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MPhil/PhD Programme


Programme Head: Pier Vittorio Aureli
Staff: Mark Campbell, Chittawadi Chitrabongs, Mark Cousins, Jorge Fiori, Murray Fraser, Fabrizio Gallanti, Maria Giudici, George Jeronimidis, Marina Lathouri, Mark Morris, Joan Ockman, Michael Weinstock, Simos Yannas, Thanos Zartaloudis

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

The Open University Student's Guide

Regulations for validated awards of the Open University
Graduate School Appeals Procedure
Graduate School Complaints Procedure
Safeguarding Policy

Programme site

Projects Review 2019


Postgraduate Admissions Team AA School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

T: 020 7887 4067 / 4007

Links & Downloads


Prospectus 2019-20
AA Prospectus

Postgraduate Prospectus
Postgraduate Prospectus


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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.