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Urban Planning Design (MA)

Course Description

Government advises that good planning and good design are inseparable; this course focuses on urban design as a part of town planning. Our approach to urban design emphasises the continuing nature of planning responsibilities (as opposed to the contractual nature of most design professions) and focuses on the everyday use of places and spaces.

- Site project work
Initial modules contextualise ideas of urban design and its evolution. The core of the course is project work on sites where there are current urban design issues and we have established links with the planning authority or a client. We have worked on the hinterland of Bankside, Great Yarmouth Sea Front, and Central Hackney.

Field trip

The Field Trip module (a compulsory part of the MA and PgDip) prepares you for work in unfamiliar places. Field trips offer our students a unique learning experience. We think of the trips as visits to living laboratories where you'll learn through active, hands-on experience. Beyond your studies, you'll also have the opportunity to develop and enhance their self-confidence and leadership skills. Recent field trips have involved postgraduate planning students visiting Barcelona, Spain; Ruhr Valley, Germany; and Venice, Italy. For all new entrants the field study visit fees are included in the tuition fees.


The dissertation is a research-based urban design project which engages with critical thinking, such as Chris Jones' concept of urban design as 'bringing about change in a man-made world'.

See the website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/courses/course-finder/urban-planning-design-ma


Year 1:
- Planning history and theory
This module examines the history of planning and the evolution of the theories and ideas that have underpinned the various attempts to intervene in the natural and built environment through the institution of state-led planning systems. It stresses the concept of theory as understanding, the interlinked nature of history and theory and the importance for the development of planning practice.

- Urban design- the heart of planning
The module will focus on the future of an area of London that has undergone radical change in recent years and is the subject of complex and intense pressures for development. The area will have a number of constraints such as being in a Conservation Area and including listed buildings and part of the work will be to assess the balance to be struck between the parts that are of historic value, the parts that are to change and the form of new development, in an area that is complex culturally, socially and economically. The underlying theme to the module is the belief that planners must be able to visualise possible futures for sites in such a way that is positive.

- Urban design project
This project based module provides you with the opportunity to extend and develop your urban design skills in a practical context in relation to the planning process and the urban context for design. You'll also review theories and approaches to urban design in the context of real projects and places in use as well as your own work. Whenever possible the module will be linked to 'live' projects and areas and cases of current interest.

- Sustainable places (with EU field study visit)
This module examines sustainability issues and challenges and the initiatives and responses from spatial planning and related agencies, institutions and organisations in the context of a European field study visit. The module will provide you with a detailed knowledge and understanding of the different forces at work within a region or city context. You'll develop your understanding of sustainability issues and the impact of climate change; recognise the processes of change and identify issues and mechanisms that allow an area to develop to fulfil its potential as well as respond to environmental and related challenges.

- Everyday life: place and performance
On this module you'll focus on the importance of 'the user' and the part spatial planning and urban design play in shaping the settings for the events of everyday life. You'll be introduced to theoretical standpoints from literature, history and other precedents for this approach and will have the opportunity to apply and develop practice in a way that is both innovative and practical, focussed on 'planning' but also multidisciplinary. Each year the module will have a different location and focus to gradually build up a range of materials for research and documentation.

- Planning in London
You'll examine the planning context of London as a World City, as a centre for financial industries and as a home to millions of people. You'll find it particularly useful as an introduction to town planning in the UK and for understanding how a major city functions.

- Dissertation
On this module you'll engage with a substantial piece of research and writing which is self-initiated and supported by a specified academic supervisor. This is a double-weighted module that runs over two semesters and is an intensive piece of student-devised learning which normally includes empirical research. You'll choose your own research topic, which must be in the field of your chosen specialism. You can expect this to be a most rewarding experience and the academic high-point of your degree.

Part-time mode taught one day per week, with one or two modules being taught in each semester plus the dissertation being completed by the end of January in the third year.


Modules are assessed by a range of coursework, design and practice-based projects, presentations and a dissertation. There are no exams on this programme


There is a national shortage of qualified town and environmental planners in the UK so the demand for our postgraduate courses is particularly high.

Qualifications in the planning and housing sectors can lead to a wide range of careers. Many of our past and current students hold key positions in their organisations and professional bodies, often as senior managers and business owners.

Graduates have used urban design on the planning courses at LSBU to focus on the relationship between planning and design and several now hold key posts in urban design in private consultancy or public authorities.

LSBU Employability Services

LSBU is committed to supporting you develop your employability and succeed in getting a job after you have graduated. Your qualification will certainly help, but in a competitive market you also need to work on your employability, and on your career search. Our Employability Service will support you in developing your skills, finding a job, interview techniques, work experience or an internship, and will help you assess what you need to do to get the job you want at the end of your course. LSBU offers a comprehensive Employability Service, with a range of initiatives to complement your studies, including:

- direct engagement from employers who come in to interview and talk to students
- Job Shop and on-campus recruitment agencies to help your job search
- mentoring and work shadowing schemes. The project work for the course is closely integrated with current issues and problems and each year a new site is chosen and new contacts made, visits undertaken and visiting speakers address the students.

Visit the Urban Planning Design (MA) page on the London South Bank University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

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