Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Liam is available to supervise postgraduate and doctoral research that engages in theoretical or by-design analysis of contemporary building practice. He has a particular interest in topics that seek to unearth the ‘infrastructures’ of architectural practice; those material and conceptual dependencies that are embedded within and normalised by the design of our built environment. Infrastructures of this type might include material supply chains, energetic flows and labour practices, as well as representational conventions or legal frameworks. He is able to support proposals that engage with such topics through the lens of Architectural History and Theory, but also through concepts and methods drawn from other fields including Governmentality Studies, Science Technology and Society, History of Science, Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis. Liam maintains research connections with colleagues in The Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation (ISSTI) and the Edinburgh Fire Research Centre, and is open to proposal for interdisciplinary research between Architecture, Sociology and Engineering, particularly in connection to fire and fire-safety.

Personal profile


Liam Ross is an architect and senior lecturer in Architectural Design at the University of Edinburgh. He studied at the University of Edinburgh and the Architectural Association, and completed his doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Mark Dorrian. Liam has experience of practice in the UK and US, including a period of 5 years with Malcolm Fraser Architects. He has received a number of awards for his independent work, and work in practice. He maintain an ongoing relationship with professional practice as co-founder of ESALA Projects, a consultancy vehicle through which he and fellow staff offers pro-bono and for-fee consultancy to public and third-sector clients. Liam has held a post at the University of Edinburgh since 2011. He has contributed to ESALA’s professional programmes in Architecture by teaching at all levels, in design, theory, and research methods. He is an active researcher whose work has been exhibited and published widely. Liam is actively involved in in academic citizenship at ESALA and ECA, a former programme director of the Master of Architecture programme, and currently ESALA’s Undergraduate Teaching Convenor.

Research Interests

Liam’s own research responds ‘to a call to study boring things’. It pays attention to aspects of design practice that often taken-for-granted, but nonetheless have pervasive effects. Specifically his work focusses on building standardisation as a mode of design; it seeks to foreground the ‘govern-mentalities’ embedded within familiar norms, and to trace the way those mentalities are translated and inscribed into built form. In doing so, his work reflects on the partiality of standards, the contingency of norms, and the often surprising side-effects at standards have as they are ‘captured’ and re-interpreted by those who work closely with them. His work has been published in Arch +, arq, Architectural Theory Review, Candide, Gta Papers and Volume, and features in the edited collections Industries of Architecture and Neoliberalism on the Ground. With colleague Tolulope Onabolu, he was commissioned to exhibit material at the British Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. A forthcoming monograph with Pyrotechnic Cities: Architecture, fire-safety and standardisation (Routledge, 2022) will collect recent material focussed on the way architects work with around the requirements of fire-safety standards.  



Education/Academic qualification

Architecture, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Standard Side Effects: The accidental architectures of fire-safety regulation, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 5 Jun 2019

MArch, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 5 Jun 2003

Master of Architecture, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 2001


  • NA Architecture
  • Architecture
  • Research by Design
  • Governmentality
  • Infrastructure Studies
  • Regulation
  • Fire-Safety


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