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Course content

Working across the disciplines of architecture, art and cultural geography, our Architectural and Urban Design MA combines critical debate and creative practice to help you develop as a designer who will plan the urban environments of the future.

You will benefit from a supportive studio environment, two field trips and a variety of workshops and seminars, taught by active practitioners in architecture and urban design. You will engage with research on the analysis of cities and lead your own projects, speculating as to how cities will evolve and be used in the future.

The course is highly experimental and aims to stretch your imagination and critical ability. You will produce innovative portfolios and learn about the issues of global urban environments, expanding your knowledge beyond the usual subject boundaries.

Academic context

Urbanism and urban design are ambiguous terms that surround and reflect both the physical and mental attributes applied to the built environment.

The material of roads, pavements, buildings, railways, bridges and so on represents the physical. The mental is represented by narratives, histories, personal perceptions and anticipations.

The two sensibilities combine to form a layered knowledge of the city, which could be compared to a mature palimpsest or to semi-obscured archaeology. In this context, we study the city with emphasis on the space of the private realm and its seamless engagement with the public domain.

Take a look at our architecture and interior architecture blogand our 2016 yearbook, which documents student work from across our architecture courses.

Why study with us?

  • Experimental course that stretches your imagination and critical ability.
  • Focus on the urban realm: the experiential aspect of cities and the gap between planned and lived.
  • Field trips to cities including London, Berlin, Marseille, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
  • Teaching staff who are also practitioners in architecture and urban design.
  • Guest lectures from leading figures such as Anthony McCall, Stefano Rabolli Pansera, Katy Beinart and Peter Clash.
  • Alumni network of professional architects, academics and urban designers.

Making sure that what you learn with us is relevant, up to date and what employers are looking for is our priority, so courses are reviewed and enhanced on an ongoing basis. When you have applied to us, you’ll be told about any new developments through our applicant portal.

Areas of study

The course is taught over 3 semesters over 12 months.

Design 1: Urban Strategies

This module introduces you to design strategies, methods and issues pertinent to your design studio, helping you to explore the potential of different approaches to design. There is a strong emphasis on the development of conceptual ideas and their correlation with the development of design strategy, helping you to articulate your individual position as a design practitioner.

Design 2

Design 2 aims to consolidate and extend the priorities, ideas and strategies established in Design 1. You will explore architectural and urban ideas in more depth and complexity. The emphasis here is on curiosity and speculation, supporting the development of methods to help with enquiry, reflection and debate.

Independent Project

The independent project runs concurrently and is concerned with your identification of places of ‘conflict’ and negotiations of space. The module encourages experimentation in a specific field of study. Students have developed projects in fields of architectural and artistic practice, creative design, techniques of communication or new technologies.

Critical Readings

The Critical Readings module will develop your skills in critical practice through an analysis of cultural, historical, theoretical and practical issues in architecture. It provides the opportunity to carry out initial investigations into the ideas that will drive your Masterwork project.

Research Skills and Training

Research Skills and Training introduces you to the challenges involved in designing, implementing and disseminating a research project. You will develop a written proposal that can inform the development of your Masterwork project, encouraging you to consider how your investigations contribute to the academic knowledge in your field.


The Masterwork is the final stage of study, requiring you to perform as a self-reflective critical researcher and lay down the foundations for innovation in your future practice. You will develop your project from an agreed research proposal, which may be either a text-based dissertation or a design-led research project with critical reflection. You will be asked to focus the areas of interest that have developed in your previous practice and studies, identify research questions and develop research methods, bringing critical investigation and creative responses together.


  • You will benefit from a new Masters Centre including studio space, tutorial areas and shared creative spaces.
  • Modelling and construction workshops: timber and metal, dedicated 'wet' modelling bay, plastic dying facility, drill press, spray booth, vacuum former, strip bender, plastics oven, hot wire cutter and spot welder; further workshops available by arrangement with rapid prototyping and laser cutter.
  • IT facilities include 3D paper and printer, plotters, scanners and a reprographics suite.
  • Software includes Adobe suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat Professional), VW2010, Cinem 4D, Premiere, Blender, AutoCAD, Maya and Rhino.
  • Library facilities include additional computing equipment, digital and hard copy specialist library facilities, and specialist collections.

Careers and employability

The Architectural and Urban Design MA gives you a deep understanding of the issues involved in contemporary practice. As you evolve your own specialist work, you will discover ways to reimagine and reshape the contemporary urban environment.

Our graduates have gone on to be professional architects, academics and urban designers in the UK, Vietnam, Russia, Palestine, Japan, Taiwan, Kenya, Turkey, Lithuania and other countries. Among our alumni are award-winning architects Wei Jiang and Quang Nguyen, who are based in Shanghai and London respectively.

Visit the Architectural and Urban Design (MA) page on the University of Brighton website for more details!




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