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Course content

Why this course?

Recent data and predictions on the forthcoming rate of urbanisation make cities the most common living environment now and in the future. What kind of life will it be for the seven billion people who will live in existing or developing cities? Cities hold tremendous potential, but at the same time are sources of stress, inequalities and pollution.

In 2015, the United Nations recognised this through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which included 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Goal 11 is dedicated to urban settlements, with the aim to 'Make Cities Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable'.

This means that getting the design of cities right has never been so important. The questions are: what kind of design should we adopt, and who should be in charge? Our course explicitly addresses these questions, and teaches how to design responsive, resilient, sustainable cities for all their inhabitants, thus preparing socially responsible urban design professionals of the future.

Designed for both students and practitioners, the course treats the city as a complex, dynamic system.

The course is closely linked to the Urban Design Studies Unit research agenda. Everything taught in classes and the studio is based on our excellent research record and helps advance it.

You’ll study

Your course is delivered through studio work, lectures, seminars and a research project.

Studio

The major topic of studio is the design of the resilient city. We will address this at all scales, from the metropolitan to the neighbourhood with all its special places. We normally work on a authentic client commission, therefore the work is real; you will work against deadlines, and in multidisciplinary teams, employing professional methods. Your designs will be based on UDSU’s approach to city design called ‘Masterplanning for Change’.

Taught classes

Taught classes give you the theoretical grounding for everything you do in studio and inform the next phase of research. They take you through the history and theory of ideas that shaped cities up to the present day. They illustrate the current challenges faced by cities, with all the approaches available to tackle them This culminates with the very unique principles behind our Masterplanning for Change approach to the design of the city. These classes also aim to provide you with the basic skills to develop and express urban design ideas at best. Finally, they provide you with an understanding of the political, economic and practical realms of urban design.

Research

The Masters thesis is a substantial piece of student-led work on a topic of particular personal interest, or suggested by staff to advance the Urban Design Studies Unit agenda. It is the completion of this piece that grants students the RTPI accreditation.

Facilities

Studios

There are two fully-networked design studios; one dedicated to student self-study, the other to interactive design teaching.

Library

In addition to the main University library, we have our own, on-site, reference library. Our collection is developed in direct response to the teaching delivered in the department.

Workshop

A full range of hand and portable power tools are available (complete with instruction).

We offer plotter printing, scanning and laser cutting services.

Find out more about the full range of facilities we have on offer.

Accreditation

The course receives Specialist Accreditation from the Royal Town Planning Institute, an important professional recognition from one of the largest planning bodies in the World.

Our department works in a joint Partnership Board with Glasgow University’s Department of Urban Studies, a world-class department whose renowned teachers and researchers contribute real estate and policy and practice teaching to our course.

Classes

Taught classes take place over Semesters 1 and 2, and include compulsory and optional choices. Compulsory classes will teach you the basic principles of what makes a sustainable and resilient city. Urban Design History and Urban Theory provide a historic overview of all major changes in the form of cities, with a focus on their social, political and economic contexts. The principles and theories of Sustainability are explored as well as the role of Development Processes and the practice and policy of Urban Design (theory) on the shape and density of cities

Optional classes offer you the chance to specialise in an area of interest. These include Urban Landscape Design, Urban Design Representation and other classes which you might find useful from the wider Faculty of Engineering offering.

The course director helps each student build up their curriculum on the basis of their background and interests.

Learning & teaching

Courses are taught through lectures, seminars and studio work as well as a piece of research (MSc students only).

Lectures and seminars are delivered through a variety of modes including short intensive sessions to allow for flexible booking by CPD and part-time students. There's also occasional site visits. 

The taught element of the course starts from a solid grounding in urban design history and theory. It then concentrates on current urban challenges, from climate change to the pressures for development in both developed and developing countries. It culminates with the research work carried out in the Urban Design Studies Unit and teaches you the unit’s ethos and approach to urbanism. 

Assessment

Assessment criteria are linked to the learning outcomes set for each individual class and these are published in the modules descriptors which are available to students. The criteria is also explained by staff at the start of each class, to make sure that you're comfortable and clear with what is expected of you.

The assessment of studio work is developed collaboratively between staff and students. Learning outcomes are linked to criteria and performances. This increases your sense of ownership of the learning process and is integral to the course.

On successful completion of studio and classes you’ll be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma. If you complete an additional research element you’ll receive an MSc in Urban Design.


Visit the Urban Design MSc/PgDip/PgCert page on the University of Strathclyde website for more details!

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