MA in Western Architectural History by Research

Entry requirements: First or second class honours degree or relevant experience Full or Part-time: Full-time, Part-time
School: School of Humanities Search all courses
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This course is to be an interdisciplinary programme enabling students to examine, by way of a thesis of the usual length allowed for Buckingham Master’s degree dissertations, aspects of Western Architectural History from the medieval period to the mid-twentieth century. Students will be encouraged to consider the interrelation of architectural history, art history and social history.

The seminar programme, which serves to complement the student’s individual research, will explore these themes in a series of twelve meetings, which will be addressed by some of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished architectural historians. These will be prefaced by a general introductory class led by the Course Director, offering an introduction to research techniques, relevant library resources available in London and through the University of Buckingham’s online subscriptions, to relevant museum collections and to the most recent academic approaches to the subject.

Each seminar will take place in central London in the early evening, followed by a 40-minute question-and-answer session with the seminar speakers, all recognised experts in their fields, and a dinner at which there will be further discussion with the speaker and a general conversation about the topic in hand. Six seminars will be scheduled for the period between October and December, and a further six in the period between the New Year and March.

After the course leader’s general introduction, there will be a series of twelve seminar papers which explore the architecture of the Western world: the medieval castle, the Gothic cathedral, Italian renaissance architecture, French and English baroque palace and country house architecture, European baroque church architecture, the inspiration of the Classical world, the Gothic Revival and historicism, Ruskin and Morris and the birth of conservation philosophy, industrialisation and the transformation of urban architecture, colonial architecture, Beaux-Arts architecture in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the meaning of Modern architecture. Reading lists will be made available before each lecture to allow for background reading and discussion with the expert speakers.


Taster Seminars

Two occasional seminars have been organised by Course Director Jeremy Musson for 2017-18, and a third seminar will be organised in March 2018, to be held at the university’s London offices at 51 Gower St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6HJ; with seminar-lecture, chaired discussion and supper.

Architecture MA London seminar

Thursday 30 November 2017, 18:30

Dr Rebecca Gill, Ahmanson Research Fellow and Curator in the study of Art and Religion, the National Gallery, London: ‘The Visual Language of Church Reform: ecclesiastical architecture in Tridentine Italy’

Thursday 11 January 2018, 18:30

Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Reader in Architecture, University of Kent: ‘Building on the Past: Gothic Revival and historicism in Western architecture in the nineteenth century’

A third seminar is to be organised on the theme of ‘What is architectural history?’ in March 2018.

Please contact Maria Floyd ( or Jeremy Musson ( for information about fees and attendance. To be considered for attendance, we will require submission of a brief background about yourself supported by a reference.

“The Buckingham seminars are given by lecturers of the highest calibre, frequently featuring scholars who have written the leading books in their field. The evenings are relaxed, but stimulating and engaging. The opportunity to continue the discussion – expertly led by Jeremy Musson – with the speaker and other participants (who are unfailingly well informed, interesting, and friendly) over dinner and wine is unique, as well as highly convivial. I would unhesitatingly recommend the seminars to anybody with an interest in the history of art and architecture, whatever their level of expertise”
Alexander Echlin, London
2017-18 seminar attendee

Course Director:
Jeremy Musson, LLB (Hons), MPhil

Jeremy Musson has a distinguished reputation as an architectural and social historian. A former National Trust assistant curator, he was Architectural Editor of Country Life magazine in 1998-2007, and presented the BBC 2 series The Curious House Guest, 2006-2007. He is an author and historic buildings consultant, working with a range of clients including the National Trust and St Paul’s Cathedral.

He is a regular lecturer and supervisor on the Master’s in Building History course at the University of Cambridge, a second supervisor to the Buckingham Master’s in the English Country House, regular speaker and tutor on the Attingham Summer School and has been a course director for the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. He has also lectured The Royal Oak in the USA and at various US museums.

His books include The Country Houses of Sir John Vanbrugh, English Ruins, Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant, English Country House Interiors and Robert Adam: Country House Design, Decoration and the Art of Elegance (2017). He recently contributed a chapter to the new monograph King’s College Chapel 1515-2015: Art, Music and Religion in Cambridge, 2014, and another to Fin de siècle Rediscovered. A Mosaic of the Turn of the Century, proceedings of a conference at the National Museum in Warsaw. He is co-editor with Sir David Cannadine of the forthcoming collection of essays The British Country House Revisited.

Associate students

For those wishing to attend the evening research seminar programme, but unable to devote the time to the coursework or to register for the MA degree, there is the option of becoming an Associate Student.  This status will enable the student to attend the twelve research seminars and to meet the guest lecturers, in the first six months of the programme, but does not require the submission of written work. Associate Students are not registered for, and do not receive, the MA degree.

Full details in the Curriculum Handbook 

For further details contact:
Humanities Research Admissions on +44 (0)1280 827514


Entry Requirements

Entry requirements

The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows:

  • a first or second-class honours degree from a recognised university or,
  • a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience

Mature students

Age is no barrier to learning and we welcome all applications from suitably qualified students. Due to their flexibility, our London-based MAs by research attract a wide variety of applicants from a range of backgrounds, including people in full-time employment and retirees. Our current students range in age from 21 to 75.

International students

We are happy to consider all international applications and if you are an international student, you may find it useful to visit our international pages for details of entry requirements from your home country.

The University is a UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor.

English levels

If English is not your first language, please check our postgraduate English language requirements. If your English levels don’t meet our minimum requirements, you may be interested in applying for our Pre-sessional English Language Foundation Programmes.

Selection process

Candidates apply online, sending in their supporting documents, and will be assessed on this basis by the Programme Director.  The Programme Director or Admissions Assistant will be happy to answer any enquiries.

Admissions and Marketing Officer, London Programmes

Terms and conditions for prospective students

When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the terms and conditions between the University and students on our courses of study. When you accept an offer of a place on the course at the University a legal contract is formed between you and the University on the basis of the terms and conditions outlined in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the terms and conditions contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting any offer. Read the admissions terms and conditions > >


Teaching & Assessment

Speakers and topics for 2018-19 will include

  • 4 October 2018 – Jeremy Musson:  Introduction: what is architectural history? (51 Gower Street)
  • 11 October 2018 – Dr John Goodall, Architectural Editor, Country Life, The European Castle (Reform Club)
  • 25 October 2018 – Professor Christopher Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Architectural History, UCL, The Gothic Cathedral in Europe (Reform Club)
  • 8 November 2018 – Dr David Hemsoll, University of Birmingham, Bramante and the untidy onset of the High Renaissance (Reform Club)
  • 22 November 2018 – Dr Rebecca Gill,  National Gallery, London: Post-tridentine churches in Italy (Reform Club)
  • 6 December 2018 – Dr James Legard, University of York, French and English baroque palaces (51 Gower Street)
  • 18 January 2019 – Dr Steve Parissien, Director, Compton Verney, The Inspiration of the Antique (Reform Club)
  • 7 February 2019 – Dr Tim Brittain-Catlin, University of Kent, Historicism in nineteenth century Europe (Reform Club)
  • 14 February 2019 – Prof Simon Thurley, Gresham College, Industrialisation and the transformation of urban architecture (Reform Club)
  • 28 February 2019 – Dr Olivia Horsfall Turner, Victorian and Albert Museum: Ruskin, Morris and the birth of conservation (51 Gower Street)
  • 7 March 2019 – Charles Hind, FSA, Chief Curator and H.J. Heinz Curator of Drawings, RIBA British Architectural Library, Colonial architecture: Lutyens and Baker in India (Reform Club)
  • 14 March 2019 – Professor Alan Powers, Emeritus Professor, University of Greenwich, The meaning of Modern (Reform Club)

Reading lists are circulated 4 weeks before each lecture; dates and lecturers may be subject to change.

Each guest speaker seminar begins at 18:30 and is followed by a dinner, at 20:00, with the guest speaker with additional chaired discussion.  The cost of all post-seminar dinners is included in the tuition fees.

The MA does not offer systematic instruction in the facts; instead, the emphasis is on independent thought and research.

At the heart of the Buckingham MA is the close working relationship between student and supervisor. While the final thesis must be an independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic (if necessary), on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the final text (which should be not less than 25,000 words). Supervisors and students will meet frequently throughout the year, and not less than twice a term; and the supervisor shall always be the student’s primary contact for academic advice and support.

See the Humanities Curriculum Handbook and Research Degrees Handbook for further information.


After Your Degree

The University’s Course Directors, students’ supervisors, and the Research Officer and Tutor for Graduate Students are available to discuss students’ post-graduation plans and how they may utilise most effectively the skills acquired during their studies.


Fees & Scholarships

Please note that the University of Buckingham has four terms per year. The tuition fees quoted are for the degree (e.g. if you start a degree at Buckingham in January 2018, you will pay the same termly fee for the duration of your degree – you will not be affected by the price increase in September 2018). Students will pay the same termly fee for the duration of their studies, unless studies are interrupted and resumed later. The tuition fee quoted is therefore the total cost of the degree.

Please click here for Associate Student fees (or here for international Associate Student fees).

Postgraduate loan scheme

A new system of postgraduate loans for Masters degrees in the UK was introduced in August 2016 with support from the UK Government. The loan will provide up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.  Find out more >>


Details of scholarships can be found on our main Bursaries and Scholarships page. You should make an application to study at the University and receive an offer letter confirming our acceptance of your application before applying for a scholarship.

You may also find it useful to visit our External Funding page.

Fees may increase annually in line with inflation. For details, please see our Fees and Finance page.


Due to the mode of study on this course you will not normally need a room in University accommodation during your degree.

However, if you require short-term accommodation in Buckingham we would be happy to provide a list of local bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation. Alternatively, please contact our Accommodation Office for advice.