ABE 009

The first year of a PhD project is to a large extent dedicated to the elaboration of the research design. The research problem and research questions must be formulated, a tentative conceptual model must be formulated, and the approach to answering the research questions must be outlined. The function of the research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables us to answer the initial question(s) as unambiguously as possible.

The course introduces themes in research design for architecture and the built environment. Based on these introductions each candidate’s initial research proposal will be discussed and partly rewritten and/or elaborated. The course is mandatory/’strongly advised’ for all PhD-students as part of the ‘Research and discipline-based competences and skills’.


The course focuses on the following themes:

  • Discriminating between different types of research in architecture and the built environment
  • Formulating research problem and research questions
  • Elaboration of research questions
  • Plan or proposal to conduct the research

Learning objectives

  • Streamlining and scheduling the research process
  • Assessing methods to be used
  • Making intermediary adjustments (often important in long term research projects)

Teaching methods

  • Two introductory lectures about (1) what is science and what is research, and about (2) what is design and what is design research
  • Workshop discussing PhD-students’ initial research proposals
  • Workshop discussing PhD-students’ rewritten/elaborated research proposals

Required reading

  • Groat, L. and Wang, D. (2001), Architectural Research Methods, Wiley
  • Findeisen, W. and Quade, E.S. (1988), The Methodology of Systems Analysis, in: Miser, H.J.and Quade, E.S., Handbook of Systems Analysis: craft, issues and procedural choices, Wiley, chapter 4.
  • Cross, N. (1990), The Nature and Nurture of Design Ability, Design Studies, 3, pp. 127-140.
  • Koskinen, I., Zimmerman, J., Binder, Th., Redström, J., Wensveen, S. (2011), Design Research Through Practice. From the Lab, Field, and showroom, Elsevier, chapters 1 and 2

Recommended reading

  • Lawson, B. and K. Dorst (2009), Design Expertise, Architectural Press
  • Kopec, D., Sinclair, E. and Matthes, B. (2012), Evidence Based Design. A Process for Research and Writing, Prentice Hall


17 February 2020, 11:30-14:30 hrs, Room P 
Session 1: Lecture ‘What is science? What is reseach?
Required reading: Groat and Wang (2001), chapters 1 through 4; Findeisen and Quade (1988) 

24 February 2020, 11:30-14:30 hrs, Room P
Session 2: Lecture ‘What is design? What is design research?
Required reading: Groat and Wang (2001), chapter 5; Koskinen et al. (2011), chapters 1 and 2; Cross (1990)

23 March 2020, 11:30-14:30 hrs, Room P
Session 3: workshop ‘Research Design 1’
Required reading: all papers
During the workshop 20 minutes will be dedicated to each paper: 5 minutes for presenting the main aspects and 15 minutes for discussion.

20 April 2020, 11:30-14:30 hrs, Room P 
Session 4: workshop ‘Research Design 2’
Required reading: all papers
During the workshop 20 minutes will be dedicated to each paper: 10 minutes for presenting the main aspects and the follow-up and 10 minutes for discussion.

Prerequisite for registering this course

1.     Early PhD candidates must already start their PhD for at least 3 months, and have identified and confirmed their PhD topics with their Promoters.
2.     Advanced PhD candidates who have already in their last year of PhD should make use of this course to develop a research proposal as an extension of PhD, to apply for Post Doc in future.

How to enroll

Please send an email with your name, mail address, start date, research group and title of your research to abe@tudelft.nl

Course Info

Course code
ABE 009

Course type
Lectures and workshops

Most appropriate for
First semester. Mandatory for all GS-A+BE PhD candidates

Free for PhD candidates of A+BE Graduate School

Number of participants
min. 10 /max. 12

Name of lecturer(s)/coach(es)
Prof. Cor Wagenaar - BK (C.Wagenaar@tudelft.nl); Dr. Queena Qian - BK (K.Qian@tudelft.nl)

Course load

Graduate School credits


Twice a year

Upcoming course dates and times
Fall 2019, see schedule

For further information, please contact Queena Qian.

Alternative (similar to)
Were you unable to enrol, try this course: Nethur CC2 Research Design