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Urban Design

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2020



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.


School of the Built Environment


Accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) when combined with the PGDip in Spatial Planning.

  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  • 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

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time
£7,630 (Masters); £6,160 (Diploma); £2,580 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time
£860 per single module

International full time

Home/EU full time
£8,000 (Masters); £7,000 (Diploma); £4,000 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time
£890 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

Home/EU full time
£7,630 (Masters); £6,160 (Diploma); £2,580 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time
£860 per single module

International full time

Home/EU full time
£8,000 (Masters); £7,000 (Diploma); £4,000 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time
£890 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.

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

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, if any, are detailed below.

Please note that whilst we try to keep costs to a minimum, you will be required to pay for materials and printing associated with course work. These should amount to no more than £150 over the programme.

No specific equipment is required, although a reasonable laptop may be useful to undertake assignments off campus.

Learning and assessment

Your modules in semesters 1 and 2 each include:

  • Design Studio
  • theory
  • practice
  • output.

In the summer term you will focus on research by:

  • advancing and testing a design studio project
  • focusing on your own selected topic or urban issue which can be located in any country or city of choice. 

On completion of your Semester 1 modules you will be awarded the PG Certificate (PGCert).

On completion of your Semester 2 modules you will be awarded the PG Diploma (PGDip).

On completion of your dissertation in the summer term you will be awarded the MA in Urban Design.

Student creating a wall display

Study modules

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.

Semester 1

Compulsory modules

Contemporary approaches to master-planning and the design of the public realm

  • Design Studio: Contemporary approaches to master-planning and the design of the public realm applied to a live site. As in practice, master-planning engages group discussions, negotiations and a communal effort to produce. This progresses to individual design projects for detailing the public realm of a section of the masterplan.
  • Theory: Current theories on the shaping of urban form are integrated and tested in the design proposal:
  • Practice: Tools for critical and reflective analysis are introduced and used in the design process:
  • Output: This stage produces portfolio quality masterplans which address contemporary issues of concern across a range of settlement types and scales. It integrates theories and practical tools for the production of urban form which are applied in the professional field. The individual projects allow for the detailed design of a public realm taking the masterplan a stage further and in a different design scale.

Semester 2

Compulsory modules

Urban form in challenging context

  • Design Studio: Urban form in challenging context. This studio expands urban design to the international and future context of settlements focusing on urban intensification. Cities from all over the world are analysed for qualities and principles that deliver good places when undergoing intensification. The group masterplan tests urban form undergoing a range of densities and is analysed for the threshold for urban quality and intensity. Individual public realm design projects are worked on at the level of street detailing and the building scale.
  • Theory: International urban theories for design and planning:
  • Research: Methods for engaging in urban design research:
  • Output: Masterplan and public realm design of an international or UK site addressing urban intensification; essay covering international theories on urban form applied to your city or issues of choice; design project focusing on advanced theories of urban form; research proposal for dissertation stage.

Final project

Compulsory modules


Research by advancing and testing design studio project OR your own selected topic or urban issue which can be located in any country or city of choice.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that 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 Urban Design at Oxford Brookes.

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.