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Urban Design, Planning and Development

BA (Hons) - single

School of the Built Environment

Accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) when combined with the Postgraduate Diploma in Planning, or MSc in Spatial Planning.

What will you study

This course teaches you how to meet the challenges of designing sustainable urban places. Our unique teaching and learning approach, based on a structure of Urban Labs, interconnected modules and study trips in the UK and abroad, helps you to make the connections between theory and practice. You will study infrastructure, economics, heritage, placemaking, sustainability and globalisation and we will ensure that you are prepared for work.

What next?

Our students have been employed by companies such as Barton Willmore,Savills, Arup, AECOM, central and local government both in the UK and internationally, plus the voluntary sector and research organisations. Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) requires either a masters degree or students have to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Planning. You are given the support needed to gain employment through portfolio development and employer introductions.


Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: 3 years
  • Part time: 6 years

UCAS code


For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • This course is based on an innovative structure of stimulating Urban Labs that offer a learning environment and experience that simulates professional practice.
  • Our modules make use of visiting speakers and live projects to provide you with the opportunities to apply theory to practice.
  • You will experience strong integration between the disciplines of urban design, planning and development providing a clear framework for you to understand how to impact the future of cities and create great places.
  • The course integrates research and consultancy from the School of the Built Environment which are nationally and internationally recognised for their high quality and impact.
  • We have a strong tradition of incorporating innovative teaching and learning practices: "It was very encouraging to see how Brookes’ approach to teaching involves the students in applying theory to real problems, and to see the students involved in projects with such an international reach (President of The Royal Town Planning Institute, RTPI Newsletter, Summer 2013)".
  • Accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) when combined with the Postgraduate Diploma in Planning.  

Year 1

During the first year you will learn how economic, political and social processes affect change in cities and how they impact and are impacted by urban form and the experiences of a diverse population. You will understand how the concept of sustainability and urban development processes can guide and impact the delivery of commercial, residential and mixed-use developments. You will also learn how architecture and open space design can be used to deliver attractive and inclusive places which promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Through all your projects you will engage with the legal, institutional and policy frameworks within which planners, urban designers, developers and other built environment professionals work.

Year 2

In the second year you will develop a fuller understanding of how policies, actors and agencies come together to create cities and the role of the built environment professional in mediating and shaping urban transformations. You will develop an understanding of how policy is made and the links between planning and urban design policies and outcomes in the UK and internationally. You will learn approaches to managing and developing change in cities such as urban regeneration and heritage conservation and masterplanning. In the first you will learn methodologies for engaging with public participation and working with heritage conservation and housing. In the second you will understand how environmental decision making and viability and planning appraisals can be brought together with urban design methodologies to produce a commercially viable masterplan for a selected site.

Year 3

In Year 3 the focus moves to regional, strategic and metropolitan scales and the broader context of global urbanism. You will learn about major infrastructure planning across the UK and Europe. You will critically engage with globalisation drawing out the challenges of urban futures and associated implications for urban design, planning and policy responses and development processes. You will engage with current debates and learn about methods and skills of research that are applicable in urban design, planning and development to conduct a research project on a substantial contemporary issue. A key feature of the last year is to prepare you for the professional work environment and to proceed to the fourth postgraduate year to gain full RTPI accreditation. Within the Professional Practice module you will understand and experience the dynamics of a work environment and the roles that Built Environment professionals play in dealing with problems and opportunities within a practical context.

Across the course you will develop skills in multiple methods of gathering, analysing and presenting data including drawings, photographs, mapping, GIS, diagrams, data visualisation and report writing.

Study modules

Year 1 modules - all compulsory

  • Cities in a Historical Context
  • Urban Diversity: People, Society and Space
  • Urban Lab 1: Urban Design and Place Experience

  • Development Processes and Site Delivery
  • Sustainability and Development
  • Urban Lab 2: Architecture and Open Space Design

Years 2 and 3 modules - all compulsory

  • Mediating Change: Governance, Politics and Social Actors
  • Plans and Policy Making
  • Urban Lab 3: Urban Regeneration and Heritage Conservation

  • Environmental Decision Making: Theory and Practice
  • Urban Development: Economic and Financial Appraisal
  • Urban Lab 4 Urban Design Masterplanning

  • Strategic Planning and Policy
  • Research Methods
  • Urban Lab 5: Global City Design, Planning and Development

  • Contemporary Debates in Planning, Design and Development
  • Professional Practice
  • Research Project

As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you choose from may vary from the ones shown here.

Year 1

Cities in Historical Contexts - introduces you to the complex character and dimensions of urban development and change examining how cities change over time in the context of both broader economic, political, social and cultural changes and specific urban land development processes.

Urban Diversity: People, Society and Space - focuses on the study of the contemporary city and the way it is experienced by different social groups examining a number of themes as ways of explaining the processes underlying urban diversity and built form.

Urban Lab 1: Urban Design and Place Experience - introduce s you to the role of spatial planning, urban design and urban development in creating better places through an exploration of contemporary challenges faced by built environment professionals at different scales.

Development Processes and Site Delivery - focus on the way that the development sector delivers commercial, residential and mixed-use developments and associated planning obligations and community infrastructure levy contributions.

Sustainability and Development - introduces you to the concept of sustainability in its broader concept and in relation to urban development.

Urban Lab 2: Architecture and Open Space Design - seeks to develop basic planning, design and development thinking and communication skills appropriate to architectural (plot and building typologies) and small scale public space (the home patch and the home zone).

Years 2 and 3

Mediating Change: Governance, Politics and Social Actors - examines the interrelationships of UK spatial planning and its associated political and governance networks, at the local, regional, national and European levels while also exploring comparative planning and related systems.

Plans and Policy Making - examines the development of policies and plans within specific political contexts at the local level and giving you an in depth appreciation of the planning policy process and the skills needed to generate successful policies.

Urban Lab 3: Urban Regeneration and Heritage Conservation - introduces you to current regeneration theory, policy and practice in an international context, as well as giving you the opportunity to devise your own regeneration strategies for a particular site.

Environmental Decision Making: Theory and Practice - examines some of the theories that can be used to explain the way environmental decisions are made from the perspective of individuals, organisations and institutions.

Urban Development: Economic & Financial Appraisal - provides a course of study with an explicit planning and property development process focus.

Urban Lab 4 Urban Design Masterplanning - aims to develop your understanding and ability to apply the fundamental concepts of contemporary urban design masterplanning within the context of the UK planning and development processes and international best practice.

Strategic Planning and Policy - examines the nature of and the varied approaches to strategic planning and policy including the impact of major infrastructure

Research Methods - provides you with a practical knowledge of the methods and skills of research that are applicable in planning, development and design.

Urban Lab 5: Global City Design, Planning and Development - aims to engage your critical analysis, independent thinking and professional skills to understand and work in the challenging context of the global city.

Contemporary Debates in Planning, Design and Development - examines key contemporary and emerging issues in planning, design and development and provides you with an opportunity for in-depth reading, critical reflection and debate around major questions of theory and practice.

Professional Practice - develops an understanding of ethical and professional conduct as required for practice and as set out in assessments of professional conduct for the RICS and RTPI promoting and assessing effective communication, self-confidence, time management and self-motivation.

Research Project - provides you with a structured and supportive environment to carry out a small-scale, research project on a topic of their choice.

Field trips

There is one mandatory residential field trip (either abroad or in the UK), with the cost of travel and accommodation covered by your tuition fees. A separate fee will apply for any optional field trips or site visits within other modules.

Study abroad

Great opportunities to study or work abroad

You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year.

Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:

  • increasing your employability within an international market
  • boosting your language skills
  • building your confidence in adapting to new situations
  • improving your knowledge of different cultures.

While on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree.

We have more than 100 partner universities around the world. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards.

There is also a European work placement programme which gives you the chance to work abroad as part of your studies.

For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Additional costs

Our tuition fees cover the cost of delivering your course, and are payable annually. Further costs may be incurred by you, including:

  • personal computer (cost varies)
  • drawing equipment (around £50)
  • printing and model making: although access to our model making workshop is free, you need to source your own materials. It is wise to budget £50 for build materials for model making and £100 for printing over the year. These figures should be seen as a guide as the actual cost can vary depending on your area of interest, the materials and print quality you choose.
  • contributions to subsistence for the international field trip in year 2;
  • apart from the international field trip many courses include optional field trips, where participation is encouraged but not required to evidence module or programme learning outcomes and will not disadvantage you should you not be able to take part. These optional activities are at additional cost to you.

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.

Teaching and learning

Learning and teaching in the BA in Urban Design, Planning and Development includes a variety of activities that enable us to deliver theoretical and practice-based content and support you to develop the knowledge and the skills needed to engage in professional practice. These activities are delivered through a consistent structure of single and double modules (‘Urban Labs’).

  • Lectures introduce key concepts, theories and current issues regarding the planning, design and development of cities. You will be exposed to a range of perspectives from academic staff and guest lectures by visiting professionals. 
  • Seminars provide a stimulating environment for debates, group discussion and testing of theoretical ideas. Seminars are usually related to the content developed in lectures or acquired through readings of relevant literature and the media.
  • Workshops (including in-Lab Training) provide the opportunity to develop practical work and learn professional skills within a project-led environment.
  • Studios provide the setting for project development. They are an intrinsic part of the Urban Labs and provide key opportunities for feedback and for testing of how theoretical ideas can be applied in practice. ‘Charrettes’ are short, focused design work and take part either in studios or outside the university at the project site, usually involving work with the clients (for example communities, private and public practice professionals).
  • Presentations are an intrinsic part of the course and also key instances for feedback. Presentations enable you to practice the communication skills that essential for effective professionals, including the clear explanation of ideas and concepts to clients. 
  • Site visits and field trips provide you with the opportunity to learn from experiencing a variety of urban contexts. Visits include case studies that represent best practice and varied professional environments.
  • The Induction is an important part of the programme with a set of learning resources placed in an online environment and offered as part of the induction pack. This is not compulsory and does not provide essential knowledge but serves as a useful resource to improve your experience of and engagement with the course.

Approximately 50% of the course involves project-led modules (often delivered through a live project) including the research project module which you will take in your last year. This allows you to deepen your understanding of the subject by applying theory and provides several opportunities to practice professional and academic skills in a practice-based environment.

In a typical week, your time will be divided between attending two single modules (usually a mixture of lectures, seminars or workshops spread over three hours a week per module) and one Urban Lab (usually a mixture of lectures, in-Lab training workshops and studio time spread over six hours a week). Outside the module contact hours, you will undertake independent learning (for example, library visits, research, face to face and online individual and group collaborative learning) and develop your coursework assignments.

Approach to assessment

Our programme team considers the process of assessing and giving you feedback on your coursework as a continuous process with several instances of formative feedback. We support you to successfully achieve the learning outcomes so whenever you arrive at one of the assessment checkpoints (usually interim presentations, tutorials or interim crits), you are given formative feedback and time to act on it so that you can successfully progress. This approach, which combines formative and summative assessment and feedback, is especially important within the Urban Labs as they are larger modules. Throughout the Urban Labs and within the single modules you are given feedback on your work so that you have a clear idea of how well you are doing in achieving what is expected and how you can improve your learning and results. Staggered summative assessment points provide the flexibility needed in this larger module to complete learning progression.

The programme is  based on 100% coursework, which enables us to deliver a strong and clear structure of formative feedback and assessment, which focuses on development of knowledge and skills. A variety of coursework types is used so that you can develop and practice different skills. Examples include: essays, reflective work (essay, diaries), professional planning and urban design reports (presented either in printed or digital formats), design work and oral presentations. To successfully complete a module you should pass all significant pieces of assessment.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2018/19: £9,250. 2019/20: £9,250.

Home/EU - part time fee: 2018/19: £750 per single module. 2019/20: £750 per single module.

International - full time: 2018/19: £13,150 2019/20: £13,410

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

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 in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see:

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112

A-Level: BBC

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. This combination of A-level grades would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

IB Diploma: 31 points


Applications are welcomed from candidates with alternative qualifications, and from mature students.

Specific entry requirements

GCSE: English and Mathematics at grade C / 4

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

Selection process

We value the personal statement. In this we are looking for evidence of motivation and commitment: what interests you about the subject and why you want to study it. 

After reading personal statements and considering predicted grades, all eligible applicants are required to attend a pre-offer event day hosted by the Faculty, to offer insight & engagement about the course. If invited to one of these, we usually do not make offers without meeting you. However, in exceptional circumstances a meeting by phone or Skype may be arranged.

The events will usually be hosted between November and mid-March. If you cannot attend the first suggested date offered to you, there can be provision to attend alternatives - please be communicative with the Faculty Programme Administrator.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an  international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our  pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

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.

How to apply

International applicants

Apply direct »

For full-time study you can also apply through UCAS.

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.

Credit transfer

Oxford Brookes operates the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Why Oxford is a great place to study this course

As a student in Oxford you'll be at the heart of the UK's most successful economic region and in a centre for leading industries, which will provide you with a host of work placement and other learning opportunities. Oxford is an outstanding place to study the built environment, from large-scale urban developments to world-famous historic architecture. It is also just over an hour from London and international airports allowing you wider opportunities for experiencing urban development in a globalised and international context.

Social and experiential learning are very important parts of your student experience. Oxford offers plenty of opportunities for that with a vibrant urban environment with plenty of attractions for its large student population, from theatres and cinemas to museums, art galleries and music venues. A bustling and stunning cosmopolitan city, Oxford has excellent shopping, restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs.

Support for students studying Urban Design, Planning and Development


An introduction to the use of library resources will provided by the Subject Librarian during induction week.

The Oxford Brookes Library has three sites. The Gipsy Lane (Headington) Library will provide a useful starting point for most of your enquiries. The Library at Headington has a range of planning, urban design, urban development and other social science texts and journals that will be useful. The University Library has an additional service point at the Wheatley campus that serves the business and technology degree programmes and which is also a valuable source of material. Harcourt Hill Library specialises in education, theology, human development, communication, sport and performing arts.

The on­line library search facility indicates at which Library material is located and has a reservation facility for the material to be delivered to a location other than the one where the publications are normally held.

Students may use all Libraries. Most of the book stock is available for loan for one or two weeks, although there are reference copies of certain key works. Books in heavy demand are also placed in the Short Loan collection and may be borrowed for up to four hours or twenty ­four hours at a time, or overnight. More than 2,000 periodical titles are received and there are back runs of many of these.

A library network is available in the Libraries and in the University's pooled computer rooms, which enables students to access an extensive range of electronic bibliographic databases and the Internet. The Library's computerised catalogue enables students to find books and other materials in the libraries on particular topics, as well as by author and title.

The Subject Librarian for Urban Planning, Design and Development is Dan Croft.

IT and Printing Facilities

Brookes Print Anywhere is a service that enables students and staff to print securely from their desktop, laptop, mobile phone or tablet on formats up to A3.

For larger (e.g. A1) and specialist (e.g 3D printer) formats you can use the Print Room (AB305, 3rd Floor Abercrombie in Department of Architecture).

Model Making Facilities

For model making you can use the workshop which is located at the John Payne building in Department of Architecture.

The Graphics Studio

Provides high quality graphics facility for staff and students through a range of specialist graphics packages free of charge, running on powerful, Windows PCs and Apple Macs. The Graphics Studio also offers 1:1 tuition through student tutors.

Learning Environments

There are three main learning environments that support the development of the programme:

  • the range of lecturing rooms within the university which are all equipped with up to date facilities supporting the use of the media required by both lecturers and students.
  • the Urban Labs which are studio spaces designed to host all activities of the Urban labs modules.
  • the Brookes Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle - see section 4.1 of this handbook) which hosts programme and module information, additional learning resources, web links, discussion forums, etc; A variety of modules also offer online collaborative learning environments (for example Facebook, Twitter) in parallel to the physical space of the Urban Labs or classrooms.

The Urban Labs are located on the second floor of the Abercrombie building and create well defined studio spaces for dedicated but integrated teaching and learning activities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The layout of the Urban Labs help engaging students in the creative process of learning and at the same time provide them with the experience of working in a professional space. The layout encourages students to take ownership of the spaces and to develop and express their identity throughout.

The Urban Labs are equipped with up-to-date software - including CAD and the Adobe Suite - to meet the programme and industry requirements.

Specialist facilities

Semester Teams

Every semester you will be supported by the team of lecturers that lead the modules in that semester. The team works together to make sure the content of the modules are integrated and your are able to make the connection between the subjects and between theory and practice.

General support services

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Career prospects

You will have developed the knowledge and skills sought after by leading companies in the urban design, planning and development industry. You will be skilled to work in private or public sectors, charities, NGOs, local communities, research centres, government and educational institutions for example. Your graduate profile will provide you with a flexibility of choice and a range of experiences to enable you to work in the UK and international job market.

Further study

For those wishing to obtain membership of the RTPI it is necessary to complete either a PG Diploma in Planning or the MSc in Spatial Planning. These can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. 

We offer the best in postgraduate research degree teaching, with a wide range of relevant, well-structured courses, and our thriving research culture provides a friendly and supportive community in which to undertake a research degree.

The Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD), based at Oxford Brookes, is the largest academic research institute in the UK dedicated to research on sustainable development in the built environment. It comprises active teams of researchers who focus on the environment, cities, international land markets and architecture, culture and technology.

We have led or contributed to reviews of national planning, transport, housing and environmental policy guidance, sustainable building specifications, and valuation standards which presently affect our town and country areas including building design and construction processes.