The Bartlett School of Architecture's MPhil/PhD Architectural History & Theory programme allows students to conduct an exhaustive piece of research into an area of their own selection and definition. Great importance is placed on the originality of information uncovered, the creativity of the interpretations made, and the rigour of the methodological procedures adopted.
Approximately 20-30 students from around the world are enrolled at any one time for MPhil/PhD research in this field. The range of research topics undertaken is broad, but most explore the history and theory of architecture and cities from c. 1800 to the present day, with an emphasis on the critical reading of these subjects from cultural, political and experiential viewpoints.
The Bartlett is a major centre for research of the Built Environment and was ranked first in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in Architecture and the Built Environment. The MPhil/PhD Architectural History & Theory programme draws on the expertise and experience of the Bartlett School of Architecture's team of architectural historians and theorists, who are recognised internationally for their contributions to the field.
The programme itself is very dynamic with an active series of talks, seminars, and conferences which students are expected to attend. In keeping with UCL's multi-disciplinary ethos, connections between architectural research and other fields are encouraged, and there are active collaborations with the Departments of Anthropology, Fine Art and Geography, and UCL Urban Lab.
See here for more information on the full range of programmes, research, news and events connected with architectural history & theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture.
For queries concerning the programme, please contact:
- Dr Barbara Penner (Programme Director)
- Dr Penelope Haralambidou (Programme Coordinator)
- Thomas Mole (Programme Administrator)
For queries regarding the applications procedure, eligibility (including language proficiency), part-time and remote study, fees, timescale, obtaining referees, etc., please contact:
- Annabel Brown (Graduate Faculty Clerk)
Once accepted into the programme, students are at first registered as MPhil candidates, but after one year are expected to upgrade to PhD status. Part-time students are expected to upgrade within two years. Fulltime students are normally expected to complete their PhD within three to four years; part-time students, five to seven years. This may include either one year (for full-time students) or two years (for part-time students) Completing Research Status (CRS). With permission, some of this period may also be spent outside the United Kingdom. The research is normally presented as a 100,000-word text with illustrative material. However, there is scope under UCL regulations for flexibility in the formal presentation of theses as appropriate to the individual research project.
The MPhil/PhD Architectural Design and Architectural History and Theory programmes jointly run a series of events which all students are expected to attend. They are:
Research Conversations: Fortnightly work-in-progress seminars for new MPhil/PhD students. MPhil students also present more in-depth seminars to meet the criteria for upgrade to PhD status.
Research Projects: Annual
PhD conference and exhibition with invited critics as respondents, organised by
the Bartlett School of Architecture with the Slade School of
Fine Art. Critics have included:
- Professor Hugh Campbell, University College Dublin
- Professor Steven Connor, Birkbeck College, University of London
- Professor Mark Dorrian, University of Newcastle
- Professor Tony Dunne, Royal College of Art
- Professor Penny Florence, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena
- Sean Griffiths, FAT
- Dr Felipe Hernandez, University of Cambridge
- Dr Lorens Holm, University of Dundee
- Professor Rolf Hughes, Konstfack University College of the Arts, Craft and Design, Stockholm
- Dr Mark Morris, Cornell University
- Dr Sharon Morris, UCL Slade School of Fine Art
- Professor Mette Ramsgard Thomsen, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art School of Architecture
- Professor Leon van Schaik, RMIT University
A series of Bartlett publications cover the annual PhD Research Projects conferences. Each book includes texts and visual material by research students
following one of the two doctoral programmes at the Bartlett School of
Architecture (MPhil/PhD Architectural Design or MPhil/PhD Architectural History & Theory) or the practice-related MPhil/PhD programme at the Slade School of
Fine Art, UCL. These publications are available for purchase through Nadia O'Hare at the Bartlett School of
All students have the option of auditing modules on the MA Architectural History course run by Professor Adrian Forty.
Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the variety of skills development courses run by the UCL Graduate School and the Language Centre. In particular, students are advised to follow the workshop The Creative Thesis, run in conjunction with the Slade School of Fine Art, which is tailored to practice-led research.
The MPhil/PhD Architectural History and History programme draws upon the full range of expertise offered by the Bartlett School of Architecture's professors and lecturers working in the field.
Principal supervisors in the programme currently include:
Professor Peter Bishop
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Dr Ben Campkin
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Other current doctoral supervisors include Dr Victor Buchli (UCL Anthropology), Dr Julio Davila (Development Planning Unit), Dr Ruth Mandel (UCL Anthropology), Dr Penelope Haralambidou.
The programme has an international student body with, on average, half of its students from overseas. A large number of students are funded by their home governments or by UCL, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) and other funding bodies such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) or Fulbright.
Students have been short-listed for Outstanding PhD Thesis in the RIBA President's Award for Research, and in 2010 Dr Victoria Perry won the award for her dissertation A Bitter-Sweet Heritage: Slavery, Sugar and The Sublime, supervised by Professor Adrian Forty.
Beech - Constructing Everyday Life: An Architectural History of the South Bank in Production, 1948-1951
Jennifer Beningfield - The Frightened Land: Politics, Land and Landscape in Twentieth Century South Africa
Anne Bordeleau - Memory and Exercises in Building and Thinking: Architecture, History, Time and Memory
Willem de Bruijn - Book-Building: a Historical and Theoretical Investigation into the Alchemical Practice of Architecture
Lilian Chee - Subject to Encounter Writing in the Excesses of Architecture or, Three Constructions around a Hotel
Nic Coetzer - The Production of the City as a White Space: Representing & Reconstructing Identity and Architecture, Cape Town, 1892-1936
Denison - Architecture and the landscape of modernity in China up to 1949
Yi-Chih Huang - Architecture, Space and National Identity: Modern Architecture in Taiwan, 1895-2008
Hultzsch - An archaeology of perception: verbal descriptions of architecture in travel writings
Josie Kane - 'A Whirl of Wonders!': British Amusement Parks and the Architecture of Pleasure, 1900-1939 (short-listed, RIBA Presidents Award for Research 2008- Outstanding PhD Thesis)
Kemas Ridwan Kurniawan - The Architecture and Urbanism of Indonesian Tin Mining: a Colonial and Postcolonial History with Particular Reference to Mentok-Bangka
Shih-yao Lai - The Making of the City Image: Architecture and the Representations of New Shanghai in China’s Reform Era
Tat Lam - Linked Hybrid in Beijing: Placing an American Building and its Architectural Concept in its Chinese Context
Rebecca Litchfield - (Re)Imaging Los Angeles: Five Psychotopographies in the Work of Steve Erickson
Yat Ming Loo - City of the Non-Descript: Post-Colonial Architecture and Urban Space in Kuala Lumpur (short-listed, RIBA Presidents Award for Research 2008- Outstanding PhD Thesis)
Sandy McCreery - Turnpike roads and the Spatial Culture of London, 1756-1830
Christina Malathouni - The Fourth Dimension of Space in the Architecture of the American Claude Bragdon (1866–1946) and the Dutch Theo van Doesburg (1886–1931)
S. H. Iradj Moeini - The Ethics of Information-Age Architectural Design
Miho Nakagawa - The Production of Multi-Layered Space in the Japanese City and its Architecture: Tokyo, 1950-2000
Jonathan Noble - White Skins, Black Masks: Public Architecture in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Paskins - The Social Experience of Building Construction Work in and Around Paris During the 1960s
Victoria Perry - A Bitter-sweet Heritage: Slavery, Sugar and the Sublime (Winner, RIBA President's Award for Research 2010, Outstanding PhD Thesis)
Aslihan Senel - Unfixing Place: A Study of Istanbul through Topographical Practices
Sant Suwatcharapinun - The Space of Male Prostitution in the City of Bangkok
Léa-Catherine Szacka - Exhibiting the post-modern: three narratives for a history of the 1980 Venice architecture biennale
Sotirios Varsamis - Spatial Palindromes / Palindromic Spaces: Spatial devices between Literature and Architecture in the works of Stephane Mallarme, Georges Perec, Daniel Libeskind
Shirley Wong - The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Headquarters Buildings (1886, 1935, 1986): a Historical Analysis of Colonialism and Architecture
Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships
For information, please see the UCL Graduate Application and Entry page.
Programme-specific information follows below.
Graduate students who wish to present their research at international conferences at home and abroad may apply for financial support through the UCL Graduate School Student Conference Fund and the Bartlett's Architectural Research Fund (ARF).
Graduate students may also apply to the UCL Graduate School Research Projects Fund and the ARF to defray the research-related costs.
UK and EU students are eligible to compete for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awards. A separate application is not required for this award. Students who wish to apply need to ensure that the Bartlett Graduate Faculty Office receives their UCL application generally by mid-January. The UCL application form must indicate that applicants wish to apply for an AHRC studentship. In a separate communication, applicants should also inform the director of the programme to which they are applying that they intend to apply for an AHRC studentship. For further details, see also here.
Bartlett students working in the field of Architectural History are eligible for Wolfson Scholarships. These are awarded to outstanding students who demonstrate the potential to make an impact on their chosen field. Wolfson Scholarships will be awarded solely on academic merit. A separate application is not required for this award. Students who wish to apply need to ensure that the Bartlett Graduate Faculty Office receives their UCL application by mid-January. The UCL application form must indicate that applicants wish to be considered for a Wolfson studentship. In a separate communication, applicants should also inform the director of the Architectural History & Theory programme that they would like to be considered for the award. For further details, see also here.
For currently enrolled students
Graduate students who wish to present their research at international conferences at home and abroad may apply for financial support through the UCL Graduate School Student Conference Fund and the Bartlett's Architectural Research Fund (ARF). Graduate students may also apply to the UCL Graduate School Research Projects Fund and the ARF to defray the research-related costs.
Students who are RIBA members may be eligible for support through the RIBA Research Trusts. See here.
The Bartlett-Canadian Centre for Architecture Collection Research Grant Programme
The Bartlett and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) have established a research grant partnership that enables Bartlett MPhil/PhD Architectural Design or Architectural History and Theory students to conduct research at the CCA's Library and Collections in Montreal, Canada, one of the world's leading centres devoted to the study of architecture. The Bartlett and the CCA will each contribute matched funding for stipends for up to four students per year to study at the CCA for a one-month period in the spring, summer or autumn term. (One month is the minimum period of the grant.) Students who are interested in being considered for this programme will need to make an application for a major award to the Bartlett Architectural Research Fund (ARF). There are two deadlines each year, one in March and one in October. For more information about the programme and past recipients, see here.
As well as enabling students to graduate from the MPhil/PhD Architectural History and Theory with expertise in a particular area, the programme aims to provide knowledge of historical and critical techniques that can be of use in researching and writing about any architectural subject.
Graduates of the course have gone on to pursue careers in a wide variety of fields, from architectural and design practice to curatorial positions. Many also carry on in academe. Recent graduates have taken up posts at the following establishments:
• Chiang-Mai University
• Istanbul Technical University
• National University of Singapore
• University of Brighton
• University of Cambridge
• University of Cape Town
• University of Indonesia
• University of Nottingham
• University of the West of England
• University of Westminster
• University of the Witwatersrand
• Waterloo University
The theses of graduates have been published as book chapters, refereed journal articles or as academic monographs. For example, see:
• Jennifer Beningfield, The Frightened Land (Routledge, 2006)
• Jonathan Noble, African Identity in Post-Apartheid Public Architecture: White Skin, Black Masks (Ashgate, 2011)
• Kemas Ridwan Kurniawan, Postcolonial History of Architecture and Urbanism: Power and Space of Indonesian Tin Mining in Bangka Island (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2012).
Forthcoming publications include books based on Sandy McCreery's 'Turnpike Roads and the Spatial Culture of London, 1756-1830 (Yale University Press) and Yat Ming Loo's 'City of the Non-Descript: Post-Colonial Architecture and Urban Space in Kuala Lumpur' (Ashgate).