What will I learn?

The PhD Programme at the AA is a full-time, three-year course that aims to train scholars and researchers in the fields of architectural history and theory, urban studies and technology. Its ambition is to learn from architectural knowledge and its history in order to understand the built environment at large. As Walter Benjamin noted, the great advantage of architectural knowledge is that it constitutes the possibility of pursuing a material history of the world. Architectural knowledge is here understood not as a static set of principles, but rather as an ever-changing conceptual and practical apparatus that manifests itself in concrete objects and spaces.

The programme encourages risky, rigorous and speculative dissertations that ultimately question architecture itself and its history, as well as its professional and disciplinary mandate. Parallel to the development of an individual thesis, each participant will be provided with a background of intense historical and theoretical thinking through weekly discussions with their director of studies and supervisor, monthly seminars with guest scholars and a yearly symposium that gathers invited guests in a collective discussion. Candidates are also encouraged to test their research by teaching in the Experimental, Diploma and Taught Postgraduate programmes at the AA.

Each candidate is tutored by a director of studies and a supervisor throughout the duration of the programme, and is monitored and evaluated by the PhD Committee – comprised of all of the directors of studies and supervisors. At the end of each year, every candidate must present the results of his or her research as a draft manuscript. The PhD Committee then assesses the individual progress of each person, as well as their active participation within the overall programme. A systematic and rigorous policy of print and online publication requires that each candidate’s end-of-year presentation is delivered both orally and as a publishable document.

Intended for researchers in architecture, urbanism and other subjects related to the built environment, the programme required that prospective candidates have experience in conducting independent investigations and study in their respective fields. Priority will be given to applicants who propose interesting, well-defined and provocative research hypotheses, and prospective researchers must all be able to support their hypothesis with a mature and coherent existing body of work in their chosen field. Upon acceptance to the programme, candidates prepare a thesis abstract, preliminary table of contents and bibliography that is submitted to the Open University for registration.

Which department am I in?

School of Architecture

Study options

Full Time (3 years)

Tuition fees
To be confirmed
Start date

Expected September 2022


Architectural Association School Of Architecture

36 Bedford Square,



Greater London,

WC1B 3ES, England

Entry requirements

For international students

The PhD programme accepts applications from graduates in architecture and other related disciplines a MA or MSc level, or an equivalent postgraduate qualification in a proposed area of research. IELTS (Academic) and IELTS (Indicator): A score of 6.5 overall is required, with at least 6.0 in each category. Online exam can be taken if test centres are closed in your region. TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: A score of 92 overall is required, with at least 24 in Reading and Writing, 20 in Speaking and Listening. Online exam can be taken if test centres are closed in your region.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.