Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Architecture and Architectural History & Heritage

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

  • We are one of the UK's largest schools of architecture and landscape architecture with a respected international profile. We regularly host acclaimed visiting scholars, practitioners and critics. Our students achieve high levels of recognition and success, contributing to shaping the constructed environment through design, research, ideas, policy and architectural practice.

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

  • Our exclusive MA (Hons) Architectural History & Heritage programme is the only programme of its type in the UK.

  • With fascinating geological, ecological, rural, post-industrial, cultural and urban design phenomena and sites nearby, you have fertile ground to study and work with. Our programmes support you to develop rigorous, responsive and imaginative approaches to contemporary architectural, urban and landscape practices.

Study abroad

From an architecture student’s point of view, Edinburgh is one of the most inspiring and engaging cityscapes. It promotes an active learning environment while offering the most varied and brilliant student activities.

Andre Kong MA (Hons) Architecture graduate
Andre Kong MA (Hons) Architecture graduate

Architecture 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, and thematic approaches to briefs and sites, 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.


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 have ARB prescription and full Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) validation.

Year 1

In Architecture, you will learn about the building blocks 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 practice and architectural history.

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

Year 2 in Architecture works towards integrating your developing design skills in more complex and rewarding urban contexts with ambitious building programmes. 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.

At the end of Year 2, you can select whether you wish to take the three-year BA or four-year MA honours 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 placement period where you 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 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 placement, MA (Hons) students return to a humanities semester to complete a self-directed dissertation and choose an option from across the University. 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 are undertaken as part of the programme. If accepted for entry, you will be sent a letter outlining specific estimated costs for the forthcoming academic year.

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 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 period in Architecture allows for practice 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, field trips 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 Architecture programmes offer routes into the architecture profession and graduates typically continue their studies to qualify as architects working in private practice, local and national government or large commercial organisations both in the UK and overseas.

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