The AA School’s PhD programme combines advanced research with a broader educational agenda, preparing graduates for practice in global academic and professional environments. Current PhD topics at the AA encompass architectural theory and history, architectural urbanism, advanced architectural design, the city, emergent technologies and sustainable environmental design. Under each of these strands, doctoral candidates may either follow the traditional route of a text-based thesis or a studio-based option of a PhD in architectural design, engaging with design as research tool as well as a product of the doctoral thesis.
PhD studies at the AA are full-time for the entire duration. This starts with a preparatory period during which candidates attend selected and seminars while developing their PhD research proposals. Approval of proposals initiates the formal period of PhD study which has a maximum duration of four calendar years. At any given time there are some 30 research students from several countries enrolled in the programme. Each PhD candidate is guided by two supervisors, one of whom is designated as Director of Studies.
Architectural history and theory topics are directed by Mark Cousins and Marina Lathouri. Research on urban and housing issues addressing policy, strategic thinking and spatial design is supported by Lawrence Barth, Jorge Fiori and Hugo Hinsley. Architectural research in sustainable environmental design is directed by Simos Yannas. Research in emergent technologies in architectural design, including active material systems and urban metabolic design is directed by George Jeronimidis and Michael Weinstock. A new research strand launched in 2014-15 on ‘City-Architecture’ is directed by Pier Vittorio Aureli and will be organised around a collaborative seminar and collective design agenda.
Applications are welcome from graduates in architecture and other related disciplines. Prospective applicants should hold a Masters degree or equivalent in the area of their proposed research. Enquiries can be addressed to one of the programme’s directors of studies or the AA Admissions Office, and applicants should be prepared to come to the school for an interview. Tuition fee bursaries are offered to highly qualified applicants. Travel bursaries are available to registered PhD candidates presenting work at external events. During their studies at the AA, PhD students are expected to produce work worthy of scholarly publication, including conference papers and journal articles. Opportunities for teaching at the AA School are available during the second and third years of PhD studies.
The AA is an Approved Institution and Affiliated Research Centre of the Open University (OU), UK. The OU is the awarding body for research degrees at the AA.
Doctoral candidates registered with another institution wishing to undertake a period of research at the AA must follow the procedure described for applicants online. The maximum period of study as a visiting doctoral student is one academic year, for which the school’s tuition fees will apply pro-rata. Applications by scholars with post-doctoral or equivalent qualifications wishing to do research related to any of the AA’s postgraduate programmes are considered subject to their relevance to the AA’s current research interests. Tuition fees may apply.