Research course

Architecture (Practice-based)

Loughborough University · School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Entry requirements

You will need to be a qualified practitioner architect with a minimum of three years of practice experience. Applications will proceed via submission of an outline of the topic and methodology, a digital portfolio of design work, as well an interview.

As the PhD will be situated in practice, several formal commitments will be required from the practice concerned. These include:

  • a commitment to allow the candidate to work on their research for a minimum of 500 hours per annum
  • a commitment to release the candidate for regular tutorials and crits
  • safeguards on the IP (Intellectual Property) of the resulting research if that research is done in collaboration with others in the practice.

You will also need to formally agree with the School on any extra financial contributions that might be required to deliver on the PhD, for example, materials required for manufacture or access to specialist laboratories or computation, and these will be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the topic.

Months of entry

January, April, July, October

Course content

One of four Royal Academy of Engineering designated Centres of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design, the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering is home to a thriving community of over 60 academic staff, 40 technical and clerical support staff and over 240 active researchers that include fellows, associates, assistants, engineers and doctoral students.

Our practice-based Architecture PhD programme is tailored for practitioner architects wishing to explore an original research topic while remaining in practice. Unlike some practice-related PhD models, our programme does not involve the submission of an extended piece of self-reflective commentary by an architect on their previous built work and designs. Instead of this passive approach, we take an active one, which involves:

  • an architect creating new, research-led work while in practice
  • critical reflection and analysis of this in written and practical form
  • presentation and defence of this work via the ‘design critiques’ typical of architectural pedagogy and practice.

This approach reflects the close alignment of theory and practice in LU-ARC, Loughborough's new architecture division and also reflects changes in RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) expectations, whereby practices are encouraged to build upon their design intuitions with original research that facilitates evidence-based design approaches.

The PhD will take the format of a written thesis of 40,000 words, as well as a substantial practical component. The practical component might take the format of contributions to the completion of a building project, hand-drawn or computerised visualisations (plans, elevations, sections, axonometrics, etc), virtual spaces, traditional hand-made models, 3D printed models, structural and material prototypes, mock-ups and installations. It is expected that a semi-public exhibition and discussion of the work should take place towards the end of the period of study. The formal examination, however, will consist of analysis and interrogation of the practical and written components in line with the standard viva-voce regulations and practise, and this will be conducted jointly by an internal academic referee, as well as an appropriately qualified external practitioner.

Information for international students

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Fees and funding

UK students
Dependent on start date. Please see website
International students
Dependent on start date. Please see website

Please see our website for a list of research degree funding and scholarships.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    72 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate Enquiries
+44 (0)1509 222611