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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Architecture and Urban Design is no longer accepting new applications.


Teaching is delivered through seminars, supported by individual supervisions. Students are also offered a series of studio sessions and hands-on workshops, offering support in research skills and techniques. Throughout the programme individual supervision is provided regularly to assist, direct and monitor progress.

Individual research activities, oral presentations and written essays encourage students to identify and solve problems, and are supported by regular feedback sessions and in supervisions. These strategies, particularly through specialist supervisions, are built upon when the student embarks on their independent dissertation research programme.

The weekly seminars, plus additional research workshops, provide a framework to explore a variety of research approaches from a range of relevant disciplines available in the Department. Students receive general seminars and specific guidance on research methods, the use of libraries, and writing techniques. An initial comprehensive bibliography is provided prior to the start of the course to allow students to begin their preparation. Upon arrival to Cambridge, the bibliography is supplemented by guidance on further reading in the seminars and supervisions. Guidelines on coursework essays and dissertations are given in general terms and more specifically in supervisions. Research methods, techniques and analytical skills are developed through the lectures and coursework.

The course is intense and demands effective time management.

One to one supervision

Students will be allocated a departmental supervisor during their first week who will support their academic progress for the duration of the course (two to three supervisions per term). Students can also expect weekly regular design supervisions, along with technical/specialist/critical review/ amongst other things.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

In addition to research skills seminars, students attend two two-hour weekly seminar courses for the first term and must elect to attend one four-week module during their second. They are expected to audit modules offered by other departments as appropriate for their projects.


Attending additional lectures is optional but students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of lectures offered in the Department and other faculties relevant to their research.


The course requires regular written, visual and oral presentations in the studio. Effective communication of research findings and design development are an important criterion in all areas of the students' work, and will be assessed at all stages.


At the beginning of the Easter term of their first year of study, students commence work on their approved programme of fieldwork and focus on their dissertation project.

During term, students receive monthly supervision to review the progress of field research and dissertation development and to review the fieldwork experience itself.

Students continue the development of their dissertation through their period in the field developing their research and theoretical background to their topic. Students submit updates and review work with supervisors on a monthly basis.


Students will be provided with feedback via studio days, supervisions, supervisor's termly reports and coursework feedback.


Thesis / Dissertation

The design thesis represents 60 per cent of the overall mark and consists of the following:

  • Written dissertation of not more than 15,000 words (20 per cent).  The word count includes footnotes but excludes the bibliography.  Any appendices will require the formal permission of the supervisor who may consult the Degree Committee. Students submit their dissertation for examination at the beginning of the Lent term of year two.
  • Design portfolio (40 per cent). Students submit their copy for examination in mid-June of year two.

Students present their design portfolio to examiners at an exam board held at the end of their second year.

The examination may, at the discretion of the Examiners, include an oral examination on the dissertation or on the general field of knowledge within which it falls.


Four essays (3,000–5,000 words) or other exercises, including footnotes and endnotes but excluding the bibliography, on topics approved by the course directors, will be presented for examination. The first three of these essays are submitted during year one; one at the beginning of the Lent term and two at the beginning of the Easter term. The remaining essay is submitted at the beginning of the Michaelmas term in year two.

The first essay constitutes an essay or equivalent (five per cent) and an oral presentation (five per cent), the second is a pilot study (ten per cent) and the third is a design submission (ten per cent). The final essay is a project implementation study (ten per cent). The essays and equivalent exercises contribute 40 per cent towards the final mark awarded.

Practical assessment

The course requires regular written, visual and oral presentations in the studio. Effective communication of research findings and design concepts are an important criterion in all areas of the students' work, and assessed at all stages.


A digital logbook (blog) of work and research carried out during the fieldwork period will be presented at the beginning of the Easter term of year two for assessment. The logbook is not awarded a mark.

Students undertake an assessment on delivered seminar content on topics related to professional practice at the end of the Lent term of year one.  This assessment is not awarded a mark but a satisfactory pass is a prerequisite of being awarded the MPhil Degree and ARB/RIBA Part  2 exemption.

Key Information

22 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Architecture

Course – related enquiries

Application – related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
Feb. 10, 2021
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2021

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2021
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2020

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2021, Lent 2022 and Easter 2022.

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