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PhD opportunities

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design PhD Opportunities

PhD study within the Birmingham School of Architecture & Design sits within the Faculty of Arts, Design & Media doctoral research college. We carry out research across the scales of designed environment disciplines that we offer in the School, from landscape architecture through to product design. Research is typically situated within our internationally recognised Urban Cultures research cluster and the multidisciplinary research, design and consultancy hub CATiD (Critical Artistic Thinking in Design). We see design as a way of finding things out and value practice as a route toward PhD study. We are interested in research with application to real world situations alongside more speculative experimental propositions and are particularly supportive of interdisciplinary practice.

We offer a range of PhD routes and welcome original research undertaken through a written format thesis and/or creative practice-led research. Our PhD opportunities will be of particular interest to architects, landscape architects, interior architecture and design practitioners and product designers who have developed their practice to a high level. It will also be a valuable pathway for Masters level graduates both from BCU and other institutions nationally and internationally.

A PhD in the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design offers you the opportunity for personal development, to celebrate, reflect on and further develop your practice and research, and to further develop your career. The programme supports you to develop critical thinking and research skills through the PGCert in Research Practice. All routes will require you to conduct a piece of unique PhD research, submit a thesis for examination and sit an oral exam (viva voce) in which you defend your thesis before a panel of experts.

Practice-led PhD

Are you exploring an original or significant idea, theory or practice to a high level but find the thought of writing a traditional thesis daunting? The practice-led PhD is aimed at practitioners from product design to architecture to landscape and urbanism wishing to develop their creative practice through an independent  practice-led research project. This route offers the opportunity to enhance your own practice while embedded in the workplace through a sustained period of study on a proposed project of your own design. A substantial part of your thesis may be original creative outputs, for example an artefact, exhibition, performance or design (such as a building, landscape, product, interior etc). This is complemented by a rigorous written commentary setting the study within a broader practice, historical and conceptual field.

Written format PhD

Do you want to develop advanced knowledge or expertise in a specific research area? The written format PhD is a programme of independent self-directed academic research which makes an original and rigorous contribution to knowledge in the form of a written and illustrated thesis. The research may take the form of social, historic or theoretical research and could use qualitative and/or quantitative methodologies. This route offers you the opportunity to develop advanced knowledge and expertise led by your research interests enabling you to further your career in an academic or professional environment. You will be encouraged to attend and present your work at conferences, symposia and professional events appropriate to your discipline areas. Your thesis will take the form of an (up to) 80,000 word illustrated written document.

Modes of study

Our PhD programmes are offered full-time (typically 3-4 years) and part-time (typically 4-7 years). We do also consider proposals for part-time distance learning. These modes of study ensure that we can create a suitable PhD research plan around your lifestyle needs, even if you are in full-time employment.

Current PhD candidates

  • Soha Alzaid: The history of Ka’ba and its representation in different artworks: the case study of silk screen printing.
  • Wenbo Deng: Influences of urban textures and architectural forms in contemporary sculptural ceramic practice: dialogues of contemporary urban living between objects, makers and audience.
  • Jenny Peevers: What is the importance of memory and personal attachment to places and how does this impact on sense of belonging and sense of place?
  • Emma Collett
  • Michael Dring
  • Joseph Hawkins
  • Maya Jaber
  • Yifeng Liao
  • Azam Meidangahi
  • Peter Osborne
  • Martha Lopez
  • Rowan Watson

Find out more

Further information about study, funding and application for a PhD at BCU is available from the Faculty of Arts Design and Media’s Art & Design PhD page. For an informal discussion about the Architecture & Design PhD programme and potential funding routes at Birmingham City University, please contact:

  • Prof Rachel Sara (Oscar Naddermier Professor of Architecture, Urban Cultures cluster lead)
  • Dr Jieling Xiao (Research Degrees Coordinator, Urban Cultures cluster lead)