The PhD Programme at the Architectural Association is a fulltime, three-year course that aims to train scholars and researchers in the fields of architectural history and theory, urban studies, and technology.

The ambition of the programme 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 their individual theses, candidates 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 and current candidates in a collective discussion.

PROGRAMME STRUCTURE
The programme is composed of a set of parallel activities that encourage and stimulate collective discussion among participants through thesis tutorials, seminars, end of term presentations and symposia.

TUTORIALS
Directors of Studies are available every week for tutorials and discussion regarding work-in-progress. Candidates are encouraged to be in constant contact with their Director of Studies in order to ensure the steady development of their thesis.

GUEST SEMINARS
Every month, participants will take part in a seminar hosted by the programme and delivered by an invited guest who will be asked to present their in-progress research. These seminars allow candidates to discuss with the guests a range of topics related to their work and to debate more general questions regarding methodology and positions on research as a project in an open forum.

END OF TERM PRESENTATIONS
At the end of each term, candidates present a portion of their in-progress thesis to a panel of invited critics. These presentations are a compulsory part of the programme and the submission of a completed draft section of the thesis is compulsory at the end of each year.

YEARLY SYMPOSIA
In collaboration with the candidates, the PhD Programme organises symposia devoted to specific topics with invited guests. Eventually, the proceedings of these events will be collated in the form of a book. Recent symposia have been held on the themes of ‘Domestic Frontiers’, ‘Architecture and Labour’ and ‘The Dom-ino Effect: on Le Corbusier’s Maison Dom-ino, 1914-2014’.

TEACHING
Candidates are encouraged to test their research by teaching in the Experimental, Diploma and Taught Postgraduate programmes at the AA. These training positions are offered in accordance with the policy issued by the PhD Committee.

VERIFICATION
At the end of each year, every candidate must present the results of his or her research as a draft manuscript. The PhD Committee will assess each candidate’s individual progress and active participation within the overall programme.

PRODUCTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The PhD Programme is meant to produce knowledge through a systematic and rigorous policy of print and online publication. A fundamental programme policy will be that each candidate’s end of year presentation will be delivered both orally and as a publishable document.

WHO WE SEEK
The PhD Programme at the AA is intended for researchers in architecture, urbanism and other subjects related to the built environment. Candidates must 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. Prospective researchers must all be able to support their hypothesis with a mature and coherent existing body of work in the field.

APPLICATION PROCESS AND MENTORING
In applying to the AA PhD programme, potential candidates choose their preferred Director of Studies. The PhD Committee – comprised of the Directors of Studies and Supervisors – evaluate all applications and select candidates for admission. Upon acceptance to the programme, candidates will prepare a thesis abstract, preliminary table of contents and bibliography that will be submitted to the Open University for registration. Each candidate is tutored by a Director of Studies and a Supervisor throughout the duration of the programme, monitored and evaluated by the PhD committee.

Staff

Architectural Association is approved by The Open University as an appropriate organisation to offer higher education programmes leading to Open University validated awards.

The Architectural Association (AA) has been granted the power to award its own degrees. Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards. Therefore, from September 2020 students admitted to the taught postgraduate programmes at the AA will be awarded AA degrees.

News

  • MA HCT & PhD Debates: History ‘in-translation’
    Marina Lathouri and Guest Speakers Debate 3 The Female Body Politic: Re-modelling The Book of the City of Ladies Guest speaker: Penelope Haralambidou Thursday 13 February | 4:00pm | 32 Bedford Square (First Floor Back)
  • PhD Lunchtime Talk: Matilde Cassani
    Celebration Days The spatial implications of cultural manifestations in the contemporary western urban context Friday 3 May 2019, 1:00-2:15pm, 33 FFF Since Baroque times a celebration has been an event that can be repeated more than once over time with the same rules but which starts in the same way and always ends in different […]
  • ‘What is Contemporary?’ – Conjuring with Ghosts (Geists): A Dialectical Fairy Tale
    History as Narrative of the Present (PhD seminar with Marina Lathouri and guest speaker Joan Ockman) Following on the seminar ‘What is Historical?’ in Term 1, discussions with guest speakers will take place this term. Continuing and expanding on the previous sessions, the theme is ‘What is Contemporary?’. For the first session on Thursday at 4:30pm […]
  • AHRA PhD Student Symposium
    The 2019 AHRA PhD Student Symposium will take place this year 24-25 April at the University of Manchester, UK. According to the event’s website, the ‘AHRA Research Student Symposium 2019 takes as its starting point a broad and prolonged transition occurring in architectural research during the past decade. New and interdisciplinary approaches emerge as a […]
  • AA PhD alumni commended in the RIBA President’s Awards for Research 2018
    In Dec 2018, AA PhD Alumni Dr. Jingru (Cyan) Cheng received a commendation from the RIBA President’s Awards for Research 2018 with her work titled ‘Care and Rebellion: The Dissolved Household in Contemporary Rural China’. This work is part of her PhD by Design thesis ’Territory, Settlement, Household: A Project of Rural China’ supervised by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Sam […]

PhD Projects