Architecture and associated design fields promote the development of skill sets that include applied creativity, management of complexity, critical curiosity, collaborative working, aesthetic judgement, functional evaluation, spatial composition, visual literacies, and 2D/3D communications methods. Such skills combine to develop the design practitioner’s ability to produce functioning knowledge for practical application, in contrast with normative methods of declarative knowledge reproduction employed in traditional, didactic teaching approaches. These design skills encourage a broader array of ‘multiple intelligences’ (Gardner, 2006), reflecting the necessary attributes identified as being key to educational, economic and employability successes in the 21st Century (World Economic Forum, 2018)
An associated benefit of the signature pedagogies of architectural design and assessment is the potential of educational inclusion. Normative teaching and assessment methods that concentrate on standardised and prescribed testing of numeracy and literacy may prejudice the holistic assessment of students with particular learning differences, e.g. dyslexia, dyscalculia, AD(H)D or Aspergers syndrome. Design education may provide an inclusive alternative to standardised ‘deficit models’ of teaching, whereby learning and assessment methods potentially validate individuals’ particular strengths, recognising and celebrating forms of intelligence traditionally marginalised by academia. Ongoing research between ZHAW Winterthur, ETH Zurich, and Northumbria University is seeking to determine whether spatial awareness abilities, in particular, can be successfully measured in architecture students, and whether these abilities are significantly improved from the commencement to the completion of a course of architectural studies.
This discursive inquiry seeks to build upon, and apply the findings of such research in order to identify how architectural education can be both evaluated, improved and applied elsewhere. To what extent is architectural education an inclusive learning experience? What might its approaches offer to other educational contexts? In addition to architectural education, the fields of education, design, neuroscience and psychology are all relevant to this inquiry.
The principal supervisor for this project is Associate Professor Peter Holgate.
Eligibility and How to Apply: Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/EE/ABE/HOLGATE) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019
Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.
The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).
McClean, D. & Holgate, P. (2018) ‘Mental Health in UK Architecture Education’ (in press; RIBA Research Grant award)
Holgate, P. (2015) ‘Developing an Inclusive Curriculum of Architecture for Students with Dyslexia’. In: Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 14(1), pp. 87-99
Holgate, P., Bramley, E. & Welch, H. (2015) Academic literacy and the transition to studying architecture. In: The North East Regional Three Rivers Conference, 27th March 2015, University of Sunderland
Holgate, P. & Sara, R. (2014). ‘Towards a Scholarship of Learning in Architectural Education’. In: Charette, 1(1), pp. 146-155
Holgate, P. & Jones, P. (2011) ‘Care of the Self: embedding well-being into architectural education’. In: Well-being 2011: First International Conference Exploring the Multi-dimensions of Well-being, 18th-19th July 2011, Birmingham City University