Research course

History of architecture and design

Open University · Department of Art History

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.1 (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

The History of Architecture and Design research group brings together members of the Art History department engaged in architectural and design history, in the early modern and modern periods. The group shares a commitment to investigating the relationships between place, space and society as expressed historically through the built environment; it values design for interiors and urban and rural environments alongside a strong tradition of research on individual architects and buildings. The group has particular strengths in British architecture and design, and European modernism, and incorporates a strong set of interests in critical heritage studies for the uses of the material past in the present.

The group welcomes applications from potential students interested in pursuing these questions from the seventeenth century to the present day, and has experience in the supervision of both full- and part-time students through to completion. Although some of our students have already studied with the Open University, others join us from elsewhere.

Potential research projects

We welcome applications to study topics that complement our current research.

Current/recent research projects

Recently completed and current PhD/MPhil topics supervised by members of the group include those which enlarge knowledge of the construction and decoration of buildings, such as 17th-century masons and 18th-century wallpaper tradesmen in Britain, as well as designers of mosaics in 20th-century Italy. Students have also undertaken studies of work by key 20th-century architects, such as Le Corbusier and Sir Herbert Baker.

Potential supervisors

  • Emeritus Professor Tim Benton – modern architecture and design
  • Professor Elizabeth McKellar – 17th- and 18th-century British architecture and urbanism, including neo-Georgian and colonial architecture (18th–20th centuries)
  • Professor Gill Perry – synergies between modern art, visual culture and architecture
  • Dr Clare Taylor – history of the interior and designed objects (17th–20th centuries); history of collections and museums
  • Dr Susie West – 17th and 18th-century architecture and material culture; heritage studies

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months
part time
72 months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

+44 (0)1908 652479