Postgraduate study

Architecture by Design PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Architecture by Design

The Architecture by Design PhD offers you the opportunity to pursue design-led research at the highest level. The words ‘by design’ refer to your mode of:

  • research
  • practice
  • exegesis

Therefore, it is important to understand how your ‘by design’ method informs and directs a thesis over a particular research duration, and how the development of your ‘by design’ methodology is not only an important aspect of the thetic process, but also important to how your thesis is finally presented.

Research topics

This PhD can be pursued through many lines and techniques of architectural inquiry, spanning:

  • design
  • buildings
  • technology
  • history
  • sustainability
  • conservation
  • theory
  • criticism
  • city
  • visuality
  • communication
  • philosophy
  • politics
  • environment
  • landscape
  • information technology
  • digital media

Research output

Your output must contain original works such as designs, built work, drawings, models, photographs, video, sculptures, installations or websites and include documentation of the processes by which the work was produced.

Your research culminates in a professionally presented text of not more than 50,000 words and a comprehensive record of the exhibited material (images, drawings, photographs) contained in a coherent and archivable format (bound thesis and/or CD/DVD).

To complement your academic supervision, you will have the opportunity to participate in a range of lectures and workshops, contributing to the development of specific, transferable and professional skills.

You may also be offered the opportunity to contribute to teaching within ESALA. If so, you will be offered support and training to help develop your teaching skills more effectively.

Our full facilities will be available to you, including extensive digital and specific material workshops. You will have the opportunity to contribute to our healthy design presentation culture, print and e-publication output, international debate across a range of design-related fields and the organisation of symposia and conferences.

The PhD by Distance is available to suitably qualified applicants in all the same areas as our on-campus programmes: Art, Design, History of Art, Music, Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

The PhD by Distance allows students who do not wish to commit to basing themselves in Edinburgh to study for a PhD in an ECA subject area from their home country or city.

There is no expectation that students studying for an ECA PhD by Distance study mode should visit Edinburgh during their period of study. However, short term visits for particular activities could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For further information on the PhD by Distance please see the ECA website

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

Normally a UK masters degree or its international equivalent.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

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 Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 70 overall with at least 59 in each component.

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.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PhD3 YearsFull-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
  • your tuition fee 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
Programme start dates Application deadlines
12 September 2022 1 August 2022
9 January 2023 1 December 2022

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.

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:

You must submit a portfolio 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 may provide a link to a website in addition to, but not instead of, your portfolio, if you wish.

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