PGCert in Architectural History
About the course
This one year part-time course consists of three taught units and a dissertation. It covers English architectural history from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present day. The course is designed to offer a progression from supported learning, with regular essays and feedback in the Historical Studies units, to more independent work in the Site Evaluation Survey Unit and, particularly, the dissertation, and can therefore act as a preparation for progression to a higher academic level, including doctoral work.
The PGCert is taught in association with the Historic Conservation course at Oxford Brookes University.
It is recommended that students plan to spend at least 15 hours per week in private study in addition to time spent in classes or tutorials. This may require careful scheduling at times to fit in with other commitments.
Unit 1: Historical Studies 1
Settlement, Landscape and Medieval Buildings
Unit 1 concentrates on the medieval period. It provides an introduction to the evolution of the landscape and the major elements of architectural history in England up to the sixteenth century.
The aim of the unit is to enable you to acquire a sound understanding of the basic development of medieval buildings and their context.
Teaching is by means of lectures, held in Rewley House, and field trips. You will also need to ensure you have sufficient time for directed reading and private study. Tutorials are available by request.
Unit 2: Historical Studies 2
The unit will continue the themes introduced in Historical Studies 1 and will analyse the major architectural developments from the sixteenth century to the present century.
The unit will seek to build on the Historical Studies 1 to enable you to acquire a sound understanding of the development of English architectural history and its broader context down to the present century in a manner which is relevant to historic conservation.
Teaching is by means of lectures at Rewley House. You will also need to ensure you have sufficient time for directed reading and private study. Tutorials are available by request.
Unit 3: Site evaluation and survey
Local Historic Building Study
This unit is based at Oxford Brookes University in Headington.
This is a skill-based unit designed to develop expertise in understanding the special architectural and historical characteristics of a particular site, building or group of buildings and to develop techniques for its representation through research, measurement, and drawn and photographic recording.
This unit will enable you to develop the skills necessary to plan, prepare and execute a programme for the recording of structures and sites, and will introduce the main sources of archive material for investigations into historic buildings, sites and monuments. It provides an introduction to the making of a competent analytical record of a site through text, photographic and measured surveys, and drawn representation.
Teaching is by means of lectures, field trips and practical sessions, which need to be supplemented by private study. You will also have to conduct individual fieldwork.
This unit is taught on either side of Christmas and Easter, ending in mid-May, at Oxford Brookes University in Headington, Oxford. The detailed timetable for this unit will be circulated at the start of Michaelmas term. The syllabus will cover drawing and survey techniques, documentary research, photographic recording and practical building analysis.
Unit 4: Individual dissertation
An 8,000-word dissertation on a subject relevant to architectural history, chosen in consultation with the course tutor and due for submission by the end of August. Dissertations are supervised within the Department for Continuing Education.
This unit provides an opportunity for an extended exploration of a single topic based on primary and secondary research to demonstrate the skills and knowledge gained in the other elements of the course.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department for Continuing Education and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.
It is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department for Continuing Education. Students are able to take advantage of four and a quarter hours maximum of one-to-one tutorial supervision.
In addition to the dissertation which is written during Unit Four, assessment takes place throughout the course.
Unit One is assessed by three essays. Assessment of Unit Two consists of two essays, and Unit three is assessed via a workbook record of a selected building, to be submitted by mid-May.
Upon successful completion of this course, some students have gone on to further graduate study at a master's or doctoral level at Oxford and elsewhere; others find employment with conservation and heritage organisations.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the department
Architectural History DPhil
All graduate courses in the humanities offered by this department
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject.
Applications are also considered from those who do not have previous higher education. Vocational qualifications equivalent to NVQ level 4 are acceptable substitutes, as is at least three years’ experience in a conservation-related profession.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Applicants need not necessarily have studied architectural history previously, but should be able to show evidence of prior interest in the subject, eg through work-related activities, voluntary work in a related field, completion of previous courses (including evening classes), or membership of relevant local or national societies.
- All applicants must have a broad knowledge of English political, social and economic history.
- Publications are not required.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Interviews are normally held in April and early May, for applications received in March; for later applications, interviews are held as soon as possible.
Applicants who appear, from the material they submit, to be suitable for the course will be invited to interview. Interviews will normally be conducted in person by the Course Director and another academic from the Department for Continuing Education. The interview will seek to resolve any questions arising from the application, to explore prior educational or other experience, prior interest in the subject, and motivation, and to assess the applicants’ ability to communicate orally. Interviewers will also seek to ensure that applicants have a full understanding of the workload and implications of embarking on the course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.
The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.
The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programmes. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 60 undertaking doctoral research.
The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment.
Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.
The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.
Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and also participate in field visits in Oxfordshire,and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for these and for some field-based essay work. The practical unit requires the purchase of some drawing and basic measuring equipment (approximately £150). The practical unit and the dissertation may require additional travel, accommodation or research expenses, depending on the choice of topic/place being studied.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.
Matriculation confers membership of the University on students. Students who enrol on this course will not be matriculated and will not become a member of an Oxford college. Although not formally members of the University, non-matriculated students are expected to observe the same rules and regulations as matriculated students. Further information about matriculation is available on the Oxford Students website.
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
Prior to applying, you are encouraged to communicate with academics working in your area of interest to discuss potential research topics and the possibility of being offered supervision. Details of academic staff, including their research interests and contact details, can be found on the departmental website. General enquiries should be made to the department's graduate studies administrator via the contact details provided on this page.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, academic preferred
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
References should generally be academic. However, where academic references cannot be provided, professional references will be accepted in lieu of academic references.
Your references will support your academic ability and suitability for this course.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
A maximum of 1,000 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and any specific areas that interest you.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for your reasons for applying, relevant experience, evidence of commitment to the subject and of motivation.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your motivation, suitability and academic aptitude at this moment.
One essay of a maximum of 2,000 words
A piece of written work in English, either from previous education or more recent, is required. Extracts from longer pieces are acceptable, provided they are self-contained and prefaced by a note explaining their context (eg chapter or section of a dissertation).
The subject should ideally be related to architectural history or history, though written work on other subjects is acceptable. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for your command of written English and ability to construct a logical argument.
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.