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Course content

Our MA Urban Design programme is jointly delivered by the Welsh School of Architecture and the School of Geography and Planning. The goal of this programme is to enable practitioners and scholars to transform the field of urban design through critical thinking and creative practice.

Urban design is transdisciplinary, straddling professional fields such as architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and public policy, and also disciplines such as politics, economics, sociology and cultural studies. The programme fully embraces this transdisciplinarity through the theory, research training and design teaching it offers.

You will learn from academic staff from both schools who are highly accomplished and locally engaged in Cardiff, nationally in the UK, and internationally across the world. In the context of the design studios, you will also be able to benefit from the input and expertise of leading practitioners. 

Studio teaching focuses on developing critically informed as well as creative and practical proposals for real sites, addressing important contemporary issues of design and urbanism.

Distinctive features

• Learn from academics in two Schools which are ranked among the top 50 in the world.

• The course is taught via lectures, workshops and design studios, by staff drawn from both the architecture and planning schools, who are leading experts in their fields. Design Tutors include leading practitioners who bring their experience of cutting edge practice to the core of design studio work.

• The course is recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute as a 'specialist' masters for those who have completed at least a three-year RTPI recognised undergraduate spatial planning degree, allowing completion of the RTPI's educational requirements for membership. For further details visit the Royal Town Planning Institute website.

• Accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), allowing completion of the educational requirement for RICS membership.

Structure

This is a one-year full-time degree.

The course is structured to provide a set of three lecture-based modules and three studio-based design modules, followed by a dissertation in the form of a research-based design project. The three lecture-based modules run in parallel with studio-based design projects which enable you to continually relate theory and practice.

Your research-based design project represents the culmination of your studies. You will be required to develop proposals relating to a chosen site, demonstrating an understanding of all aspects of urban design drawings and a written, reflective commentary.

You will have between 2-3 days of contact time each week, working between the design studio and your module lectures/seminars.

Core modules:

Urban Design Thinkers
Urban Design Foundation
Research Methods and Techniques
Development Management
Autumn Studio
Spring Studio
Research Based Design Project

Teaching

Teaching takes place in new light-filled studio spaces in the centre of the City. You will also have access to the latest modelling and workshop facilities in the Architecture School.

This MA is taught via lectures, workshops and design studios, by lecturers who are all experts in their fields – in geography, urban planning, urbanism, urban design and architecture. The design tutors also include leading practitioners who bring their experience of cutting-edge practice to the core of design studio work.

Studio teaching focuses on developing critically informed as well as creative and practical proposals for real sites, addressing important contemporary issues of design and urbanism.

Assessment

Non-design modules provide the foundations for developing understandings of urban design. These are assessed through:

• Essays
• Reports
• Presentations

Most of these provide the opportunities for summative assessment. However, tutorials, and a number of essays provide the opportunities for formative assessment.

Summative assessment is conducted at the end of each module. Formative assessment elements include design reviews, usually one or two per design module, and weekly tutorials also provide an opportunity for this.

Other forms of assessment include:

• Drawings
• Sketchbooks
• Viva voce examination of the dissertation
• Reports

Career Prospects

Graduates move onto careers as urban designers, or in urban design related work. Most of these careers are to be found within the wider areas of architecture, urban planning, property or public policy. These may be within the public, private or voluntary sectors. Some of our graduates continue to higher research degrees.

Guidance and mentoring on careers are provided during the year.

Fieldwork

As part of your studies you will take a field study visit within a UK city or a city in mainland Europe, which is fully funded within the advertised fees.

Study visits are an intrinsic part of this programme. Where your experience during the visits inform assessed assignments in required core modules, the visits are compulsory.

These field study visits are compulsory since experiences of urban design ‘in the field’ are required for completing some assignments.
However, modified versions of the field trips may be allowed at the discretion of the Course Director.

The trip will require you to move around the city and make observations and presentations during these journeys. Every effort will be made to accommodate students with disabilities. It is advisable to speak to the Course Director about the possibility of adjustments before enrolling.

Visit the Urban Design MA page on the Cardiff University website for more details!

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