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The school provides a stimulating intellectual environment for research derived from its previously separate schools within the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester and the Manchester School of Art at the Manchester Metropolitan University.

Research entails a degree of maturity and self-determination and direction over and above that needed for postgraduate taught courses. This is not to say that research within the School is either undirected or of a solitary nature. Students participate in our graduate studies programme and benefit from involvement in research activities of the Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC). MARCís research aims to critically understanding the co-evolution of design and development strategies and socio-economic processes shaping architecture and cities. Our approach involves: the development and application of an interdisciplinary approach to researching architecture and its links to urban development, understanding technological innovation and urban change; analysing and integrating previously disconnected research fields - architecture and urban planning, the property sector, civil engineering and utilities industry, and stimulating collaborative, inter-disciplinary methodological approaches to understanding architecture and engaging with contemporary practice in a global context.

Our PhD/MPhil programme is intrinsically inter-disciplinary and is open to students with an interest in any aspect of architectural research including; sustainable urbanism, urban design and development, ecological and landscape design and the conservation and management of historic environments. We also encourage proposals for research by design.

Selecting a Research Topic

Research degree projects should be sufficiently limited in scope to be capable of being tackled within a reasonable time. While extensions are possible you should plan to complete the duration of full time study specified below, and this inevitably limits the scope of fieldwork if the work requires this, and the time that such work will take. An appropriate and manageable subject is a prerequisite to successful research. The area and the scope of the research area must therefore be defined as precisely as possible.

Topics on which academic staff currently welcomes PhD proposals include:

  • Understanding Buildings: Developing a Sociology of Architecture and Urban Development
  • Re-Interpreting Environmental Design: Theories, Discourses and Practices of Sustainable Architecture and Cities
  • Architecture and Urban Futures: Identifying Pathways of Urban Design and Development
  • Sensing the City: Architecture and Multi-sensory Environments
  • Small World: Scale in Architecture - Space is a Commodity


  • MPhil: 18 months full-time and 36 months part-time
  • PhD: 36 months full-time, 72 months part-time

Entry Requirements

Applicants are expected to have a First or Upper Second Class degree (or its international equivalent). Applicants for direct entry to the PhD are expected to have relevant postgraduate experience (generally a Masters degree). Students whose first language is not English require an overall IELTS score of at least 6.5 with no element below 6.0 or a TOEFL score of 91 (Internet Based Test) or acceptable equivalent.


Applications should be accompanied by an outline of the proposed research topic. It is difficult to make precise rules about the form this should take, but it may help if some statement of the present state of knowledge in the field is made first (this will in any case help us to identify the appropriate tutor). You should make clear the questions(s) you are asking and suggest briefly the methodology which you propose to adopt. You might like to consider what form you expect the results to take.

Find out more

Who should I contact?

Please contact either Eamonn Canniffe or Albena Yaneva for an informal discussion about your research interests.
+44 (0)161 247 6956
+44 (0)161 275 6900