Master's curriculum

Required Courses


Course #



ARCH 651 Arch History & Theory Seminar 1   PDF icon 651_syllabus.pdf 6
ARCH 652 Arch History & Theory Seminar 2 4
ARCH 653 Arch History & Theory Seminar 3 4
ARCH 654 Arch History & Theory Seminar 4   PDF icon 654_syllabus.pdf 6
ARCH 622 Critical Writing 4
ARCH 623 Project Preparation 3
ARCH 624 History & Theory Project 15
  Elective Course (any course at the 500- or 600- level, with the approval of the School) 3
Total   45


The History and Theory option is concerned with the reconciliation of ethics and poetics in architectural practice. The Master’s curriculum, which in most cases is also a required foundation year for a Ph.D. in the field, is simple in terms of course requirements, but demanding in terms of personal commitment to reading and writing. It is particularly suited to students with a professional background in architecture who want to explore and understand the complex connections between history, theory, and design. A thorough understanding of architecture as a cultural phenomenon, leading to a more serious definition of its true essence as it appears in history, is now regarded as crucial by practitioners and teachers who wish to come to terms with the present predicaments of architecture vis-à-vis the contradictions of the contemporary world.

The course of studies consists of four seminar courses in architectural history and theory, a seminar course in critical writing, a project preparation course, one elective course, and a final project. Proficiency in spoken English and written English or French are requirements for admission.

Architectural theory is viewed not as methodology but as philosophical orientation. Crucial issues of contemporary culture are explored through readings of phenomenology and continental European philosophy. Key notions in architecture, such as technology, perception, theory and practice, meaning and symbolization, and the nature of history, are discussed through the presentation of carefully selected readings. One of the seminars is dedicated to the exploration of nineteenth century architectural theory and practice in Europe and North America.

All graduate students entering the program must audit two lecture courses coordinated with ARCH 651 and ARCH 654: Architectural Intentions from Vitruvius to the Renaissance and Origins of Modern Architecture.

McGill’s History and Theory of Architecture Program has a long-standing international reputation. Students are able to draw from the wide-ranging expertise of the faculty of the School and the University. McGill’s Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art which includes the Canadian Architecture Collection is one of the best in Canada for this specialty. The course of studies is further enriched by the presence of distinguished visitors, which have included architects, theoreticians, historians and philosophers such as Juhani Pallasmaa, Dalibor Vesely, George Hersey, Karsten Harries, David Levin, Edward Casey and Richard Kearney, among others. The program is greatly enhanced by the proximity of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, a unique institution that attracts internationally recognized scholars and with which the program works in close collaboration. The multiple resources of the Centre’s library and archival collections are available for students doing thesis research.


alberto.perez-gomez [at] (Alberto Pérez-Gómez)
martin.bressani [at] (Martin Bressani)
ricardo.castro [at] (Ricardo Castro)
david.theodore [at] (David Theodore)

Contributing faculty

annmarie.adams [at] (Annmarie Adams)