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Urban Design

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2023



Course length

Full time: MA: 12 months, PGDip: 8 months, PGCert: 4 months. The full-time route is delivered 2 days per week.

Part time: MA: 24 months, PGDip: 20 months, PGCert: 8 month. The part-time route is delivered 1 day per week.


Accredited by Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a Specialist Programme. Full RTPI accreditation is available when combined with the Postgraduate Diploma in Spatial Planning or any RTPI partially accredited UG programme such as: BA Urban Design, Development and Planning, and BSc Property Development and Planning.

  • The Royal Town Planning Institute


Our Urban Design MA brings together theory and design practice to develop your urban design skills.

Urban Design applies to worldwide locations facing contemporary global issues. It combines the form production processes of place and socio-economic drivers that shape the urban realm. And links theory, practice and the urban experience. 

You'll be part of an international cohort of students from planning, architecture, landscape architecture and other backgrounds. You will work in design studios with support from professional practitioners and research tutors.

The urban design skills you develop apply to a spectrum of locations and issues and you will be able to create liveable places for tomorrow. You'll also engage with contemporary and future urban issues such as:

  • intensification and population growth
  • climate change
  • cultural design context 
  • biodiversity and landscape urbanism
  • affordable housing
  • urban public realm in the digital age.

On graduating you will be employable in professions in a range of fields related to the growth and liveability of cities.

Student using specialist computer software

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

The course is open to applicants who hold a 2.1 undergraduate honours degree (or international equivalent) in a related design & planning discipline.

We will actively consider applications from candidates with lower degrees or an alternative subject, who can provide a suitable portfolio and/or evidence relevant work experience.

Mid-career professional candidates with practice experience are also encouraged to apply.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 overall with 6.0 in all components.


An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

We advise applying in advance to secure places, and allow sufficient time for applications to be reviewed.

There is no formal application deadline (recruitment closes when teaching capacity is reached). 

Applicants should also factor any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Student visa (if applicable).

Apply now

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£8,350 (Masters); £7,350 (Diploma); £4,175 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time
£930 per single module

International full time

Home (UK) full time
£9,800 (Masters); £8,800 (Diploma); £4,900 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time
£1,090 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time
£8,350 (Masters); £7,350 (Diploma); £4,175 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time
£930 per single module

International full time

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,800 (Masters); £8,800 (Diploma); £4,900 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time
£1,090 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

Note for part time students: The per module fee relates to a twenty credit module. The programme consists of four thirty credit modules so the charge per module will be higher.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Learning and assessment

The course's teaching and learning methods are chosen to help develop the student’s capacities as a reflective practitioner. As a result, they are concerned with both the practice of urban design and the processes of reflection on this. We believe that the practice of urban design is best learned through project work and this forms the central emphasis of our teaching and learning strategy. Through live projects you will study design sites from across the world, meaning you’ll have the opportunity to learn how processes operate in practice across a variety of contexts.

You’ll develop tools for understanding and critique through lectures, seminars and workshops, and through the writing of papers that are designed to develop your ability to construct reasoned and critical arguments about complex urban design topics.

Student creating a wall display

Study modules

The programme consists of 4 x 30 credit modules together with research methods and the dissertation or major project. The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught Modules

Compulsory modules

Contemporary approaches to Urban Design (30 credits)

This module brings together theory and practice to support analytical development for use in problem-based learning design studios. The theoretical approaches establish a common intellectual and professional vocabulary across current socio-spatial, political, economic, environmental and ecological urban debates. Practice sessions develop skills and tools for critical analysis and design of frameworks for site assessment, morphology, graphics for communicating, as well as economic costs of development. For use in the design of public realm, practice sessions cover place-making strategies on streets to places, townscape (buildings, energy efficiency, sensory richness), and streetscape modelling.

Urban Design Masterplan to Public Realm (30 credits)

This design studio offers a live design site where the application of theory and practice can be tested. Skills, tools and critical analysis for designing across the range of morphological layers are covered in this module. Theory and practice are learned through application of design to produce professional quality master planning strategies. You’ll be supported in this work by a series of tutorials with academic staff and professionals in practice.

International Urban Design Theories for Design and Planning (30 credits)

This module equips participants with a broad understanding of the theory and practice needed for the design and planning of cities within a globalising world. Tools for critical evaluation of contemporary and future urban problems are covered in lectures on the history and theory of urbanism as well as contemporary debates and developments. This module includes; environment and climate change, technological innovations, socio-economic movements, spatial and physical shifts and innovations.

Urban Design in Challenging Contexts (30 credits)

This module provides a vehicle for students to engage in future-proofing their urban design and planning practice. The aim of this module is to develop students’ group and individual skills and knowledge of concepts, techniques and applications of urban design in challenging local and international contexts. The specific case studies used will vary from year to year to reflect developments in current concerns, and will include for example, dealing with high-density development, coding and briefing for local identity, community design involvement, designing for distinctiveness and applying good urban design in relation to climatic management.

Research methods in Design (10 credits)

This module advances students' knowledge and understanding of research methods available to urban designers, planners and architects. It engages with a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods and provides a forum for debate about research as well as giving students the opportunity to gain practical research skills. General research strategies are complemented by a focus on urban design specific research techniques based on current practice. Through employing live case study research undertaken within the School, students' abilities to evaluate research and the role of research are developed.

Final project

Compulsory modules

Design Dissertation or Major Project (50 credits)

In the dissertation module students develop the ability to conduct either an independent research project/thesis, or a critical evaluation of a proposed scheme related to the urban context (within the realms of design, planning and architecture).

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

We use a range of activities to deliver theoretical and practice-based content:

  • peer-learning through group work and critical assessment of individual projects
  • studio set-up and design based learning to mirror real environments in practice
  • merged theory and practice modules which are applied in Design studio projects
  • problem based learning to gain in depth understanding of urban issues and proposed solutions
  • international projects to expose you to different cultures and urban phenomena
  • independent research to develop critical thinking and creative approaches to problem solving; you will focus on a specific area of research interest
  • use of multi-media for developing skills for communicating
  • field trips and site visits to gain a live-in experience and sense of scale for spatial forms.

For full time students, all teaching takes place on two days. This allows the rest of the week for independent studio project development. 

Part time attendance is one day per week.

Field trips

UK field studios

London provides a rich field resource for understanding the sense of scale, new interventions and the live-in quality of the public realm. Field studios become teaching references for the design process as well as a means for testing urban theories.

International field trip

This is organised yearly to expose you to specific urban qualities such as:

  • housing and social equity
  • regeneration
  • creative cities and economic rise
  • participation
  • planning.

Cities visited have included Amsterdam, Lisbon, Rotterdam.


Assessment methods used on this course

Assessment combines group work and individual projects and can include:

  • reports
  • design posters
  • videos
  • oral and visual presentations. 

You will engage with studio tutors and professional practitioners when delivering your assessed work. This process allows for professional quality output.


Our teaching staff provide support for student research. They are actively involved in the following areas of research:

For more information visit Land Design and Development (LDD)

After you graduate

Career prospects

Our graduates have very high success rates in gaining employment and have secured posts in the public sector, private consultancy, the voluntary sector, and research and teaching areas.

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.