from the urban strategy to the construction detail in a comprehensive project.

You can view examples of work completed in previous MArch studios through the collection of degree show catalogues available here:

MArch Degree Show Catalogues.

The remaining 80 credits comprise four compulsory non-studio courses.

Architectural Technology Research (ATR) supports students in innovative and creative research projects linking material and environmental approaches to the Climate Emergency. It encourages practical and exploratory studies in technical themes of particular relevance to the student’s selected studio and design project, working towards their seamless integration. ATR is a 20-credit course, and it runs throughout Semester 1 with a series of lectures on contemporary architectural technology and environmental issues.

Structured through a series of thematic theory seminars, of which students follow one of particular interest or concern to them, Studies in Contemporary Architectural Theory (SCAT) develops an in-depth knowledge of contemporary architectural discourses, drawing on historical and interdisciplinary texts as necessary. Students work in thematically organised groups, led by staff with specific expertise in the material. This allows for more active student participation, fosters the nuanced interpretation and debate of issues, and promotes a multi-perspectival approach. SCAT is a 20-credit course, and it runs throughout Semester 2.

In the second year of the MArch programme, the 20-credit course Architectural Management, Practice and Law (AMPL) explores the urgencies affecting architectural practice, and introduces students to the political, ethical and social context within which architects work. Through a series of lectures, workshops and drawing-based studies, it invites students to research and critically reflect upon three priorities for contemporary practice identified by the RIBA: Health and Life Safety, Ethics and Social Purpose, and Climate.

The Programme concludes with two plenary 10-credit courses which document and represent different aspects of the student work. The Design Report (DR) is a comprehensive document that describes in detail one of the projects completed during the programme, and offers an opportunity for students to reflect on the research and design development undertaken, to position their work beyond the institution, and to take responsibility for their design decisions in relation to the associated social and environmental effects. A companion piece, Academic Portfolio (AP2), is a curated representation and comprehensive record of the body of work developed during the programme, which demonstrates its relation to professional requirements and critically reflects upon, and celebrates, the breadth of enquiry undertaken.

Each year, we welcome a number of distinguished guests to the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). These international experts each deliver a free public lecture, in addition to engaging closely with staff and students through masterclasses, tutorials, discussions and crits.

Recent Geddes Visiting Fellows have included Gloria Cabral (Studio 4.4), Arne Vande Capelle and Gaspard Geerts (Rotor), Samia Henni, Flores & Prats, Katja Grillner, Hélène Binet, Anuradha Mathur & Dilip da Cunh, and Luis Callejas. Recent George Simpson Visiting Professors have included Jan De Vylder & Inge Vinck, O’Donnell + Tuomey, Peter Salter, Wang Shu & Lu Wenyu (Amateur Architecture Studio), Stan Allen, and Michael Webb. Recent David Skinner Memorial Lectures have been delivered by Brett Milligan, Teresa Moller, Jo Gibbons, Jaqueline Osty, Marti Franch, and Henri Bava.

In addition to programme-specific seminars in Architectural History & Theory, Conservation, and Landscape Architecture, ESALA also curates Frictions, the ESALA Public Lecture Series, which has had, in recent years, a specific focus on the climate emergency, interconnecting environmental pollution to the issues of colonisation, segregation, racism, forced migration, and to systems of injustice. Recent guests have included Shahed Saleem, Hannah Le Roux, Daniel Barber, Ursula Biemann, Joseph Grima, Anupama Kundoo, Bellastock, Alison Killing, Hélène Frichot, Jane Hutton, Giorgos Kallis, Cooking Sections and Rania Ghosn.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MArch ARB Pt 2Architecture21 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

Graduates of the Master of Architecture programme will have the capacity to:

  • Conceptualise, research and structure a rigorous architectural design thesis enquiry
  • Develop a critical architectural response to a culturally, politically, and/or environmentally charged urban context
  • Devise and articulate a complex spatial, programmatic, material, structural and environmental architecture to high level of resolution
  • Formulate and reflect upon a mode of contemporary architectural practice with reference to contemporary architectural theory
  • Achieve, at Part 2 level, the General Criteria and Graduate Attributes as defined by the Architects Registration Board of the UK

Students in the Master of Architecture (MArch) gain excellent skills in the development and articulation of spatial, programmatic, material, structural and environmental architectural designs capable of nuanced responses to the complex challenges facing the built environment in the 21st century.

Our MArch degree forms the second stage in a process that will enable you to register and practice as a professional architect in the UK.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree in architecture prescribed by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) at Part 1 or equivalent standard demonstrated in your portfolio.

As part of the application process, you must submit a personal statement and CV.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. On the first page of the portfolio incorporate your name and UUN (if applicable) and include examples of your work on the following pages. You should read the application guidance before applying as there are particular guidelines on portfolio and reference requirements:

*Preparing your application

If you do not hold an ARB Part 1 qualification, you will need to obtain qualifications at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 level before being eligible for registration. For further details, please contact the ARB:

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in writing, and 6.0 in all other components. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in writing, and 20 in all other components. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in writing, and 169 in all other components.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in writing, and 59 in all other components.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

The programme is postgraduate taught but undergraduate funded.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MArch ARB Pt 2Architecture21 MonthsFull-timeTuition fees

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit one reference with your application.

You must submit a portfolio and a CV as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio.

You should read the application guidance before applying as there are particular guidelines on portfolio and reference requirements:

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU