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History & Critical Thinking MA in Architectural Association

The Architectural Association
The AA School of Architecture
London, England
United Kingdom
History, Theory & Preservation

The History and Critical Thinking in Architecture programme is a unique postgraduate platform for engagement with the contemporary through critical enquiry into history and the politics of historiography.


Over the past twenty years, the 12-month programme has been continually developed and revised to remain positioned within current and emerging debates. The boundaries of what might be regarded as a legitimate object of study are being constantly interrogated and expanded. Rather than dealing with history, architecture and the city exclusively through buildings and methodological classifications, HCT attempts to transform these into distinct resources through which historical and political processes, spatial configurations and built forms can be analysed and better understood.


Writing is essential, both as a practice of thinking and a tool of communication. Different modes of writing – theses, essays, short experimental pieces, critical reviews, commentaries, book proposals and interviews – are explored to articulate the various aspects of study. Seminars with members of staff, as well as distinguished practitioners from different backgrounds – historians, critics, writers, designers, artists and curators – bring a diversity of perspectives and skills to the programme. Architectural writings, philosophical and political thought, ecology, literature, drawings, photographs and film are introduced and considered in analysing the connections between the textual, the visual and the graphic. The aim is to be able to explore, adopt and adapt elements of these disciplines and practices in one’s own writing, while preserving one’s own voice.


The ambition of HCT is three-fold: to explore writings of history and the ways in which social, political and cultural aspirations shape particular accounts of architectural and urban modernity; to connect current debates and projects with a wider milieu and interpret the contemporary from a historical, critical and cross-disciplinary point of view; to investigate technologies of research, production and distribution of knowledge in relation to practices and public cultures in architecture and in the context of recent cultural and geo-political changes.




Seminars, workshops, writing sessions and open debates offer students a range of approaches to expanding and reinterpreting disciplinary knowledge within a broad historical, political and cultural arena. Six courses are to be taken during Terms 1 and 2. Students will then attend a Thesis Research Seminar and produce a written thesis in Term 3. The thesis is the most significant component of students’ work. During the summer term, formal presentations to internal and external critics, as well as individual tutorials, help students to test and refine their ideas. A final presentation of the completed thesis to HCT staff and guests, as well as the new students to the programme, in September provides a formal conclusion to – and celebration of – the work of the year and an inspiring introduction for newcomers.


Collaborations with AA design Units, participation in juries and architectural trips and visits throughout the year enable students to engage with design speculation, as well as particular projects. Other courses outside of HCT can also contribute to the submission requirements for the programme – these must be approved by the programme director. HCT also provides research facilities and supervision (with the assistance of specialist advisers) to research degree candidates registered under the AA’s joint PhD programme, a crossdisciplinary initiative supported by all the Taught Postgraduate programmes.




Courses and events in Term 1 help students to reflect upon and challenge practices of historiography; to develop a deep understanding of the ideological, political and aesthetic issues inherent to the notion of modernity; to interrogate conceptual assumptions that have dominated modern architectural histories and criticism; to start exploring writing as a practice through which to think and to articulate ideas and arguments.




Courses and debates in Term 2 provide students with knowledge of the history of the discipline, primarily through textual and visual sources; expand disciplinary knowledge in a broad cultural and political arena and investigate modes of engagement with emerging issues. Joint MA and PhD Debates on History and Translation provide a venue for the exchange of ideas and arguments. Each week, guest speakers are invited to position multiple voices and make possible a process of thinking in common, by definition a pedagogical practice that differs from the seminar or the lecture. These sessions are open to the public. Using the concepts and processes of translation to discuss history will produce an interesting resonance with many of the talks and events on translation that will take place at the AA during the 2019–20 academic year.




As students begin to develop their theses in Term 3, their choice of topic, the organisation of their research and the development of their central argument are discussed during the weekly Thesis Research Seminar – a collective space where students learn about the nature of a dissertation through shared experience as a group. The thesis outline, objects of study and primary research questions are individually presented to a jury of invited critics in June. The Thesis Research Seminar will be supplemented by a reading and writing seminar/workshop with Anthony Vidler.




Term 4 is devoted to finalising the 15,000-word individual theses for submission in September. Informal presentations and individual tutorials provide students with support and guidance in the final stages of their research and writing.


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Admission Requirements



You are required to meet the minimum academic and reference requirements outlined below for your desired programme. Overseas applicants must also meet the English language qualifications requirements outlined below.


Successful applicants who are awaiting the outcome of future examination results will be issued a conditional offer. These conditions must be met by the date outlined on the offer letter in order to be eligible to enter the School.


Applicants who will not complete their degree until after June 2020 are encouraged to contact the Postgraduate Admissions Team prior to applying for the 2020/21 academic year.


Minimum Academic Requirements


MA History & Critical Thinking (12 months): Second Class Honours or above degree in architecture or a related discipline from a British university, or an overseas qualification of equivalent standard (from a course no less than three years in a university or educational institution of university rank)


English Language Requirements (All Applicants)


All applicants must be able to provide evidence of competency in both spoken and written English. The AA reserves the right to make a place in the School conditional on gaining a further English language qualification if deemed necessary.


More info at:


Application Procedure


The AA is a private institution. Anyone interested in applying to the AA must:


a.- Complete the online application form;


b.- Pay the relevant application fee: £50 for early applications, £75 for late applications; and


c.- Submit a digital portfolio of design work (all applicants with the exception of History and Critical Thinking and PhD in Research)


The application procedure is the same for all applicants, regardless of where you are applying form.


Prior to completing the form applicants should carefully read the entry requirements for their chosen programme. The AA will not accept multiple applications and applicants cannot change their programme of study once the application has been received, assessed and a decision has been made. Therefore, it is crucial that you apply for the programme most suited to your experience.


Applications will not be processed until the online form has been completed, all required supporting documents have been provided. Failure to provide the information requested will delay the processing of your application. It is therefore advisable that you start preparing this documentation now.


If there is any change in your circumstances after you submit your application (i.e. you will not be completing your current year of study), you must inform us as soon as possible. The AA reserves the right to withdraw an offer of a place if you fail to inform us of significant changes in your circumstances.


Deadlines for 2020/21 Academic Year


– Optional early-offer applications for 2020/21 close: Friday 22 November 2019*.


– Early (Winter) application deadlines for 2020/21 close: Friday 24 January 2020* (last deadline for bursary applications)


– Late (Spring) application deadlines for 2020/21 close: Friday 6 March 2020.


Both your online application, and your portfolio, must arrive by the dates listed above.


Applications received after the dates above may be accepted at the discretion of the School.


* In order to be eligible to apply for a bursary, applicants must submit their application and portfolio (if applicable) no later than 24 January 2020, stating their interest in an AA bursary in the ‘Finances and Funding’ section. Applicants who require an English language examination must also have booked and passed one of the approved English language examinations listed on the AA website by 24 January 2020 in order to be eligible for a bursary. The bursary application procedure will be explained once applicants receive an official offer.


Online form


You will need to register to gain access to the online application form


Please ensure you complete all sections of the online form carefully. You can save the form and return to complete sections multiple times using your original registration password.


Please be aware that applications will not be processed until the online form has been completed, all required supporting documents have been provided. Failure to provide the information requested will delay the processing of your application.


Applicants who submit an incomplete application will be contacted by email to request the outstanding documentation. The AA will send applicants a maximum of 2 reminders to follow up documentation. If no response is received, the application with be automatically rejected by the AA.


Upon signing the application form applicants certify that the work submitted is entirely their own. Plagiarism is unacceptable in the academic setting. Students are subject to penalties including dismissal from the course if they commit an act of plagiarism.


Certificates and Transcripts


You must submit scanned copies of your academic records or transcripts which include a detailed list of subjects taken and marks attained.


If you have completed your degree, please upload both the degree certificate and your transcripts (covering all years of study). If you have not completed your degree, please upload all academic transcripts to date.


Applicants who will not complete their degree until after June 2020 are encouraged to contact the Postgraduate Admissions Team prior to applying for the 2020/21 academic year.


Overseas applicants must provide documents in English. The AA can only accept official translations bearing the stamp and signature of the translator. Please also include scanned copies of the un-translated certificates and transcripts.




Applicants must submit two references with the online application form: one related to work experience, the other academic. If the applicant has no work experience two academic references are required. References must be on headed paper and signed. No application will be considered before two references have been received.


Referees who would prefer to send the reference to us directly can do so by post to:


Postgraduate Admissions, No. 36 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3ES.


Referees can also email us directly to However, the reference must be on official headed paper, be signed and scanned as a PDF, and emailed directly from the referees official school or university email address. Emails received from personal email addresses will not be accepted.


Submit Your Portfolio


With the exception of History and Critical Thinking and PhD Research, all applicants must submit a digital portfolio of design work, showing a combination of both academic and professional work. The Portfolio should contain 20 – 30 pages (drawings/project synopsis/samples of work) combined into a single PDF format (Max file size 40MB).


The portfolio should be clearly labelled including your full name and programme of application.




All applications will only be acknowledged by email. Decisions on applications are normally given within six to eight weeks of receiving the application. Applicants who need to meet funding deadlines should submit their application as early as possible. Please indicate the funding deadline in your application and the AA will make every effort to ensure that you are notified of the decision as soon as possible.


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General information
1 tear
Marina Lathouri
Not Confirmed
+44 (0)20 7887 4011
36 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3ES
Campus Location
The information of this Master's Degree was extracted from the Official Website of the program.
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