Architecture - PhD

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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.


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.

Entry requirements

A minimum 2.1 honours degree, plus a Master’s degree or MArch in architecture or an appropriate subject, or equivalent track record and professional experience in architecture.

As part of your application you are required to provide a CV and a detailed research proposal which should include the following

  • have a suggested title
  • be clearly written and demonstrates engagement with an area in one of the two Research Centres of the School
  • demonstrates originality
  • the proposed methodology
  • timescale (FT PhD's are expected to be completed within three years)
  • bibliography

If you have a preferred supervisor, please do state that in the application.


All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


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Course structure

Duration: 3 to 4 years full-time, 5 to 6 years part-time


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

  • Home full-time TBC
  • EU full-time £18600
  • International full-time £18600
  • Home part-time TBC
  • EU part-time £9300
  • International part-time £9300

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.

Additional costs

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.

Search scholarships

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Architecture, Built Environment and Planning research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for environment. 

Following the REF 2021, Architecture, Built Environment and Planning at Kent was ranked 6th in the UK in the Times Higher Education.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF, with over 90% of our outputs and 88% of our research classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent'.


Research areas

Research centres

KSAP incorporates the Centre for Research in European Architecture (CREAte), which focuses on research in architectural humanities and design, the Centre for Architecture and Sustainable Environment (CASE), which promotes research in the field of sustainable architecture, and the new Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC), which researches the use of digital technologies in architecture and the built environment.


The Centre provides a focus for research in architecture in the European context. Its emphasis is on the role and contribution of humanities to architecture and urban design in the context of urban and regional regeneration, nationally and internationally.

CREAte provides a platform for evening lectures by contemporary architects and scholars; hosting debates and events that are in the heart of architectural agenda of today.

The Centre builds upon its staff specialisms, interests and skills in the following areas: regional studies, contemporary architectural and urban theory and design, architectural history and theory (ranging from antiquity to contemporary European cities), sustainability, European topographies (landscape, urban, suburban and metropolitan) etc. Staff participate in the activities of AHRA – Architecture Humanities Research Association and are internationally published authors.


The Centre promotes research in the field of sustainable environment regionally, nationally and internationally.

Its research focus encompasses different aspects and scales of the sustainable built environment from the individual building to the urban block, promoting the wider environmental agenda and keeping the School at the forefront of research and development in the field. CASE also pursues research into the historical and cultural dimension of environmental design to foster links between the sciences, arts and humanities. There is a strong interest in understanding the environmental behaviour of historic buildings and the strategies originally deployed to manage the internal environment.

The Centre has already secured funding from various sources. This includes three EPSRC projects on climate change weather data for a sustainable built environment, sustainability of airport terminal buildings and design interventions in the public realm for affecting human behaviour, and two TSB-funded projects on Building Performance Evaluation. CASE is also involved with the recent EPSRC large-scale network on Digital Economy Communities and Culture.


The Centre is the newest research centre at Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) in the application of digital technology in architecture. The focus of the Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC) will be the creative use of digital technologies to enhance design and fabrication possibilities for architecture and the built environment.

The centre will have three streams headed by members: 1) Generative design and computational creativity, 2) Digital fabrication and robotics and 3) Digital visualisation and mixed reality.

DARC will promote an innovative interdisciplinary research environment exploring intersections between architecture and digital technologies, to open up and expand the schools research agenda and funding possibilities. The new research centre will promote a fundamental shift in architecture and design thinking to develop design methods for the utilisation of computational technologies in architectural design, fabrication and assembly.

The centre is a new interdisciplinary direction for KSAP, founded on members' expertise and international research profiles to open up new avenues of research activity. The centre draws on university-wide contacts and expertise, and attracts additional expertise, knowledge and research in the field of digital architecture through existing and future collaborations, adding to its high quality research output, and looks to enhance the faculty's Digital Humanities theme, principally in the areas of Digital Creative Arts and Digital Heritage.

Study support

Kent School of Architecture and Planning supervisors include: Professor Gerald Adler, Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou, Dr Peter Bus, Dr Silvio Caputo, Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt, Dr Richard Watkins, Dr Tim Ireland, Dr Manolo Guerci, Dr Nikolaos Karydis and Dr Giri Renganathan.

Staff are active in research and give papers at conferences nationally and internationally.

Postgraduate resources

The School of Architecture and Planning studios include a dedicated computing suite with a range of environmental construction software, and a Digital Crit Space. There is a fully equipped architectural model-making workshop for constructing models and large-scale prototypes.

Professional links

The School has excellent contacts with businesses and culture in the local area, including regional organisations such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Kent County Council and European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE). The Sustainable Communities Plan is particularly strong in south-east England, making the region the ideal place in which to debate innovative solutions to architectural issues.

Kent also has excellent links with schools of architecture in Lille, Istanbul, Rome, Venice,  and in the USA, Virginia.

Academic study is complemented by a mentoring scheme organised in collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and involving students in events with local practices.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Architectural Research Quarterly; The Architectural Review; Building and Environment; The Journal of Architecture; The World of Interiors; 'Journal of the Society of Antiquaries'; and 'Architectural History'.


Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

Apply now

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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Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PhD at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896


Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 824689



International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254