School of the Built Environment


    A leading and international centre of excellence in the design of urban places and space. Qualify with a Masters in Urban Design in one year as a full-time student, or with a Postgraduate Certificate in 8 months part-time.

    MA Urban Design Urban Design Portfolio

    Urban Design Research Group




    Urban Design is an interdisciplinary activity. We attract students from different disciplines, cultures and nationalities; we embody an integrative philosophy, bringing together theory and practice from different fields in a comprehensive and coordinated way.

    The programme is open to anyone with either a first degree in a relevant subject, or with relevant work experience and no first degree.

    Our approach provides the basis for creative joined up thinking: since the inception of our MA in Urban Design courses in 1972, we have felt that the traditional professional built environment disciplines largely fail to address the issues involved in designing great places. These issues fall through gaps that separate architecture, planning, landscape architecture, estate management, traffic engineering and the host of others involved in the production of place. We fill the gaps.

    • Learn how to create great places.
    • Learn to think holistically, imaginatively and creatively about place-making.
    • Acquire the knowledge, skills, techniques and methods to create great places anywhere in the world.
      • The focus of our integrative approach is a practical one: we equip students to intervene effectively in the production of great places, through a practice that is relevant to many existing disciplines.
      • Our practice is critical of many current ways of doing things: it must be reflective practice, integrated with critical theory.
      • Become a 'reflective and imaginative practitioner' able to work anywhere: this concept is central to the philosophy of our linked MA in Urban Design course. Our urban design programmes are informed by rigorous theoretical research and context, area and site appraisal: you will start by learning the basics of good place-making and progress to advanced urban design and the application of your growing knowledge and skills to a range of national and international scenarios.
      • Design across scales: we apply our approach from the master-planning scale, through to the level of design frameworks, codes, design and access statements, down to the scale of plot-based design, public realm experience and improvements and through the delivery of vitality via events and pop-up urbanism.
      • Leave with an enhanced ability to research, design and evaluate places and proposals: students leave the Urban Design programmes with a postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or MA in Urban Design that gives them an enhanced ability to research, design and evaluate places and proposals in terms of environmental quality, intensity, density, accessibility, aesthetics, health and well-being and financial viability.

    Taking our courses, you will graduate from the postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or MA in Urban Design course with the essential knowledge, skills, techniques and methods to create great places anywhere in the world.

    • Rootscape – developing the urban design skills of young people (UrbanBuzz)
    • Urban Design Study for Lesney Matchbox Factory Site (LB Hackney)
    • Designing Sustainable Cities (Urban Practitioners and CABE)
    • Social housing (J A Pye Oxford Ltd.)
    • Evidence review: Thames Gateway (DCLG)
    • Townscape appraisal (Heritage Lottery Fund)
    • Transferable lessons from the new towns (DCLG)
    • Lim R, Azevedo L N de, Cooper J (2015): Embracing the conceptual shift on new ways of experiencing the city and learning urban design: pedagogical methods and digital technologies, Journal of Urban Design, DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2015.1071651.
    • Mahjoubi, L. and Spencer, B. (2015) Healthy play for all ages in public open spaces in The Routledge Handbook of Planning for Health and Well-Being Edited by Barton, H., Thompson, S., Burgess, S and Grant, M.
    • Reeve, AR and Shipley, R (2014) The impact of heritage investment on public attitudes to place: evidence from the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), Urban Planning and Transport Research, Vol 2 Issue 1 pp289-311
    • Reeve, AR and Shipley, R (2014) Heritage based regeneration in an age of austerity: lessons from the Townscape Heritage Initiative, Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal Vol 7 Number 2, pp 122-135
    • Reeve, AR and Hee Sun (2014) Local identity in the form production process, using aa a case study the multifunctional administrative city project (Sejong) in South Korea , Urban Design International, online publication date 22nd January
    • Wragg, E., & Lim, R. (2014). Urban Visions from Lusaka, Zambia. Habitat International, 46, pp. 260-270.
    • Azevedo, L. N. de & Lim, R. (2013). New Approaches Workshop: Innovative Urban Design Teaching and Learning. The National Conference on Urban Design. The Value of Urban Design. Saturday 18-20 October 2013. Oxford, Oxford Brookes University.
    • Cooper J, Su Mei-Lin, Oskrochi R (2013) Fractal analysis and perceptions of streetscape in Taipei: with comparative comments made in relation to two British case studies Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 2013, volume 40, pages 43 – 62.
    • Jones, T., Azevedo, L. N. de. Economic, Social and Cultural Transformation and the Role of the Bicycle in Brazil, (2013) Journal of Transport Geography Ashgate: Surrey. Available online 26 March 2013, ISSN 0966-6923, 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2013.02.005.
    • Reeve, AR and Shipley, R (2012) Assessing the effectiveness of the Townscape Heritage Initiative in regeneration, Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, Vol 6 Number 2 pp 189-210