Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Architecture and Architectural History & Heritage

Why choose Architecture and Architectural History & Heritage at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Our architecture programmes are prescribed by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and have full Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) validation.

  • You will have opportunities to gain hands-on experience through embedded periods of integrated practice.

  • As a place of outstanding architectural interest and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh offers the perfect setting in which to study the built environment.

  • We're ranked 1st in Scotland and in the UK's top 15 universities for architecture/built environment in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

  • Our MA (Hons) Architectural History & Heritage programme is unique in the UK.

  • Our teaching is grounded in the research expertise and practice specialisms of our staff, which includes architects, designers, artists, engineers, computer scientists, historians and cultural theorists.

Study abroad

In my opinion it is the city that makes the University really stand out and there is no way of experiencing it without visiting it and getting involved.

Aitalina Semenova 2nd year MA (Hons) Architecture
Aitalina Semenova 2nd year MA (Hons) Architecture

Architecture’s scope is more than technical, environmental or historic expertise. Studying and practising architecture has the potential to shape culture, aspiration and community, to deepen our experience of the modern world and to imagine our futures.

In Architecture you will learn from leading architectural practitioners and researchers through architectural design exploration and proposition. Thematic approaches to briefs and sites are informed by theoretical and practical knowledge.

Our Architectural History & Heritage programme offers an unrivalled breadth of study in the historic built environment. It places the history of architecture, fine art, and heritage management within the context of urbanism and the cultural history of cities.

You will learn about different architectures of the past, the relationship of buildings and urban environments to the societies that produce them, and techniques for recording and preserving historic structures and urban fabric.

Pathways for Architecture

All architecture students are admitted to the MA (Hons) Architecture programme. At the end of Year 2 you will have a choice of pathways enabling accelerated progress or the development of broader academic interests - either our three-year BA or our four-year MA (Hons), including a variant of the MA (Hons) with an exchange year abroad.


Both programmes have Architects Registration Board (ARB) Part 1 prescription and full Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) validation.

Year 1

In Architecture, you will learn about the principles of architectural design. You will work on projects that look at architectural elements and assembly in different contexts.

At the same time you will be taught the fundamentals of technology and environment, art and design practices and architectural history. You will study with landscape architecture and structural engineering with architecture students in some courses.

Architectural History & Heritage begins with an introductory course covering the development of the built environment from earliest times to the present. You will also take relevant options in history, archaeology, and history of art, or any other course in the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences that suits your programme and timetable

Year 2

Architecture works toward integrating your developing design skills in more complex urban contexts with more ambitious building programme briefs. It includes a field trip to a European city where design projects are situated.

You will continue to apply your knowledge of technology and environment to your design work. You will also take an option course that allows you to broaden your learning in subjects across the University.

Option courses may follow a structured programme pathway in architectural histories or digital culture.

At the end of Year 2, you can select whether you wish to take the three-year BA or four-year MA (Hons) programme.

Year 2 of Architectural History & Heritage develops by broadening out to consider the city as a social and cultural phenomenon. In this year you will also take a course dealing specifically with techniques and practices concerning heritage management and conservation.

As in Year 1 you will have further opportunities to take option courses from across Edinburgh College of Art and the wider College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.

Year 3

The three-year BA route offers a direct route to ARB Part 1.

Architects Registration Board: student information

In Architecture, you will study design and its cultural and technical contexts. The MA (Hons) programme is a full honours programme with an integrated practice working period where you will study through distance learning as you gain professional experience. In this year, you will be able to develop your own personal interests in architecture with a range of studio options within the design courses.

In Architectural History & Heritage, you will study Texts & Theories in Western Architecture and have the opportunity to deepen your study of the built environment by taking a number of specialist option courses in the history of architecture, ranging from the medieval period, through the early and late modern periods, into the twentieth century.

In Year 3 you will also undertake a specialist building archaeology course that will teach historic building identification and recording techniques, as well as translation and analysis of this data in digital format. In addition, you will undertake a work placement where you will gain first-hand experience of conservation in practice.

Year 4

(MA (Hons) only)

In Architecture, following the period of practice working, MA (Hons) students return to a humanities semester to complete a self-directed dissertation and choose an option course from across the University. Option courses may follow a structured programme pathway in architectural histories or digital culture.

In semester 2 you will choose a further architectural design studio to complete an immersive design project, a course in Logistics and develop, curate and present an academic portfolio.

In Year 4 of Architectural History & Heritage, specialist honours courses are chosen on the same basis as Year 3. You will also complete a major supervised research dissertation on a topic of your choosing.

Are there additional costs?

Architecture students will need to purchase specialist equipment, such as a drawing board and laptop, as well as pay for drawing and model-making materials and printing costs. Self-funded field trips and study visits are undertaken as part of the programme.

Our facilities

Teaching takes place across a range of facilities all located in the Central Area.

You have access to design studios, well-equipped workshops, computer labs and libraries.

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA ) estate and facilities to further develop our flexible, stimulating, supportive and sustainable learning and research environment for students and staff.

Further information is available on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA


Please see individual programmes for details.

Study abroad

There are options for working and studying abroad in the honours years of our MA (Hons) programmes. The integrated practice working period in Architecture allows for work abroad.

We also offer international exchanges with Erasmus partner institutions in Year 3 and an Architectural History & Heritage exchange with the University of Virginia.

How will I learn?

Architecture courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, studio-based projects and iterative design teaching, field trips, critical reviews and practical experience.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a combination of coursework, exams, portfolio work and presentations.

Architecture students gain excellent skills in design, spatial awareness, problem-solving and project-based production, which combine into a strong and adaptable skill set.

The BA and MA (Hons) Architecture programmes both offer routes into the architecture profession and our graduates typically continue their studies to qualify as architects working in a wide range of established and emerging contexts, including private practice, local and national government, or large commercial organisations both here in the UK and overseas.

Architectural history and heritage graduates can have careers in conservation, land management, heritage or historical consultancy.