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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.

Our unique approach: Create great places anywhere in the world

This course enables students from planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and other backgrounds to engage with the practice of urban design as a means of addressing the future. A practice that brings together the form production processes of place as well as the socio-economic drivers that shape the urban realm. 

This design methodology linking theory, practice and the urban experience is applied to worldwide locations facing contemporary global issues. 

Why choose this course?

The course brings together theory and design practice to develop urban design skills which are applicable to a spectrum of locations and the issues they face in creating liveable places for tomorrow. 

  • The method you learn is comprehensive and robust allowing graduates to become part of the global dialogue on the future of cities and employable in a wide range of professions.
  • Design: Strong urban form production methodology applicable to a range of settlement scales, cultures, typologies and projects from master-planning of design frameworks, codes, design and access statements, down to the scale of plot-based design, public realm experience and improvements and through the delivery of vitality via events and pop-up urbanism.
  • Theory: Engages with contemporary and future urban issues – intensification and population growth, climate change, cultural context of design, biodiversity and landscape urbanism, affordable housing, urban public realm in the digital age.
  • Practice: Work with professional practitioners, international student cohort, and research tutors in design studios which mirrors future professional workplaces.
  • Research: Innovative, relevant and current research topics developed independently by students.
  • Career options: Opens up opportunities in a range of fields related to the growth and liveability of cities; acquire an enhanced ability to research, design and evaluate places and proposals; graduate with either a Certificate, Diploma or MA in UD with the essential knowledge, skills, techniques and methods to create great places anywhere in the world. 

Teaching and learning

The MA in UD includes a variety of activities that enable us to deliver theoretical and practice-based content to develop your knowledge and skills for engaging in dialogues of urban futures for a range of professional practices including architecture and planning.

  • Peer-learning is encouraged through group work and the critical assessment of individual projects
  • Studio set-up and design based learning which engages a mixed group of students from different backgrounds, cultures and professional affiliations mirrors real environment in practice
  • Theory and Practice modules are merged and applied in the Design studio projects
  • Problem based learning allow an in depth understanding of urban issues and proposed solutions
  • International projects as well as the diverse international student cohort provides exposure to a range of different cultures and urban phenomena
  • Independent research to develop critical thinking and creative approach to problem solving; focus on specific area of research interest
  • Use of multi-media for developing skills for communicating and work on strengths of individuals
  • Field trips and site visits provides a live-in experience and sense of scale for spatial forms

For full time students, all teaching is delivered in two days which allows the rest of the week for independent studio project development. Part time attendance is one day per week.

Approach to assessment

Assessment combines group work and individual projects with a range of mediums to include reports, design posters, videos, oral and visual presentations. Studio tutors and professional practitioners engage with the students in the process of delivering assessed work. This process allows for professional quality output.

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 becoming teaching references for the design process as well as a means for testing urban theories.

International field trip – organised yearly to expose students to specific urban qualities such as housing and social equity, regeneration, creative cities and economic rise, participation and planning. Cities visited have included Amsterdam, Lisbon, Rotterdam.


Visit the MA/PGDip/PGCert Urban Design page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!

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