Architectural and Urban History and Theory MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

This programme allows you to conduct an exhaustive, original and creative piece of research into an area of your own selection and definition. The range of research topics undertaken is broad, but most explore the history and theory of architecture and cities between 1800 and the present day.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject, is essential. Exceptionally: where applicants have other suitable research or professional experience, they may be admitted without a Master's degree; or where applicants have a lower second-class UK Honours Bachelor's degree (2:2) (or equivalent) they must possess a relevant Master's degree to be admitted. We expect any successful application to include a sufficiently strong and convincing proposal, and those holding a Master's degree are typically well prepared to provide one. Relevant work experience is highly desirable.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The MPhil/PhD programme in Architectural and Urban History and Theory addresses the histories and theories of architecture, cities and landscape. It encompasses how these are affected by intellectual, social, economic, political and environmental contexts over time. The programme’s purpose is to educate candidates in history and theory, not as supplementary discourses to architectural, urban and landscape design, but as integral parts of these fields of knowledge, in past, current and future issues facing society. 

Candidates use a range of methods from field work and archival research to ethnographic and qualitative tools. They draw from the unique multi-disciplinary environment of The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and UCL’s departments, including, but not limited to, anthropology, political science, forensic science, literature, the fine arts, history of technology, environmental history and ecology. 

History and Theory doctorates at The Bartlett began in the years after Reyner Banham came to the school (then the School of Environmental Studies) in 1964 as Reader in Architectural History. The most celebrated of Banham's early students was Charles Jencks, whose 1969 thesis became the book ‘Modern Movements in Architecture’ (1973).

Who this course is for

Students are expected to be independent thinkers, in order to make an original contribution to knowledge and expand the disciplinary discourse in their field of inquiry. They should be reflective within the shifting boundaries of their discipline and the rapidly changing nature of the architectural profession, and aware of how these are affected by societal and institutional challenges.

What this course will give you

The Bartlett School of Architecture is one of the world's most exciting architecture schools, in one of its most inspiring cities. Our name stands for provocative ideas, boundary-pushing research and high-achieving lecturers and students.

We are a multi-disciplinary department with researchers active in architectural design, architectural history, urban studies and space syntax, who bring together approaches from the arts, humanities, social sciences and engineering to the study of architecture. 

91% of research at The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment has been deemed ‘World Leading’ and ‘Internationally Excellent’, and the faculty is number one for Research Power in the built environment (Research Excellence Framework 2021).

We offer specialisations in architectural and urban design, history and theory, criticism and technology, and place strong emphasis on innovative research across disciplinary boundaries. Our internationally renowned and award-winning design and research work is published and exhibited at galleries and events worldwide, helping our students become the most sought after in Europe. An inspiring programme of lectures and seminars by international academics and practitioners is supplemented by workshops and access to advanced digital fabrication tools. Our central London location makes us ideally placed for architectural education, research and practice, in close proximity to an exceptional concentration of built environment firms and related agencies.

The foundation of your career

Graduate study at The Bartlett School of Architecture is enriched by our contact with a vibrant community of specialist consultants and research associates in industry and academia.

Located in central London, we collaborate on projects with a variety of national and international research centres and public engagement institutions.

Our students also benefit from some of the most advanced and extensive facilities available in any similar faculty in Europe. This combination of networks, knowledge and technical expertise makes our graduates some of the most sought after in the world.


Our graduates find employment in a wide range of careers as built environment professionals including academia, government, public service, policy formation and media worldwide.


We provide an increasing number of networking opportunities for our students, including book launches and social events, lectures, collaborative projects and visits.

Teaching and learning

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) consists of a piece of supervised research, normally undertaken over a period of three years full-time.

Students have the option of auditing modules from Architectural History MA, subject to availability.

Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the variety of skills development courses run by the UCL Doctoral School  and the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education

Initially, you will be registered for the MPhil degree. If you wish to proceed to a PhD, you will be required to pass an 'Upgrade' assessment. The purpose of the upgrade is to assess your progress and ability to complete your PhD programme to a good standard and in a reasonable time frame. It is expected that a full-time student will attempt upgrade within between 9 and 18 months of registration.

Assessment is by means of a thesis, which should demonstrate your capacity to pursue original research based upon a good understanding of the research techniques and concepts appropriate to the discipline.

Primarily, you are expected to conduct independent research, with guidance and supervision. The programme places emphasis on a close one-to-one working relationship between you and your supervisor. Your Principle Supervisor will establish a timetable of regular meetings with you at which all matters relating to you work can be discussed.

Research areas and structure

Read about recent PhD student research projects on Issuu.

The research activities of our staff can be viewed on UCL’s Institutional Research Information Service.

Research environment

Supervision and mentorship is typically available from researchers with national and international contacts and collaborations across policy, government, industry and academic sectors. These links provide real opportunities to network and collaborate with a variety of external partners. You will usually have the opportunity to showcase your research at national and international conferences. You may lead your own networking initiatives such as the Bartlett Film, Place, Architecture Network, which organises seminars and workshops for staff and students. You will usually also gain access to networking events, career workshops and seminars held by the Bartlett School of Architecture.

The MPhil/PhD Architectural Design and Architectural and Urban History and Theory routes jointly run a series of events which you will be expected to attend. There are 'Research Conversations', fortnightly work-in-progress seminars and reviews for new MPhil/PhD students, and 'Research Projects', annual PhD conference and exhibition with invited critics as respondents, organised by the AUHT and AD programmes of The Bartlett School of Architecture.

You will be expected to undertake independent research, with supervision and guidance, and normally are also expected to attend structured courses to learn about research methods in the field.

This programme is intended to allow you to conduct an exhaustive, original and creative piece of research into an area of your own selection and definition. The range of research topics undertaken is broad, but most explore the history and theory of architecture and cities between 1800 and the present day.

You will be expected to undertake independent research, with supervision and guidance, and normally are also expected to attend structured courses to learn about research methods in the field.

This programme is intended to allow you to conduct an exhaustive, original and creative piece of research into an area of your own selection and definition. The range of research topics undertaken is broad, but most explore the history and theory of architecture and cities between 1800 and the present day.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035 £3,015
Tuition fees (2024/25) £28,100 £14,050

Route code RRDBARSAUH01

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

As a research student, your additional costs may include expenses such as books, conference attendance and field research, in the UK or overseas.

The Built Environment Faculty Office provides financial support to students through the Bartlett Student Conference Fund, Bartlett Doctoral Initiative Fund, Bartlett External Training Fund and Bartlett Extenuating Circumstances Fund. However, please note that these funds are limited and available through competition. 

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies.

In our faculty, The Bartlett Promise Scholarship aims to enable students from backgrounds underrepresented in the built environment to pursue PhD studies. Please see the UK PhD scholarship pages for more information on eligibility criteria, selection process and FAQs.

Any additional funding available from The Bartlett School of Architecture and the Built Environment Faculty Office are advertised on their respective websites.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Bartlett Promise PhD Scholarship

Deadline: 19 May 2024
Value: Full fees, plus £19,668 maintenance (Normal duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship (ROS)

Deadline: 12 January 2024
Value: UK rate fees, a maintenance stipend, conference costs and professional development package (3 years)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

Prospective MPhil/PhD applicants are encouraged to send an informal research enquiry before applying. This should be sent directly to the academic you would like to supervise you, or to or to the Programme Director, Professor Sophia Psarra ( Please refer to the staff list on the department website and see UCL's Institutional Research Information Service (IRIS) for staff profiles. Please attach to your e-mail a referenced research proposal of around 1,000 to 2,000 words and your curriculum vitae (CV).

Further details on how to apply to an MPhil/PhD can be found on the UCL Graduate Admissions website.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.