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MRes Inter-disciplinary Urban Design


The Bartlett offers a number of programmes that from different perspectives focus either centrally or partially on the study of urban design (see Bartlett Urban Design).

Each programme is distinctive, reflecting the particular professional / academic traditions within which it is situated.
The MRes Inter-disciplinary Urban Design (IdUD) cuts across these, allowing students to construct their study in a cross-disciplinary manner and in doing so to explore urban design as a critical arena for advanced research and practice. The aims of the programme are:

  1. To provide an Inter-disciplinary space in which students can examine the challenges of urban design from comparative disciplinary perspectives.
  2. To expose students to the diversity of urban design teaching and the latest cutting edge research from across The Bartlett and beyond.
  3. To provide the opportunity for students to conduct a substantial piece of individual urban design research that draws on diverse Inter-disciplinary knowledge.
  4. To train students in the use of research methodologies appropriate to the conduct of urban scale research and critically informed urban design practice.

The course operates both as a stand alone high level masters, or as a staging post for those seeking to do further research at PhD level. It is extremely flexible, allowing students to shape their own study agendas whilst also offering the support of one to one tuition from an identified supervisor. The programme is globally unique.

Contact details

Programme Director: Professor Matthew Carmona

Programme Admission Tutor: Juliana Martins

Programme Administrator: Vicki Howard


The MRes Inter-disciplinary Urban Design (IdUD) is a Faculty-wide programme drawing its staff, supervisors and content from all parts of The Bartlett and beyond, including from The Bartlett Schools of Architecture, Planning, and Graduate Studies, the Development Planning Unit, from the Department of Geography and from the UCL Transport Studies Centre.

Through the MRes IdUD, students will be able to tap into perhaps the largest global concentration of urban design related researchers and professional expertise found anywhere in the world.

The programme has a simple and highly flexible structure, designed to allow students to tailor their learning in order to reflect both their own background, and how they wish to specialise in the future.

The MRes IdUD consists of three modules amounting to 180 credits.


Whilst the MRes IdUD offers huge flexibility and choice (see Content), the final choice of feeder modules into the first Inter-disciplinary Urban Design module may be restricted by the UCL timetable, which is not fixed until the summer preceding entry.  In addition, some modules have specified prerequisites and others are not available every year. 

The Programme Director can advise participants on their choice of feeder modules and the timetable for these can be viewed through the UCL Common Timetable by searching for modules under their ‘home’ degree programmes.


BENVGID1: Inter-disciplinary urban design

This module draws from a range of named feeder modules from across The Bartlett and UCL, each of which explores the broad territory of urban design from a different perspective.

This ‘black box’ of elements is given shape by students themselves who select components:

i) according to their own academic backgrounds and professional experiences so as to further develop their knowledge, skills and aptitudes – in-depth

ii) in order to understand the academic / disciplinary lens through which the material of the module is taught as a means to develop a cross-disciplinary perspective on the study of urban design

iii) as a means to gain in-depth understanding of methods and approaches to the study of urban design that will be relevant / appropriate to their own individual research projects.

75 credits of modules should normally be chosen, ideally from at least three different parts of The Bartlett and UCL. Feeder courses into the module include, although are not limited to:

BENVUD1 History and Theory of Urban Design

BENVUD2 Strategic Urban Design

BENVUD3 Detailed Urban Design

BENVGBU1 Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development

BENVGBU2 Participatory Process: Building for Development

BENVGBU8 Critical Urbanism Studio I

BENVGBU9 Critical Urbanism Studio II

BENVGAAD Design as a Knowledge-Based Process

BENVGAAF Principles of Analytical Design

BENVGAAG Spatial Cultures

BENVGAAH Spatial Justice

BENVGAAI Architectural Phenomena

BENVGAAJ Adaptable Cities

BENVGAAM ‘Space syntax’ methodology and analytical design (15-credit version of BENVGAAF, term 1 only)

BENVGAAP E-merging Design Research

BENVGPD1 Design and Real Estate

BENVGPD2 Critical Debates in Urban Design & City Planning

BENVGPLC Urban Design – Place-Making

BENVGTC2 Urban Design: Urban Design: Layout, Density & Typology

BENVGTC4 Urban Design: Guidance, Incentive and Control

BENVGSU3 Sustainable Urban Design

T26: Urban Street Planning & Design

BENVGEE9 Social dimensions of sustainability

BENVGEEC: Environmental Masterplanning

BENVGEEH Sustainable Housing Design

BENGAH2: The Representation of Cities

BENGAH4: Theorising Practices: Architecture, Art & Urbanism

URBANG001 Cities, Space & Power

URBNG003: Creative Cities

URBNG005: Public Space & the City

URBNGO07: Community Participation in City Strategies

URBNGO09: London, Aspects of Change

BENVGPD1 Design and Real Estate

BENVGPD2 Critical Debates in Urban Design and City Planning

BENVGPLD: From Strategic Vision to Urban Plan

BENVGACK: Embodied and Embedded Technologies, Cities as Interface

BENVGSA3 Geographic Information Systems and Science

BENVGSA4 Spatial Modelling and Simulation

BENVGTP1: Transport Planning and the City

BENVGES4: Urban Agriculture

BENVGPLJ - Communities and Planning: Concepts and Frameworks

Because the combination of feeder courses will vary from student to student, so will the methods of delivery. However, a typical student might encounter studio teaching, formal lectures, analytical modelling, small group tutorials and discussion, formal presentations, site visits, and a wide range of other diverse teaching techniques.

Assessment of the module will constitute the combined final assessment from each feeder course, weighted by credit allowance.

Learning outcomes

  1. The development of in-depth knowledge and skills in urban design and the development of aptitudes to urban design as an Inter-disciplinary research arena
  2. An understanding of the academic / disciplinary lenses through which the component parts of the module are taught as a means to develop a cross-disciplinary perspective on the study and practice of urban design
  3. An in-depth understanding of methods and approaches that will be relevant / appropriate to the understanding of complex urban problems.

Note: The final module selection will need to be approved by the Programme Director, including any modules from outside of this list. Final combinations will also be subject to timetable constraints which vary from year to year.

BENVGID2: Urban Investigations

This module does two things. First, it provides students on the MRes a weekly opportunity to get together, and through exposure to the series of urban scale research projects being conducted at UCL (and elsewhere) discuss and experiment with the latest urban research methodologies. Because projects will vary from year to year, no fixed formal syllabus is set, although discussions will range across:

  • Philosophical explorations – using theory and critique to understand urban design processes and outcomes and the rationale, purpose and nature of urban design
  • Process investigations – focusing on the normative and ‘potential’ systems, tools, procedures and networks that shape the outcomes of urban design
  • Physical modelling – through a range of scientific studies in which the form and configuration of space is examined as the physical ‘product’ of urban design and the container for use and flows of resource
  • Propositional experiments – studio-based research and pedagogical investigation using design process and creative speculations to reveal responses to defined urban problems and problematics
  • Performance enquiries – through direct and indirect anthropological investigation and stakeholder discourse, examining the nature of space-in-use

Second, the module will provide a showcase of UCL’s engagement with urban design and urban scale research offering students the opportunity to interact with the full range of UCL’s urban design active / interested staff. In doing so it will expose students to the full range of transferable skills expected of MRes students.

Teaching will largely be conducted as a weekly lecture followed by a small group seminar.  Examination will be through completion of a 4,000 word research proposal and a series of quick-fire methodological exercises.

Learning outcomes

  1. An in-depth understanding of methods and approaches to the study of urban design and allied research areas that will be relevant / appropriate to the understanding of complex urban problems.
  2. Training in methodologies appropriate to the conduct of urban design and urban scaled research.
  3. Appreciation of the full range of transferable research skills appropriate to urban scale research.

BENVGID3: Urban Design Research Project

A final module feeds from the first and second and provides students with the opportunity to conduct a major individual research project that explores the nature of urban design as an Inter-disciplinary research subject, and as a key dimension of understanding and unlocking complex urban problems. The module provides students with the opportunity to conduct a major individual research project of at least 15,000 words or 10,000 words and a major research-based design proposal.

This work should normally develop out of the research proposal prepared at the conclusion of Module 1: Inter-disciplinary Urban Design, and, whilst a student-driven exercise, will be closely supervised by an allocated supervisor.

The module will commence with a weekend retreat away from UCL, providing participants with an opportunity to present, discuss and refine their research proposals. It will culminate in a viva oral examination attended by both supervisors and forming part of the formal examination process.

Learning outcomes

  1. The preparation and execution of a complex research-based urban project with a focus on one or more urban problems requiring a Inter-disciplinary urban design perspective.
  2. The application of appropriate design and/or research-based methodologies to the resolution of a complex urban problem.
  3. The understanding and engagement with relevant theories and professional and research methods to frame, analyse and address the identified urban design research project.


Beyond the faculty, each academic section of The Bartlett is active in the urban design field with a wide range of PhD researchers, funded research projects, relevant masters level programmes, active relevant seminar programmes and social networks.

This means there are almost 50 members of staff, across The Bartlett who are either engaged directly in urban design teaching and research, or for whom the concerns of urban design form a critical dimension of the area within which they work.

Depending on their selection of feeder courses in Module 1, students will be exposed to different academic and research staff, although at some point in their studies they should be exposed to most urban design and staff working in the field of urban design from across The Bartlett.

Whilst students will feel a strong engagement and identification with the MRes IdUD specifically, they will also have access to the much larger set of resources and activities represented by the faculty at large and its individual academic centres.

Students will have particularly close contact with the Programme Director and their allocated supervisor; the latter drawn from The Bartlett academic staff.

The Programme Director is responsible for the day to day running of the programme, for its academic direction and for the academic progression and welfare of its students. Their supervisor will work with students on the preparation of their research proposal (during module 1), and eventually on their Urban Design Research Project (module 2).

In addition, PhD students studying urban design within the faculty act as mentors for new MRes students, helping them to progress and assisting in their full engagement with the programme, School, Faculty and College.


Applicants to the programme will be expected to have a good 2.1 undergraduate degree (or its international equivalent), in a cognate discipline or a relevant masters degree.

The minimum English language requirement for this programme is an overall IELTS grade of 6.5, with a minimum of 6 in each section.

The deadline for all applications is 31 July 2015. 

We regret that we are not able to consider any applications received after this deadline.


The MRes Inter-disciplinary Urban Design (IdUD) is a globally unique high level masters degree. With its emphasis on the power of urban design, its belief in inter-disciplinarity, and its use of questioning research methodologies, the programme opens up a range of future opportunities for participants along two primary paths:

  • First, it provides an opportunity for students seeking to further their professional careers, to specialise in urban design, and, even within that broad arena, to engage deeply within a particular research agenda of direct relevance to their future professional practice. In this regard,the programme emphasises and imparts an analytical and questioning approach to the professional discipline and to its urban problems that will allow participants to become more incisive and penetrating in their own professional work.
  • Second, for students seeking a research or academic career, the MRes provides the ideal training for a PhD and eventually for a move to an academic or other research position. Therefore, the MRes can help to both define an appropriate study at PhD level, whilst also steam-lining the conduct of a PhD itself, through imparting advanced research methods training and, through the preparation of the Urban Design Research Project (module 2), providing a direct feed into a future PhD.

The programme is founded on the belief that in urban design a research perspective provides a critical dimension of advanced professional practice, whilst better practice is the worthy ultimate goal of good urban research.

Urban Design Research Projects

The posters below provide examples of the Urban Design Research Projects that MRes IdUD students complete.  Topics are very broad and methods inter-disciplinary as they reflect, first, the diverse perspectives on urban design represented across UCL, and second, the interests and experiences that students themselves bring to their study.

Please select the links to access pdf files containing detailed descriptions of the individual projects.

Samar Al-Zwaylif

Dubai: Behind the Scenes - A study of hidden everyday spaces in Dubai (pdf)

Athina Vlachou

Gerani, Athens: Space and Patterns of Immigrant Segregation (pdf)

Yicong Yang

Design with Informality: a study of spatial informality in Wuhan (pdf)

Ioanna Kolovou

Exploring the Spatiality of Localities: the case of Central Athens (pdf)