Postgraduate study

Cultural Studies PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Cultural Studies

This transdisciplinary programme supports a range of research topics in visual and urban cultural studies, with a particular interest in place and memory, semiotic landscapes, materiality of writing, photography and visual knowledges, curatorial practices and multimodality in representation of research. Your research project will benefit from academic collaborations across architecture and history of art in ECA, and from co-supervision with staff in sociology, comparative literature, Canadian studies, Chinese cultural studies, social history and religious studies. You will also benefit from our collaborative exchanges and contacts with local and international research networks, cultural and heritage institutions and archives.

This programmes enable you to study cultural phenomena, practices and texts at an advanced level, critically engaging with theories and methodologies of transdiciplinary cultural research. Your projects will benefit from the diverse research expertise of staff from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, from our collaborative exchanges with colleagues across ECA and a broad range of contacts with local and international research networks, cultural and heritage institutions and archives.

The PhD is a major piece of independent research, preparing you for a future in academic scholarship. It is obtained by research and presentation of a thesis of 80,000-100,000 words. As a student you will have two supervisors with whom you will work closely throughout the research period. You will be required to take the research skills and methods course selected in consultation with your supervisors.

In addition to regular meetings with your supervisor, you will participate in postgraduate seminars and conferences and have opportunities to experiment with publications and curatorial projects.

All of our research students benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors. Your second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required. On occasion more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.

You will be required to take the research skills and methods course selected in consultation with your supervisors.

In addition to regular meetings with your supervisor, you will participate in postgraduate seminars and conferences and have opportunities to experiment with publications and curatorial projects.

Postgraduate facilities include a common room and computing facilities at Minto House and the Maltings.

In addition to the Main University Library students have access to the resources of: the National Library of Scotland, Scottish Studies Library and Digital Archives, Language and Humanities Centre, Edinburgh College of Art Library, the City Libraries, the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland.

Normally a UK masters degree or its international equivalent.

We may also consider your application if you have other qualifications or experience; please contact us to check before you apply.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

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

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four 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, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, 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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 08/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 08/05/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDCultural Studies3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDCultural Studies6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

You should submit a research proposal that outlines your project's aims, context, process and product/outcome. Read the application guidance before you apply:

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

Further information

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE