Postgraduate PhD


Architects and the designers of our surroundings are the driving force behind the design of our built environment. Whether they are designing new buildings, giving a new lease of life to existing ones, developing urban spaces and landscapes, or determining the energy use and resilience to a changing climate, architects have a profound influence on our lives.

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The Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) offers full-time and part-time research programmes, leading to a PhD. The School promotes innovative and interdisciplinary research, which focuses on four main areas:

  • Sustainability, biodiversity and climate change
  • Urban design and planning
  • Architectural conservation and heritage
  • History, theory and philosophy of architecture.

A PhD, which typically last between 3 to 4 year full-time, and 5 to 6 years part-time, offers candidates the space to conduct original research within their area of interest. It also offers practicing architects, engineers or planners to undertake research relating to their work in industry practice.

A particular feature of PhD programme at KSAP is the wide spectrum of investigation and the possibility of undertaking research that is bridging the gap between academia and the world of industry, government or civil society. PhDs are not only essential for those pursuing a career in academia, but also offers the practitioners to develop areas of expertise, or to acquired the knowledge and skills required to facilitate innovation within the context of practice.

PhD students are part of the KSAP Graduate School and will take part in weekly seminars for research students, and in an annual research symposium. Each PhD student has two supervisors, and the staff profiles on the KSAP website give summaries of the range of expertise and research interest held within the school. They are active researchers and many are leading scholars in their field. They also have experience of collaborating with experts in other schools within and outside the University of Kent in supervising inter-disciplinary research, as well as managing projects that involve partnerships with industry or government, with many PhD students being linked with live projects.

What our students say: “Doing a PhD as a cotutelle between Kent and Lille architectural labs has been a challenging but also intellectually rewarding experience. The main challenge for me is trying to understand what the end product looks like as every thesis and the training you undertake for it is different. But my research is about standards and I now fully understand how complicated they can be in all walks of life. Even more than a century ago, buildings were designed individually and depended on personal tastes. How on earth could society normalise them? The same answer applies to doing my PhD at Kent. We are diverse specialist researchers with many, sometimes conflicting, interests. But collectively we find solutions to complex problems. That’s our other big speciality!” -Nick von Behr

About Kent School of Architecture and Planning

Research at Kent School of Architecture and Planning achieves excellence in both the history and theory of architecture. We produce innovative and interdisciplinary research that aims to influence behaviour in the field of architecture for the benefit of future generations.

Following the most recent Research Excellence Framework, in which 88% of our research and 100% of our research environment was judged to be world-leading or internationally-excellent, Architecture, Built Environment and Planning at Kent was ranked 6th for research quality in the Times Higher Education.

Our academic staff have made significant contributions to real-world applications. Professor Henrik Schoenefeldt was appointed to lead a refurbishment of the ventilation system at the Houses of Parliament, and Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou's research into outdoor thermal comfort has influenced understanding of the topic across the world.

Much of the project work involved in KSAP is located on 'live' sites in the local region, using real clients and engaging challenging issues. Students in all stages of the school have been introduced to real urban and architectural design challenges in Lille, Margate, Folkestone, Dover, Rye, Chatham and, of course, Canterbury. Much of this work involves liaising with external bodies, such as architects, planners, council and development groups.

Fees and funding

The 2024/25 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • UK
  • International
  • UK
  • International

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:


We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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Next steps

Ready to apply?

Applications are considered throughout the year, though typically enrolment occurs in September or January.
You will need two academic references before your application can be considered. References must come directly from the referee, and should not be forwarded by the applicant themselves.
Please also submit a thorough and well-presented proposal.
Your research proposal will be forwarded to one of our two research centres: The Centre for research in European Architecture, which specialises in the history, theory and practice of architecture and urban design; or to CASE, the Centre for Architecture and Sustainable Environment. We recommend taking a look at your proposed Centre’s website and showing, in your proposal, how your work will link with that of the Centre you choose. If you have proposed supervisor in mind, please state this in your application.
Your application must include a proposal of about 500 words that makes at least brief reference to a number of key points:

  • Your research questions
  • Your proposed research methods
  • The background to your research and current work in the field
  • Your suggested schedule of work, in outline
  • Your proposed contribution to the work of our research centre environment
  • A bibliography of existing texts in the field of your proposed research

We welcome applications in the field of research through design, for example from practising architects, designers, and artists.
Best wishes and good luck with your application, The Director of Graduate Studies and the Postgraduate Admissions Team

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

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We are here to support your postgraduate journey.

Top 50

Kent ranked top 50 in The Complete University Guide 2024.

Fees and funding

Support for funding so you can focus on your studies.

Research excellence

Kent has risen 11 places in THE’s REF 2021 ranking, confirming us as a leading research university.


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