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.


  • HCT/PhD joint seminar on History
    On Friday 1st of December at 10:00am, seven PhD students will be presenting to the MA History and Critical Thinking students aspects of the work of seven historians, or better, seven modes of approaching and writing history. The emphasis will be put on the ways in which these have been significant in their own doctoral […]
  • Marina Lathouri: Dis-locutions, Architecture and the Political
    PhD Debates Marina Lathouri with visiting speakers / Term 2   The Debates, a joint MA History and Critical Thinking and PhD seminar, provide a venue for exchange of ideas and arguments. External speakers are invited every week, to position multiple voices and make possible a process of thinking in common, by definition a pedagogical […]
  • Michael Weinstock: The Scientific Method and Design Science
    16-18 October 2.00pm EmTech Studio The Scientific Method is an evolving set of procedures based on systematic observations and measurements, the formulation of ideas (hypotheses) and predictions from those observations that are tested by experiment, the subsequent modification of the hypotheses and further experimentation until there is no distance between the hypothesis, prediction and observed […]
  • Pier Vittorio Aureli, Maria S. Giudici: A Critical History of Domestic Architecture
    Architectural Association, London PhD Program ‘City/Architecture’ Fall Semester 2017   The seminar will focus on a critical history of domestic architecture from its origins to the present. Why we live in houses? Why has this become the predominant way of living? Why has the history of housing always been a history of crisis? Why has […]
  • Mark Cousins: PhD Research Methods
    This course is concerned to propose a sequence of tasks which deal very concretely with the practicalities of research. It is not a theoretical account of research but a detailed account of the issues that need to be considered and incorporated into the domestic engine of the work. The overall characterisation of PhD work as […]

PhD Projects