Research degrees in Architecture, Design and the Built Environment (MPhil, PhD)

Nottingham Trent University

For more information about Research degrees in Architecture, Design and the Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University, please visit the webpage using the button above.

The award
MPhil, PhD

How long you will study
4 - 8 years

Domestic course fees
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How you will study

Course starts
January, October, April, June

International course fees
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All study options

About Research degrees in Architecture, Design and the Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University

Our PhD and MPhil courses offer the opportunity to carry out a significant body of research, in a discipline related to the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment. As part of the application process, you'll submit a research proposal, and we'll work to match your themes, objectives and scope to a member of our broad academic team. You'll join a thriving community of postgraduate researchers, based at our City Campus.

Who is this course designed for?

Our PhD and MPhil routes are suitable for professionals working in a related industry; we offer a part-time as well as the full-time study route, enabling you to fit study around employment. The expected length of your studies will extend according to how much time you commit to your research.

The PhD and MPhil routes are also suitable for high-achieving honours (undergraduate) graduates, enabling those who complete an undergraduate qualification to pursue a route into postgraduate research. This opens up opportunities for significant career progression, and is a route into employment in academia.

Why study this course?

  • Our flexible study options support part-time learners, who wish to balance employment with further study. Significant academic support and guidance is in place to help students returning to study after extended periods in employment, and students who are pursuing high-level study for the first time.
  • Benefit from our industry-standard facilities in our Maudslay building. You'll be allocated desk space, and have hands-on access to our workshops and laboratories, supported by our team of expert technicians
  • You'll have a team of academic support staff to help focus your research and prepare for key milestones throughout your studies. You'll have regular meetings and be allocated time with your lead supervisor, and a small team of co-supervisors, benefiting from their academic expertise, active research, links to industry and significant experience of working in practice.
  • Take part in a series of professional researcher training seminars through our NTU Doctorate Plus Programme.This combines general research training with specific topics, associated with your discipline. The training focuses on the requirements of external research funding bodies and government requirements. We also provide a structured programme of transferable skills training and career development. This is informed by the work of Vitae, the national organisation which supports researchers throughout their careers.
  • Study at a university with an outstanding reputation for producing world-leading research. In 2015, we were awarded the prestigious Queens Anniversary Prize, a scheme which recognises and promotes world-class excellence and achievement in universities and colleges in the UK. In the most recent Research Excellent Framework 2014, 90% of our research was judged to be 'world-leading', 'internationally excellent', or 'internationally-recognised'.
  • Gain inspiration and meet other researchers by attending our series of inaugural lectures. Running throughout the academic year, inaugural lectures are an opportunity hear from world-leading researchers and prestigious leaders in their field.
  • Benefit from peer-to-peer learning by joining a community of postgraduate researchers, based at our City Campus. You'll share desk space and facilities, enabling cross-discipline working and sharing of research. Our research students benefit from becoming student ambassadors or course representatives, and a structured series of research seminars further consolidates the course community.
  • Apply for our comprehensive offering of studentships and research bursaries, to support you financially while you study.

You may also be interested in

For more information about how our research courses compare with one another, and how they compare with our postgraduate taught courses, take a look at our information on choosing the right postgraduate course for you.

How you're taught

There are three key stages to a PhD or MPhil degree course. Your progression through the course depends on your success at each stage, and how long you prepare to meet the assessment criteria for each milestone.

Stage one: Preparing your research proposal

You'll spend the first 6 months (full-time) - 1 year (part-time) of your PhD/MPhil preparing your research proposal. This is where you outline the scope of your research project and identify exactly how you propose to contribute new knowledge and ideas to the built environment. During this time, you'll read widely and become aware of existing research in your field of interest, enabling you to identify areas where you contribution and progress can be made.

Stage two: Preparing for your transfer stage

Once your research proposal is passed, you'll work towards the transfer stage. For the transfer report, you'll produce a substantial document identifying what it is about your research that will add new knowledge to the field of the built environment. Establishing  a novel perspective and clearly articulating a new contribution will set you on a path to a PhD. It's at the transfer stage where you may opt - or be advised - to pursue an MPhil award. The MPhil is still a research-based degree, however there is less of a requirement to contribute new, novel research to the field.

Stage three: Viva voce examination

The time between stage two and stage three varies significantly between students. Between stage two and three, you'll be 'writing up' - this is where you produce your PhD or MPhil body of research, assisted by the advice of your supervisory team, working within the established and agreed parameters of your research proposal. You'll read widely, experiment in our facilities, travel to sites or other universities to pursue further study, and work with our academic team to push the boundaries of your research further. Once you've fully completed your body of research, you'll work towards your final milestone - the viva voce examination.

The exam takes the format of a panel meeting, whereby a team of assessors will choose areas of your research to ask further, more detailed questions about. You'll be expected to talk widely and with authority on the research you've undertaken, further evidencing your expertise in the field. The viva voce is the last step in your PhD/MPhil before graduation. There are several outcomes, which include a straight pass, or advised corrections - with varying degrees of amends to be made. If you are required to make corrections, you could be working on your research piece for up to another twelve months, before re-taking the viva voce exam. A pass at this stage will result in graduation and a PhD/MPhil award.

Careers and employability

Your career development

All our research degrees incorporate a programme of supporting studies designed to develop knowledge and skills of all aspects of the research process, including the funding and dissemination of research. This will ensure that you have the necessary expertise to successfully complete your doctoral programme.

Participation in academic conferences, seminars and external networks will cultivate contacts, skills and knowledge essential for successful research practice. These abilities are also transferable to a wide range of other careers. Researchers are also invited to take part in our own Research Conferences giving you the opportunity to present your work and discuss with other researchers at NTU.

Support with your career development

As a research student at NTU, you'll benefit from:

  • The opportunity to apply for a £600 bursary to support you for three years, helping you to meet costs for field work and conferences.
  • Access to a free researcher development programme through our internal Organisational Development department.

Pursuing a career in academia

There are opportunities for research students to prepare for an academic career by teaching undergraduate students or supervising laboratory work. Our Organisational Development team offer an Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education training programme, providing the knowledge and skills needed to pursue academic teaching.


Facilities for research students

As a research student at NTU, you'll benefit from:

  • An allocated desk, a PC (with on-site IT support) and storage;
  • Access to a printer specifically for use by research students;
  • Provision of free stationary to meet your requirements.

To view our facilities in detail, follow the links below.

Dedicated resource centre

Students in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment have access to a dedicated resource centre. This centre, based in the Maudslay building, enables students to undertake private study in a facility equipped with computers, large format plotters and desk space, together with the latest, and archived, journals and publications.

This resource centre is open from 8 am to 8 pmMonday to Friday.

Alongside our resource centre, you will be allocated desk space alongside other research students studying related disciplines.

IT resources

Our IT resource rooms and PC clusters are distributed across the City Campus, with PCs providing access to Microsoft Office, email, web browsing, networked file storage, and high-speed online printing services (with a free printing allowance for each student). Resource rooms are available 24 hours a day.

Books and library resources

In the library, you will have access to an extensive and diverse range of books and periodicals that focus on specialist areas within the Built Environment. The library's OneSearch system provides access to all our electronic resources, journals and books.

You'll also benefit from a liaison librarian, who has specialist subject knowledge. They can offer detailed help in finding and using print and electronic resources and also support on things such as Harvard referencing and research skills.

Study options for this course

Entry requirements

Contact Nottingham Trent University to find course entry requirements.

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