MPhil / PhD

Research degrees in Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

Research degrees at NTU
  • Level(s) of study: Postgraduate research
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: 4 entry points: January 2017, October 2017, April 2018 and June 2018
  • Course duration: Usually between 4 - 8 years

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.

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Ammar Irhoma, PhD Product Design
Ammar tells us about his life as a student studying PhD Product Design at Nottingham Trent University.

What you'll study

Aims of postgraduate research degrees

The aim of a postgraduate research degree is to investigate and create new ideas and designs, which contribute to new perceptions, products, processes and the development of new systems and solutions. You'll contribute to advancing our understanding of the built environment, and improving the quality of products, processes and systems that exist within that environment.

Areas of research expertise in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

We can offer supervision in following research areas*:

*Please be aware that once you submit your research proposal, we will work to match your objectives and research themes to a member of our academic team who's specialisms are broadly aligned to your research area. If we're unable to identify a suitable lead supervisor, we may advise that we are unable to offer you a position as a PhD/MPhil student at NTU.

  • Architectural Design and Product Design

    Architectural Design

    • Architecture
    • Interior Architecture

    Product Design

    • Creative Technology
    • Design Management
    • Engineering Design
    • Furniture Design
    • Industrial Design
    • Integrated Design and Manufacture
    • Product Design
    • Sustainable Design
    • Web / Internet Based Engineering.
  • Civil Engineering and Construction Management

    Construction Management

    • Building and Construction
    • Construction Management

    Civil Engineering

    • Civil Engineering
  • Property Management and Development 

    • Property Management
    • Real Estate
    • Surveying

Benefit from a team of academic support staff, to help focus your research and prepare for key milestones throughout your studies.

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.

In the most recent Research Excellent Framework 2014, 90% of our research was judged to be 'world-leading', 'internationally excellent', or 'internationally-recognised'.

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.

Opt to prepare for an academic career, by teaching undergraduate students or supervising laboratory work.

Our PhD and MPhil course are suitable for both professionals with industry experience, and high-performing graduates from undergraduate (honours) degrees.

How to apply

How to apply

Applications for a research course are made through the NTU Doctoral School.

For a step-by-step about how apply, visit our Doctoral School application page.

Entry requirements

  • An applicant for admission to read for a PhD/MPhil should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university; or,
  • An equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a Master's degree at Merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.

Application process

To apply for a PhD / MPhil please submit a research proposal (between 1,000 and a maximum of 2,000 words) which addresses the following points:

  • provisional title
  • the topic or area to be investigated (the subject or field that you are going to investigate)
  • the problem or hypothesis to be tested (the research questions or problem you want to address, the research objectives)
  • the relationship of the proposed research to the published literature and to current research in the field (how your project relates to other work)
  • an indication of the contribution to knowledge that the thesis is anticipated to make (what you hope to find out)
  • the methods and techniques to be used in the research (how you propose to go about the research)
  • a provisional timetable for the project, indicating anticipated activities
  • details of your previous work in the proposed field, or relationship to prior experience or study
  • bibliography of sources already consulted or identified as of relevance to your proposal.

As you're applying for a Research degree, you may also like to have a look around our Research pages. This may help you to spot academic staff, research areas or projects that interest you.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

How to apply

Applications for a research course are made through the NTU Doctoral School.

For a step-by-step about how apply, visit our Doctoral School application page.

Entry requirements

  • An applicant for admission to read for a PhD/MPhil should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university; or,
  • An equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a Master's degree at Merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.
  • If you are an international applicant, you will require an English language qualification, normally an IELTS with a score of 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each skill). For a list of our language requirements please visit our English language page. If you need to do a pre-sessional English language course to meet the English requirements please visit our pre-sessional English course page.
  • Applicants who have taken a higher degree at a UK university are normally exempt from the English language requirements. Applicants who do not meet the English language proficiency requirement will normally be asked to complete an English Language course.
  • For advice on applying for a visa please visit our visa information page.

Application process

To apply for a PhD / MPhil please submit a research proposal (between 1,000 and a maximum of 2,000 words) which addresses the following points:

  • provisional title
  • the topic or area to be investigated (the subject or field that you are going to investigate)
  • the problem or hypothesis to be tested (the research questions or problem you want to address, the research objectives)
  • the relationship of the proposed research to the published literature and to current research in the field (how your project relates to other work)
  • an indication of the contribution to knowledge that the thesis is anticipated to make (what you hope to find out)
  • the methods and techniques to be used in the research (how you propose to go about the research)
  • a provisional timetable for the project, indicating anticipated activities
  • details of your previous work in the proposed field, or relationship to prior experience or study
  • bibliography of sources already consulted or identified as of relevance to your proposal.

As you're applying for a Research degree, you may also like to have a look around our Research pages. This may help you to spot academic staff, research areas or projects that interest you.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2018 entry

Study routeHome tuition fee (UK/EU studentsInternational tuition fee
PhD/MPhil (Full-time)To be confirmed in January 2018
2017 fee for reference: £4,195 per year
£13,250 per year
PhD/MPhil (Part-time)To be confirmed in January 2018
2017 fee for reference: £2,097.50 per year
£6,625 per year
Completion year fee (writing up)To be confirmed
2017 fee for reference: £610 per year
To be confirmed
2017 fee for reference: £610 per year

An additional annual bench fee of up to £8,000 may be charged for some research students. Please note that the amounts stated above will increase each year in line with inflation.

Funding your studies

There are numerous sources of funding available for postgraduate students, both from external sources such as the Government and funding bodies, and from the University.

There are two main costs involved with postgraduate study: the cost of your tuition fees which is paid directly to the University, and living expenses such as accommodation, travel and food.

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there’s no need to feel anxious and confused about it. You might be able to get a scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our postgraduates’ guide funding page for information about sourcing grants, bursaries and scholarships, and much more.

Getting in touch

For further information about our tuition fees, please contact the Doctoral School by telephone +44 (0)115 848 8123 or via email. For more advice and guidance about funding your studies, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service by calling +44 (0)115 848 2494.

Fees for 2018 entry

Study routeHome tuition fee (UK/EU studentsInternational tuition fee
PhD/MPhil (Full-time)To be confirmed in January 2018
2017 fee for reference: £4,195 per year
£13,250 per year
PhD/MPhil (Part-time)To be confirmed in January 2018
2017 fee for reference: £2,097.50 per year
£6,625 per year
Completion year fee (writing up)To be confirmed
2017 fee for reference: £610 per year
To be confirmed
2017 fee for reference: £610 per year

An additional annual bench fee of up to £8,000 may be charged for some research students. Please note that the amounts stated above will increase each year in line with inflation.

Funding your studies

We offer prestigious scholarships to new international students holding offers to study at the University.

Getting in touch

For further information about our tuition fees, please contact the Doctoral School by telephone +44 (0)115 848 8123 or via email. For more advice and guidance about funding your studies, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service by calling +44 (0)115 848 2494.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418