The MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (Projective Cities) seeks candidates with a high level of self-motivation and critical thinking, who have excellent design as well as English presentation and writing skills. The programme supports their individual research trajectories by offering an intense and personal study environment with an exceptionally low student-to-staff ratio. Students are provided with 2-3 individual tutorials a week in addition to regular group discussions, meetings, and workshops, while being part of small cohort of currently less than 8 students a year (giving a maximum of 16 students in the programme studying together). Unlike most other postgraduate programmes that specify research topics and work in groups, Projective Cities is for students wanting to develop their own original research. The MPhil is a taught stand-alone degree but also a structured programme that leads many into advanced PhD studies.
Projective Cities in the Architectural Association Graduate School is a post-professional programme and applicants must have completed a four or five-year degree in architecture (BArch, Diploma or equivalent degree). Preference is given to applicants with previous work and research experience. On successful completion of the 20 months full-time programme, candidates will be awarded an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design*.
As part of the entry requirement, candidates have to provide evidence of their final project(s) and paper(s) completed in fulfilment of their previous degree. A full year of study at, for example, BArch, Diploma or equivalent degree level will satisfy this requirement. Previous high academic achievement is a prerequisite to enter the programme, and it is recommended that candidates have work experience of at least 1-2 years.
Applicants must submit a portfolio consisting of around 40-50 pages (no larger than A3 format) that gives evidence of their previous learning (dissertation/degree work), as well as other relevant academic projects. In addition, but not as a substitution, professional practice work may be included. The portfolio should demonstrate the range of abilities and emphasise the design process and reasoning that has informed the work, i.e., should explain underlying research questions and the design development through study drawings/models, case-studies, texts, etc. Samples of writing in English, especially academic papers, should be send with the application where available.
A research proposal is not required at the application stage and will be developed during the first year of the programme. However a clear statement on why candidates have chosen the programme and why they consider themselves suitable should be given.
Further details on the application process, admission requirements, and fees are available from the Graduate School Admissions Coordinator. For any queries concerning the programme, please contact Sam Jacoby via the Graduate School Admissions Coordinator.
Graduate School Admissions Coordinator
Architectural Association School of Architecture
London WC1B 3ES
Tel: +44 (0)20 7887 4067
Fax: +44 (0)20 7414 0779
To submit an application, please follow the link: Online Application
For information on bursaries available from the AA, see AA Financial Aid. In order to be eligible to apply for a bursary, applicants must submit their application and portfolio no later than by the January deadline, stating their interest in an AA bursary in the ‘Finances and Funding’ section. Applicants who require an English language examination must also have passed one of the approved English language examinations listed on the AA website in order to be eligible for a bursary. The bursary application procedure will be explained once applicants receive an official offer.
International students are advised to look for available national scholarships. Past and present Projective Cities students have received funding from:
- AA Bursaries
- Becas Chile Scholarship Programme
- Becas de ‘la Caixa’ para estudios de posgrado en universidades europeas
- Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES)
- Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT)
- Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD)
- Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA)
All work in Projective Cities is individual but students have regular opportunities to discuss their work with their peers and staff from the programme as well as other post-graduate programmes. Everyone has a work space in the programme’s studio, enabling a close exchange between students from Year 1 and Year 2.
The student to staff ratio in Projective Cities is very low and students typically have 2-3 individual tutorials a week in addition to group seminars and workshops. The programme is very intense and personal, with intakes so far having been limited to up to 8 students per year.
All students also become an active part of the unique AA School in the centre of London, which was founded in 1847. A community of approximately 750 students and 250 teachers and staff make up the most international architecture school in the world. Every year nearly 90 per cent of its full-time students come to the AA from abroad to be part of a global debate and exchange of architectural ideas. Students are able not only to continuously interact with students and teachers from other parts of our school, but also with the unparalleled range of visitors and participants in the AA’s Public Programme, the world’s largest, year-long programme of public events – exhibitions, members’ events, lectures, seminars, conferences, book launches and publications – dedicated to contemporary architectural culture, the arts and design. In addition, London is a metropolis with a vast number of globally leading cultural and educational institutions with their own public programmes that are available to students at the AA.
A year after graduating from the Projective Cities programme, approximately 25% of students have successfully enrolled in a PhD programme, another 30% have started to work or teach in an academic environment and 45% have found work in design offices in the UK and abroad.
I was looking for a post-professional masters program that bridged architecture and urbanism. I wasn’t interested in computational design, which excluded many competing programs, and I felt one year seemed too short to do meaningful work, which excluded others. I eventually settled on Projective Cities due to the quality, rigour and variety that I found in the research projects online as well as the reputation of the AA.
For me, beginning Projective Cities was a bit like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. It’s an immensely challenging program that drops you in the deep end from day one, introducing you over the course of the first year to the full genealogy of ideas upon which the course is founded. It can seem overwhelming at first, particularly when you see the quality of work by your colleagues in second year and the school in general. As I progressed I started to find both my confidence and my feet with the assistance of Sam, Adrian, Mark and Maria and to enjoy the richness of experiences that the AA offers (workshops, parties, lectures, library, colleagues…). Projective Cities is likely one of the most thorough and rigorous post-professional masters programs out there which led to an incredibly rewarding feeling as I handed in my dissertation thesis, which I hold today alongside some very fond memories of the school.
I left the program to go into practice as an architect/urbanist in Paris. My dissertation on Lille contributed to us winning work there and likewise to aspects of our proposals for the site. More generally, the program has equipped me with a way of informing my practice more deeply with a projects architectural, urban and social context and channeling this into richer and more forceful design proposals.
Jingru Cyan Cheng
Having completed my five-year undergraduate studies in China, I believe that the comprehensive education I received there is able to train students to become capable practitioners. However, I was not sure if I can say I had developed my own strong position on architecture, or a clear vision of architecture. This is why I came to the AA, a school that celebrates the different visions of architecture, and chose Projective Cities, for me, a programme in pursuit of ‘principles’ at both architectural and urban scales.
In contrast to the architectural education in China that is focused on techniques, materials and spaces, the Projective Citis programme provides an education that questions and radicalises knowledge of the architectural discipline. Architecture is considered as thoughts that reflect on a time in history or in the future beyond its limitation to physical forms. Following from this, the MPhil thesis should be seen more as a political and social manifesto than solely design solutions. Besides the actual research produced, this is what I learned from the PC programme. An insight more valuable to me than the research itself.
After Projective Cities, I chose to continue my study at the AA at PhD level. I am in my third-year now. Derived from what I havedone in Projective Cities, adopting research by design as the main working methodology, I am especially interested in the relationships between built form and the socio-political formation of both the city and the countryside.
In addition, I have worked closely with Sam to set up and co-direct the AA Wuhan Visiting School. My experience in both China and AA leads me to establishing research and teaching collaborations between the UK and China through joint funding projects, visiting school programmes and academic symposia, benefiting from extensive professional networks in both countries.