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Architectural pedagogies, multiple intelligences and educational inclusion (Advert Reference: RDF20/EE/ABE/HOLGATE)

Project Description

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.

This project is supervised by Dr Peter Holgate. The second supervisor will be Dr Alice Vialard.

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. RDF20/EE/ABE/HOLGATE) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020

Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU/ Worldwide students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


Vialard, A., Holgate, P. & Young, S. (2019) ‘TIMELINES: Engaging with critical thinking through visual contextualization’. ACSA/EAAE Teacher Conference: Antwerp, Belgium. (forthcoming)

Holgate, P. (2019) ‘Multiple Intelligences Theory and Architectural Education’. In: Gerber, A. (2020) Spatial Abilities: A Workbook for Students of Architecture. Basel; Birkhauser (in press)

McClean, D. & Holgate, P. (2019) ‘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

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