Urban Design, Planning and Development

BA (Hons)

Clearing places are available on this course

UCAS code: KK42

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years

Part time: 6 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of the Built Environment

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Create cities for the future. Explore urban design, planning and development as you find creative and innovative ideas that address the challenges of today’s society.

Our course includes live projects from day 1 to equip you for a career in the industry. You’ll find out what being a working professional is like and gain experience of interpreting a brief, presenting to clients and getting feedback.

By following our project-based modules, you’ll be considering the true impact of your design in the real world. You’ll learn how to masterplan and consider how your proposals impact the development or the regeneration of an area and its environmental, social and economic sustainability. By graduation, you’ll have worked for at least 5 different clients through our live projects and developed a range of skills – even film making.

You’ll get a thorough grounding in theoretical knowledge thanks to the strong research background of our teaching staff. Plus, the portfolio which we help you develop along the course will impress future employers with the opportunities you’ve been engaged with.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Practical live projects
    Gain experience of real-world assignments. By the end of the course, you’ll have a track record of working with clients and the skills to step straight into a role.
  • Study trip overseas
    Explore with our international study trip to places like the Netherlands, Portugal or Ireland. Visit field studios, examine case studies or explore sites in the UK.
  • Digital portfolio
    Develop an online portfolio from your first project onwards so you can highlight the clients you’ve worked for. A great way to impress future employers.
  • Visiting speakers
    Listen to our high-profile guest speakers with a wide range of expertise from open space design, ecology or sustainable mobility.  
  • Proactive student society
    Get involved with our lively student society who not only put on engaging social events but also have direct input into the curriculum. Visit the UrbOx Instagram page.
  • Free language courses

    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.

  • Study 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. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

  • Accreditation(s)

    Accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and The Royal Town Planning Institute

    • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
    • The Royal Town Planning Institute

Course details

Course structure

We make sure all our modules are set in a real-world context. You’ll go from understanding the principles of open space design to dealing with the challenges of planning a global city.

This means as you design public spaces, you’ll also consider the social and environmental sustainability and the economic feasibility of your proposals.

Our live projects complement our modules so you can put theory into practice. You’ll consider how to create better places for different social groups, what heritage conservation means in real life or how to protect local identity. You could be working on a project here in Oxford, at a London borough or liaising with a client further afield.

In your final year, you can focus on a subject you care about when you complete a research project on a topic of your choice. Topics have included; developing strategies for more inclusive open spaces for women, analysing how property prices are affected by sustainable mobility policies, or how the use of colour in housing developments can positively impact residents' health and wellbeing.

Urban Design, Planning and Development

Learning and teaching

Our teaching gives you the skills you need for professional practice. You will gain practical and theoretical knowledge through single and double modules (‘Urban Labs’).

You will learn through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • project-led workshops
  • site visits and field trips
  • presentations.

You will experience working with clients such as communities or private practice professionals through "Charrettes”. Charrettes are short, focused design work, which take place in studios or project sites.

You will learn through project-led modules for 50 % of your course. In a typical week, you will attend:

  • two single modules (a mixture of lectures, seminars or workshops)
  • one Urban Lab (a mixture of lectures, in-Lab training workshops and studio time).


Assessment is 100 % coursework. We use a variety of coursework types so that you can develop different skills, these include:

  • essays
  • reflective work (essays, diaries)
  • professional planning
  • urban design reports
  • design work
  • oral presentations.

We give you consistent feedback throughout your Urban Labs and single modules. You will have a clear idea of how well you are doing, and how you can improve your learning and results.

Field Trips

There is one mandatory residential field trip (either abroad or in the UK), this trip is mandatory and comes at no additional cost. A separate fee will apply for any optional field trips or site visits within other modules.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Cities in Historical Contexts

    This is your introduction to the complex character and dimensions of urban development and change. You will examine the concept of city and how cities change in shape over time in the context of both broader economic, political, social and cultural changes and specific urban land development processes. You’ll also look at changes in land use and built environment in British Cities, covering the major phases of urban growth and change from pre-industrial to post-industrial eras. 

    You’ll develop urban morphology, the study of urban form, as a basis to explore historical transformations in the built environment. You will also build your knowledge of particular examples of urban form with development histories of varying complexity.

  • Urban Diversity: People, Society and Space

    You will focus on the contemporary city and the way it is experienced by different social groups. You’ll explore sources of difference and division in cities such as:

    • income
    • gender
    • age
    • ethnicity
    • disability 

    and you’ll look at who belongs in and who is excluded from the city. You’ll also look at how different social groups experience the spaces of the cities. While examining a number of themes as ways of explaining the processes underlying such diversity and how it interacts with the built form. This will include social, political and economic forces for example

    • social exclusion
    • the operation of the housing market
    • globalisation 
    • different identities and lifestyles. 

    You’ll build your knowledge of urban policy interventions and whether policy can promote greater equality.

  • Urban Lab 1: Urban Design and Place Experience

    Study 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. You will explore planning, design and development and you’ll look at the legislative and policy frameworks for planning at a national and local level.

    You’ll examine key theoretical concepts in urban design which will be developed in subsequent Urban Labs. Also you’ll look at urban research methodologies that you’ll develop and use throughout the programme. Oxford will be the ‘live lab’ for building your understanding of how theories and methodologies can be integrated into practical project-based exercises. Also you’ll explore and understand what (product and processes) make good places in different scales.

  • Sustainability and Development

    How can we build sustainable environments in which we can live, work and relax? In this module, you’ll learn about sustainability and the three overlapping issues of sustainable development - environmental, social and economic. You’ll examine how infrastructure and resource-use affect the sustainability of England’s built and natural environment.

    You’ll gain knowledge of the land-use planning system in England, and how it can help to deliver a more sustainable environment. You'll explore sustainable development through a broad focus, to consider bio-physical components (land, water, biodiversity, buildings), social issues (such as quality of life and equity) and economic issues (such as how to understand the value the environment brings to a sustainable economy).

  • Development Processes and Site Delivery

    Focus on the development sector and how it delivers commercial, residential and mixed-use developments and also meets the planning obligations and community infrastructure levy contributions. 

    You’ll build an understanding of development viability for planning purposes. Also you will gain key insight of market value and land value as a key benchmark for investors in all areas of 

    • land transaction
    • development
    • investment.

    Along with an understanding of how any assessment of viability will be based on obtaining a market risk adjusted return and how market conditions are assessed. You’ll get to apply a set of professional guidance notes to case studies to develop an objective understanding and evaluation of financial viability in a planning context.

  • Urban Lab 2: Architecture and Open Space Design

    Develop your basic planning, design and development thinking and communication skills - for architectural (plot and building typologies) and small scale public space (the home patch and the home zone). You will build your spatial understanding of the relationships between planning processes, inclusive urban form and sustainable lifestyles and behaviour. 

    You’ll be introduced to the notions of urban design quality for a mixed use development that is a sustainable development. Your project will be centred in a planning and development framework and will help you build your skills to analyse applicable policies and development issues including considerations on viability.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Mediating Change: Governance, Politics and Social Actors

    You’ll examine 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. You will explore the evolution of planning systems and highlight important issues such as the:

    • rise of multi-level governance, 
    • shifts in the spatial focus of planning including localism
    • forms of governance and agency through which planning and other interventions are achieved. 

    Also you’ll explore the different stakeholders involved, the relations of power and inequality between them and the role of the planner in mediating between these interests. You will use the conceptual tools to understand this complex landscape and build your knowledge of your future role within it as environment professionals as well as developing your practical tools in negotiation and communication.

  • Plans and Policy Making

    You’ll examine the development of policies and plans within specific political contexts at the local level focusing on the National Planning Policy Framework, Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans. You’ll build a deep appreciation and understanding of the planning policy process and the work needed to generate successful policies. 

    You’ll investigate the different approaches to policy and plan making, developing your knowledge of both. Also you will look at the role of the professional planner and the relationship between planners and elected councillors in the context of decision making in planning at a local level. Through case studies you’ll explore the key issues in planning for housing and build further understanding of how planning policy is used to deliver development.

  • Urban Lab 3: Urban Regeneration and Heritage Conservation

    Study current regeneration theory, policy and practice in an international context, as well as taking the opportunity to devise your own regeneration strategies for a particular site. You’ll critically explore regeneration as a concept, looking at competing definitions and strategies and placing these within contemporary academic debates about global urban policy and policy mobility. Investigate revitalising urban areas alongside other approaches to regeneration; you’ll develop the skills and opportunity to critically evaluate the impact of different regeneration strategies. 

    You’ll analyse and explore regeneration initiatives from around the world through an international field trip and in workshops and presentations. Also you’ll be able to apply your gained knowledge and skills to your own regeneration proposals for a particular site in London Docklands.

  • Environmental Decision Making: Theory and Practice

    Examine theories that can be used to explain the way environmental decisions are made from the perspective of individuals, organisations and institutions. You’ll explore decision-making tools and approaches:

    • Multi Criteria Analysis
    • Strategic Environmental Assessment
    • Sustainability Appraisal
    • Environmental Management Systems

    also including the associated regulatory and policy framework that underpins them. You will focus upon the theory and practice of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the decision-making processes associated with the planning, design, and development of major projects like:

    • urban extensions
    • mixed use development
    • wind farms
    • waste disposal facilities
    • and mineral extraction projects.
  • Urban Development: Economic and Financial Appraisal

    You’ll study with an explicit planning and property development process focus. You will look at linking and applying economic concepts and planning instruments to development processes, particularly appraisal techniques used in land, residential and property development decision-making in Britain and in continental Europe. 

    You will develop an understanding of economic and other relationships between markets, the key actors in development, as well as fiscal and planning policies. You’ll gain a thorough understanding of the planning and property development process from site identification, development appraisal, engaging with and contesting the planning process, and development decision-making.

  • Urban Lab 4: Urban Design Masterplanning

    Develop your understanding and the 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.  

    You’ll examine current approaches and trends to master planning for new development areas. Also you’ll create a final master plan and a supporting Design and Access Statement using concepts that link physical design with issues of visual perception and environmental psychology, and addressing key issues such as: 

    • density and intensity (land use)
    • transport and mobility (public transport, walkability, cycleability, accessibility, connectivity)
    • waste management at local level.

    Including urban design qualities (e.g.) diversity, resilience, vitality. Your resultant masterplan is then subject to a financial and planning viability appraisal using techniques you will have developed on the module Urban Development: Economic and Financial Appraisal.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Strategic Planning and Policy

    Look into the world of strategic planning and policy, and explore how these strategies link to major infrastructure planning, especially with the evolving approaches in the UK.You'll examine various contexts within Britain, and you'll even get to work on project assignments that help you understand how planning can address future challenges in different places.

    This is a dynamic field, with strategic planning thriving in London, Combined Authority planning and Sub National Transport Bodies planning taking shape in the rest of England, and the National Infrastructure Commission coming into play. It's not just crucial in the UK but also in other European countries.

    Get ready to explore and understand the ever-changing landscape of strategic planning and policy in the real world.

  • Research Methods

    This module will help you to:

    • Understand different research strategies and designs.
    • Learn about both quantitative and qualitative research methods.
    • Develop skills in collecting, analysing, and integrating various types of data.
    • Grasp the ethics of research and your responsibility to research participants.

    It's all about building research literacy, which means you'll become skilled at critically assessing research and even designing your own small-scale research project. This knowledge is directly applicable to planning, policy-making, and design in the built and natural environment.

    You'll also gain a critical awareness of research methods, preparing you for both academic and professional research projects. You'll learn how to select and apply the right research methods for specific research problems. You’ll also be prepared for your upcoming research project.

  • Urban Lab 5: Global City Design, Planning and Development

    You will explore scenarios, from developed to developing world cities, and examine the tensions that arise, such as the clash between globalisation and local identity, property market dynamics versus local housing needs, and the complex balance between social exclusion and inclusion, mobility, and stagnation.

    You'll also look into issues related to development pressures and the need for sustainable infrastructure, including transport and energy, on a regional level.We'll also look into the institutional, political, and legal frameworks that shape these cities, providing you with the necessary context. 

    You'll apply everything you've learned from previous Urban Labs, from critical analysis and visual communication to problem-solving. You'll also explore challenges and issues drawn from previous modules, all within the context of a global city.

  • Contemporary Debates in Planning, Design and Development

    You’ll study the latest and most pressing issues in planning, design, and development. It's an opportunity for you to dive deep, reflect critically, and engage in lively debates on the most significant questions in theory and practice.

    1. You'll attend lectures where our staff, along with guest speakers, will share their insights on contemporary and emerging topics in our field.
    2. Small group tutorials will provide you with a platform for in-depth discussions with your module tutors.
    3. We've got a series of structured debates where you'll learn to defend or challenge various stances on key issues.

    You’ll expand your knowledge, building upon what you've learned in previous modules. Progressing a deeper understanding of the ever-evolving landscape of planning, design, and development. You'll critically engage with the most current issues in these fields, adapting to changes in the real-world UK and international practices and the associated policy and academic discourse.

  • Professional Practice

    Our main goal here is to blend the knowledge you've gained in your course with the ethical and professional conduct essential for practice, especially as outlined by the RICS and RTPI.

    Throughout this module, you'll have opportunities to showcase your understanding and skills in handling diverse and complex situations. We're here to help you refine your ability to reflect, communicate effectively, and demonstrate qualities like self-confidence, time management, and self-motivation.

    These personal and interpersonal skills are critical competencies required by all those aiming to become members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

  • Research Project

    Welcome to this double module that opens the door to your very own research project. You get to pick the topic, and don't worry, you won't be doing it alone. A dedicated tutor will guide you throughout the project, which spans two semesters.

    Before you dive into your research, we'll give you the previous semester to choose your topic and submit a project proposal for approval.

    This project is your chance to explore a specialised area of your interest in a structured and analytical way. Your ultimate goal is to:

    1. Create a substantial academic report at a publication level.
    2. Critically apply research methods.
    3. Build specialised knowledge in the field of planning, development, or a related discipline.

    Start this project of discovery and research, and remember, your tutor is there to support you every step of the way.

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.


The breadth of our curriculum enables you to work in any of the 3 areas – urban design, planning or development. You could follow a career in the public sector with local authorities or with private developers and consultancies.

Previous graduates have found jobs with companies such as DLA, Savills, AECOM and the UK government.
Due to our proactive collaboration with industry, you’ll have gained valuable experience throughout the course and developed skills sought after by employers. This means you’ll be able to apply for a range of positions in the UK or internationally in:   

  • charities 
  • NGOs
  • local communities
  • research centres
  • government institutions
  • educational establishments.

Some students go on to postgraduate study in subjects such as urban design planning or heritage conservation.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Dr Graham Wood

Graham's teaching interests include environmental assessment and management; GIS and information technology in environmental planning and management; environmental decision-making; and research methods.

Read more about Graham

Entry requirements

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

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27


Further offer details

We welcome applications from candidates with alternative qualifications, and from mature students.

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400


Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

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.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

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.