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MSc/Dip Urban Design & City Planning

Overview

(to start in September 2014)

Urban design has reclaimed its place as a core focus of planning, real estate and development, and the context in which City Planning is studied has shifted. This is a master programme with unique focus on urban design as a creative planning tool and the interface between urban design and city planning. Students will gain a good understanding of the interface between the two subjects, and as such develop the ability to think in critical, creative and analytical ways across the different scales of the city, from strategic to local, and across urban design, planning, real estate and sustainability arenas. The master course relates closely and builds upon a recognised long-term urban design research specialisation of the Bartlett School of Planning.

The programme integrates the learning areas of 1) City Planning, with focus of spatial planning and strategic plan-making (large-scale masterplanning), 2) Integrative thinking with focus on place-making (neighbourhood scale masterplanning and detail open space design) and Critical Debates in Urban Design offering students a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories associated with urban design, 3) Delivering Quality, integrating the curriculum of urban design and real estate, and also design and sustainability, and finally 4) Planning for Quality, focusing on the understanding and delivery of urban design quality, namely, the understanding of the various types of urban design products and the complexity of their delivery processes, as well as the urban design tools for guidance, incentive and control.

Overall, this is a unique Urban Design programme offering a comprehensive understanding and exposure to both theory and practice within the discipline, as well as the complexity of its interface with the city planning field.

The programme is a full-time one-year course comprising of 180 credits in total. Part-time students can complete the programme within two to five years.  They will be expected to submit their MSc dissertation or major research project in their last year of study, after completing all the taught components of the course.

Programme Objectives

One of the main aims of the programme is to help students develop a capacity to look comprehensively into the theory and practice of the urban design and city planning fields, understand the quality and diversity of design products and plan-making processes and deliver these at a wide range of scales in sustainable and effective manner.

The primary purpose of the programme is to coach students into becoming creative planners, and support those wanting to work into the urban design, planning and development sector both the UK, Europe or Overseas. The programme is designed to cater especially for students with relevant professional qualifications and already some degree of professional experience, and help them to equip themselves for the challenge of regenerating contemporary cities. It is primarily directed at those with an initial training in planning, architecture or other allied disciplines who wish to complete or expand their professional education. Students will specialise into the area of urban design, exploring the purpose and potential of this subject in great depth. It will also be valuable for urban design and or development professionals working from a range of fields: planning, urban regeneration, transport, landscape architecture, architecture, policy-making, etc. Overall, the programme has been devised to provide advanced capacity-building opportunities for those who have worked or currently working in the field of urban design, planning and real estate, and sustainability. Though, it also offers an invaluable grounded qualification for new entrants into the field.

The programme is inter-disciplinary integrating various social science disciplines. It is also international, drawing from comparative studies and experiences in other European countries as well as North America and Asia. It will provide students with insights, knowledge and skills to understand, plan, appraise and deliver future urban design in an integrative way, and overall with the knowledge needed to understand design as a creative, problem-solving process and as a tool for development and planning, and in the process of delivering sustainability for the urban environment. 

Focus

It achieves this by concentrating on the following: 

  • The mechanisms governing the built environment, and how these shape the design and development of cities
  • Understanding and evaluation of design quality in the urban environment
  • Urban design principles, both qualities and aspects of development form, key in the delivery process of quality environments
  • Frameworks for urban design guidance, incentive and control
  • Plan-making projects: masterplanning at both strategic and local scales
  • Key theoretical debates and methodological approaches in the fields of Urban design and City planning
  • Theories and techniques in real estate development, and their implications for Urban Design; the understanding of the value created and distributed through interventions in the built environment and the valuation and appraisal mechanisms to measure it
  • An appreciation of land, property and the urban environment as financial assets and the implications for the development sector
  • Sustainability in urban design: ‘smart’ processes of delivery and the influence of resource-reducing technologies in urban strategies.

Major Research Project or Dissertation

A unique feature of this programme is that student are able to choose to develop a major research project, in alternative to the traditional dissertation, as their final research work; this component is geared towards the application of knowledge by design.

Read more about the Major Research Project in Planning module.

Accreditation

The MSc in Urban Design and City Planning is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and also fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The Diploma in Urban Design and City Planning is also accredited by RTPI but only as part of the 3+1 specialist route, that is, you will need to have completed an RTPI accredited BSc programme in Planning in the UK.

Contact details

Programme Director and Admission Tutor: Dr Filipa Wunderlich

Admission Tutor: Lucy Montague

Programme Administrator: Anthony Grout

For administrative inquiries about your application (procedures, progress etc.) please contact the Graduate Faculty Office: Ian Lewis, at the Graduate Faculty Office, UCL Central House, by email or telephone +44(0)2031089018.

For substantive inquiries please contact Anthony Grout by email or telephone +44(0)20 7679 4797.

Structure

This new MSc programme draws upon the relationship between Urban Design, in particular ‘urban place-making by design’, and aspects of governance, real estate and sustainability. It integrates the learning areas of:

  1. City Planning, with focus on spatial planning and strategic plan-making (large-scale masterplanning),
  2. Integrative thinking with focus on place-making (neighbourhood scale masterplanning and open space design) and critical debates, offering students a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories associated with urban design,
  3. Delivering Quality, integrates the curriculums of urban design and real estate, and also urban design and sustainability, and finally,
  4. Planning for Quality, focusing on the understanding of the various types of urban design products and the complexity of their delivery processes, as well as the understanding and delivery of urban design tools for guidance, incentive and control.
MSc UDCP Structure

Content

Core Modules

BENVGPL5 Spatial Planning (15 credits)

The module examines the evolution of the planning system in the UK with particular reference to spatial planning policy and spatial plan development, regulations and procedures governing plan-making processes and development control decisions. It aims to provide students with a thorough analysis of spatial planning and strategy development, including awareness of contemporary changes to planning, regeneration and place-shaping, the onset of spatial planning and its meanings, and its transformation into an enabling and community-supportive activity. It provides a conceptual and practical examination of the evolution of and search for spatial planning as a political exercise, including its origins in the European Community, and its application across and within the UK, within different territories and regions, and its application to local areas and neighbourhoods. The module also gains from the comparison of the UK planning system to other countries planning systems.

BENVGPLD From Strategic Vision to Urban Plan (15 credits)

The module looks to familiarize students with some of the current principles and practices of regional and local planning in the Thames Gateway Area, and demonstrate how these may be presented/translated in spatial terms; at delivering. Students are required to prepare a client-based project in response to a set of planning aims and objectives, and to deliver the wider vision for the region. This vision for the region takes the form of a Strategic Regional Development Plan setting out a strategy, and a conceptual Master Plan for the area.

BENVGPLC Urban Design: Place Making* (15 credits)

The module provides students with an introductory yet comprehensive overview of urban design theory and provides an opportunity to turn urban design theory into practice through the completion of an urban design project The course illustrates the potential of design as a creative problem solving process, a process necessary to deliver the types of public and private investments in the built environment that will continue to return value to their users and investors over the long-term. In achieving this, the course provides a basic grounding for the exploration of urban design issues in greater depth through the Urban Design Specialism (composed by Urban Design: Product, Process and Critique and Urban Design Guidance, Incentive and Control modules below). It also provides a stepping off point for thinking creatively about planning at a larger spatial scale, for more detailed discussions about sustainable urban design and for preparing and implementing regeneration projects.

* The Bartlett’s own students that have completed the BSC Urban Planning, Design and Management will, in alternative, choose another module relevant to the field of Planning, in consultation with the Course Director.

Critical Debates in Urban Design and City Planning (15 credits)

The module will provide students with an opportunity for in-depth reading, reflection and critical discussion around key urban design and spatial planning themes and debates. Students will be able to acquire a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories associated with urban design. An integrated view of urban design and its key areas of knowledge.

Design and Real Estate (15 credits)

The module integrates the curriculum of urban design and real estate. It explores both theories and techniques in real estate development (such as market mechanisms, policy tools, pricing, appraisal, investment and environment certification), and their implications for Urban Design, in particular the masterplanning process. Students are introduced to concepts and principles of real estate development in the context of planning and design based on a real practice based project. As part of this they will develop an outline scheme design, considering its site, planning and real estate context, while also appraising its commercial viability and feasibility, and considering aspects of its implementation, management and finance.

BENVGSU3 Sustainable Urban Design (15 credits)

The module explores the ideas of sustainable urban design through making an urban design proposal. The project work will synthesize the abstract concepts of urban design and sustainability by applying these ideas to a place. The aim is to apply different interpretations of sustainability in urban design and explore how the implementation of these resource reducing technologies can inform urban strategies.

BENVGTC2 Urban Design: Product, Process and Critique (15 credits)

The module focuses on the understanding the key properties of urban design, the complexity of design delivery processes and the understanding the design product and its quality. The focus of the module is overall not on ‘how to design’ but on ‘the experience of design’ and ‘how to understand and evaluate design’. Specifically, and whilst learning from both theory and practice, what are the measures of quality in design, and how to both analyse and deliver informed and constructive criticism to a design proposal. The module is an opportunity to learn about design objectives and terminology, and develop the necessary skills to be able to understand, evaluate and communicate ideas through design.

BENVGTC4 Urban Design: Guidance, Incentive & Control (15 credits)

The module focuses on the relationship between design and indirect public sector processes of influencing design outcomes through guidance, incentive and control. The extent to which design is recognised as a legitimate interest planning has been a matter of great controversy dating back to the evolution of the planning system in Britain. In reality, the majority of decisions planners make will be design related in one form or other - albeit at very different scales of operation - from those dealing with settlement form, to those dealing with land use mix, to those concerned with detailed design and individual site layout. To that extent planning is undoubtedly a design discipline and planners need to be aware of, and concerned with, the design consequences of their decisions on the ground.

Planning has sometimes been seen as a reactive, negative and even reactionary process. An engagement with urban design provides the primary means to turn this around, and to create instead a proactive, positive and even visionary decision-making process. This module explores the processes and tools that will enable planners to once again demonstrate the power of the discipline to change real places for the better.

In addition to the taught modules listed above, all MSc students also register for a 0-credit research techniques module and the dissertation / major research project module worth 60 credits: 

BENVGPL3 Planning Research (0 credits)

The module aims to provide an understanding of the way in which successful research is undertaken. It introduces a range of methods employed in both quantitative and qualitative analysis and assist students in the development of the skills that are required to complete their MSc dissertation/project.

BENVGPL7 Dissertation or Major Research Project in Planning (60 credits)

The main aim of the preparation of a Report is to help students acquire and demonstrate skills of finding out about, understanding and reporting creatively on urban design, planning, real estate and sustainability issues, preferably in a country other than their own. Examples of final works, see below.

Major Research Projects
  • Re-modelling of vehicle and pedestrian's movement in sites of Historic Monuments - based on 'Edge Effect' theory.
  • Revitalizing Old Pune: A core city Strategy: Regeneration and re-configuration with respect to the public realm and transportation
  • Community Cohesion - Lessons from Islamic cities
  • Blurring the edges: integrating resilience into dynamic urban riverfronts in Bristol
  • How can the re-evaluation of vacant space utilising an asset-led approach begin to overcome the barriers to the long-term re-imagining & regeneration of Britain’s town centres?  An Organic, Asset-Led Approach to Social, Cultural and Economic Development in Croydon Metropolitan Centre

Read more about the Major Research Project.

Dissertations
  • Natural disasters as cultural catalysts for city branding and tourism development: based on the case study of Tangshan.
  • A study of academic perceptions of private management in public-private space: How have the Private Management methods of BIDs in Central London affected their public usage?"
  • Privately owned, publically accessible space: Is there a best practice model?

Staff

Programme Director:

Dr Filipa Wunderlich
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Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Dr Sonia Arbaci
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Elena Besussi (Teaching Fellow)
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Duncan Bowie (Visiting lecturer)

Professor Matthew Carmona
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Dr Ben Clifford
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Professor Nick Gallent
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Professor Patrick McAllister
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Dr Tse-Hui Teh
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Dr Filipa Wunderlich
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Applying

Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships

For information, please see the faculty admissions information here.

Opportunities

Graduate students from the Bartlett School of Planning have been very successful in gaining subsequent employment. There is growing demand for our Masters' graduates from a wide range of both public and private employers.

Destination statistics for 2011 showed that 94% of those graduating from the School that year were in employment or further study within six months of leaving us.

The MSC Urban design and City Planning is an opportunity for students seeking to further their professional careers, to specialise in urban design, and within that broad arena, to engage deeply with the both theoretical debates and practice methodologies, as much as, with particular research agendas of direct relevance to the future of their professional practice.

Relationship to the Urban Design and Planning practice industry

The MSc Urban Design and City Planning course benefits from a close relationship to urban design and planning practice industry. It draws from established links with planning and urban design practices. Practitioners are invited each year to lecture, and deliver seminars and workshops for the students, and supervise project work, as part of several core modules and the final major research project component. The programme frequently uses the input of organisations such as Urban Initiatives Studio, Terry Farrell, MacCreanor & Lavington Architects, Croydon and Camden Council, Great London Authority (GLA) – Design for London, Urban Movement, East Landscape Architects, Colin Buchanan, Urban Design Skills, Just Space Network, and others.

Employment

Several programme students are employed in urban design, planning or in planning-related jobs, their employers ranging from private consultancies to local authorities. An increasing proportion (over a third) of graduates enters consultancy work, whilst others go onto work on the development and transport sectors, the public sector or non-profit organisations. A smaller group continues higher degree studies and PhD research.

And, the programme also strives to maintain a good connection with graduates which are in practice in public and private offices in the UK and abroad in urban design and planning. Among the employers of our Bartlett graduates are: ARUP, Populous, Croydon Council, WYG Planning & Environment, Gallions Housing association, Bioregional, Foster and Partners, Urban Initiatives and Movement, etc.

Alumni

UCL boasts a very dynamic alumni network of more than 150,000 members. In addition to the UCL network, once you graduate from the MSc programme you will have the opportunity to join the Bartlett School and Bartlett Planning alumni networks on LinkedIn and Facebook. These platforms allow previous students to stay in touch, exchange information, network and attend events specially organised by these groups.