Research is central to the study of architecture within the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). It motivates our intellectual and creative activities and underpins our collaborations with a range of important international and UK-based institutions. We actively promote interdisciplinary approaches to research in architecture.
Our expertise and interests range across the following areas:
Our focus includes conservation theory and history; urban conservation; conservation technology; and the challenges of bridging the gulf between heritage and new architecture.
We have particular strength in the history of architecture in Britain and the British colonial world (18th and 19th centuries); Germany, Central Europe and Russia; modernism in Europe, North America and Africa; Renaissance Italy; the history of landscape; the history of technology; the international history of mass housing and urban development; the theory and philosophy of architecture; the philosophy of place; and critical inquiry and methodology.
We focus on research in and through design, as informed by contemporary architectural and cultural theory; studio pedagogy; research-led teaching; and methodologies of urban research and fieldwork.
We have expertise in the spatial, social and philosophical implications of media; the relationship between computers and design practice; cognitive models of human-computer interaction; 3D modelling; mobile computing; the sonic environment; and e-commerce.
We offer expertise in lightweight steel structures; the building envelope; concrete construction; design and manufacturing; and sustainable design in both qualitative and quantitative senses, looking at environmental response, design theory, rural planning and user-centred solutions.
The MSc by Research programme comprises a compulsory research methods course, the choice of one optional course and a 20,000-word dissertation based on independent research.
The Master of Architecture (MArch) RIBA Part II course is a highly creative, research-led and professional two-year masters rooted in studio laboratories and driven by individual enquiry. The MArch course is prescribed by the ARB and validated by RIBA, giving exemption from RIBA Part II.
We are part of the vibrant range of arts and humanities courses that the university has to offer. Our distinct research-led approach filters through all aspects of this course, with rigorous inquiry fusing innovation, regulation and social commentary. This student-focused approach offers the opportunity for you to investigate your personal architectural agenda, developing your own critical position and design language prior to entry into the profession.
The studio laboratories are driven by tutors’ personal research agendas and all staff are actively engaged within this field of enquiry as academics or practitioners. The stimulating mix of practitioners and academics across the course builds conversations, with visiting lecturers and critics further feeding the dialogue. Recent visiting lecturers have included Neil Denari, Perry Kulper, Chris Thurlbourne, Michael Jemtrud, and our close links with practice ensure stimulating review panels. We place critical thought at our core and look forward to you joining the conversation.
We want you to emerge from the course as an assured designer, confident in your approach, ideals and aspirations and with the ability to communicate this to the wider world. Over the two years you will be challenged to define your own critical position, and evolve your personal language of design and representation. The course will assist you in this through a gradual deepening of understanding, and by providing you with the tools with which to critically reflect upon design strategies and to navigate the wider contemporary debate on architecture.
The design laboratories form the backbone to the course. The other individual elements of the course increasingly intertwine with this over the two years to provide a final systematic understanding of architecture as a holistic entity.
Year 1: Strategy
There are four elements of the course (modules) covered in the first year and these are organised such that you will only ever address two at any one time. Design forms the backbone of the year and is divided into two elements that run consecutively across the whole year. The third element, or module, is technology and this runs through the first half of the year and is then replaced by Humanities and Design Theory in the second half of the year.
Year 2: Integration
Year two is also formed of four elements (modules). Design encompasses the whole year in the form of the master thesis, with the technology and professional studies elements of the course plugging into this as the year progresses. Architectural humanities runs in the first term in the form of the Humanities Research Project. Once this is completed technology then takes its place in the course diagram and runs through to the end of the year integrating itself into the design proposal.
Making sure that what you learn with us is relevant, up to date and what employers are looking for is our priority, so courses are reviewed and enhanced on an ongoing basis. When you have applied to us, you’ll be told about any new developments through our applicant portal.
The course is centred around the studio and through this aims to reflect the nature of architectural practice. Teaching is rooted in problem-based learning, such as through critical studio briefs, and a research-based approach to problem solving. You will therefore be asked to critically engage with and reflect upon the subject matter, and to learn through your own research and enquiry. One-to-one tutorials, group discussions, seminars as well as lectures by academic staff and visiting practitioners all act to assist in evolving your ideas.
The studio laboratories are derived from the tutors’ own field of enquiry as academics or practitioners. You are given the opportunity to apply for the studio laboratory of your choice at the start of each academic year.
There are a range of studio laboratories to choose from each year, all of which explore different contemporary design research fields informed by the studio tutors’ current research. Each studio laboratory is supported by two tutors and has a dedicated studio space within which to conduct your explorations alongside fellow students from both years of the course.
On successful completion of the course you will have formed a systematic understanding of architecture, a critical awareness of current problems and a comprehensive understanding of techniques, methodologies and practice. This rigorous and critically engaged basis will form a solid foundation upon which to build your professional architectural career.