Urban Design - MA

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry.

This forward thinking, exploratory, design focused MA, is rooted in a deep connection between theory and practice. In completion, you will know how to critique, create and experiment with the design of high quality, trans-disciplinary urban places....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School Birmingham School of Architecture and Design
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

This course is:

Open to International Students

Overview

This forward thinking, exploratory, design focused MA, is rooted in a deep connection between theory and practice. In completion, you will know how to critique, create and experiment with the design of high quality, trans-disciplinary urban places.

As ‘an umbrella’ field of study and profession, Urban Design lies at the critical junction of an ever-increasing urban population that continues to add pressure to global systems, with effects that connect through scale, from political strategies right down to an individual's every-day personal experience. Now is the time we must be innovative and joined-up in our thinking. Whether you have a background in architecture, Landscape Architecture, Planning, or other fields; Urban Design is an acknowledgement that we need to work together to face the current global challenges and develop integrated responses that open new opportunities for all of us.

Images left to right - pieces created by Charlie Lovelock Edwards, Shiyun Huang and Ciancimino Giuseppe

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

Urban design lies at the critical junction of an ever-increasing urban population that continues to add pressure to global systems from political strategies to personal experience. Now is the time we must be innovative and joined-up in our thinking, to work together whatever the background, be it originally in architecture and design, planning, or other fields, which relates to global challenges and opportunities.

This design-focused Masters programme is rooted in a deep connection between the latest theories and practices. We blur and move beyond the traditional discipline boundaries of architecture, landscape architecture and planning, social and economic studies, responding to contemporary contexts and continuously striving to incorporate new ways of thinking.

You will learn how to critique, create and experiment with high quality, trans-disciplinary design of urban places. Through collaborative creative processes you will be encouraged to appreciate urban design as an umbrella profession and embrace the dynamic diversity of human conditions.

You will explore ways to refine the way we think about, and make, the places that represent and support our lives, looking to innovative strategies that facilitate happier and more sustainable places for both the short- and long-term success of humanity and our fellow species. In these ways, you will form a deeper appreciation of how places need to be successfully made and sustained.

See Course Specification for further breakdown of course themes.

Accredited By

This course is accredited by:

  • Royal Town Planning Institute

Why Choose Us?

  • Design-focus, we connect social and political theories best and exploratory practices, responding to contemporary contexts and to inform creative design decisions
  • Critique, create and experiment in collaborative creative processes, which situate and embrace the dynamic diversity of human conditions
  • Transcend discipline boundaries, blurring the lines between architecture, landscape architecture, planning, social and economic studies
  • Thinking globally and acting locally, to innovative towards joined-up, strategic thinking
  • Refine the way we think about, and make, the places that represent and support our lives, towards happier and more sustainable places for both short- and long-term gain
  • This course is a specialist accredited course by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), as part of the their Planning and Development pathway.

OPEN DAY

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to learn about this course in detail, chat to students and explore our campus.

Next Event: 29 June 2024

Book Now

Entry Requirements

Essential requirements

Essential Requirements
Essential

BA Hons / BSc degree in a related design subject such as Urban Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design for Future Living, with minimum Lower Second-Class (2:2).

Applications can be considered from students with a BA Hons / BSc degree in Geography, Planning, or equivalent economic or social science, will be considered through interview and portfolio.

Applications from students with alternative qualifications and/or substantial work experience will be considered individually on their merits through interview and portfolio.

Non-English speakers should have IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands or its equivalent.

Applicants will also need to submit a good portfolio.

International students must meet all the Border Agency entry criteria for the programme.

International Students

Entry requirements here

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £8,925 in 2024/25
  • Full Time
  • 18 months with Professional Placement
  • £10,685 in 2024/25
  • £992 per 20 credits
  • Year 1 - 80 credits
  • Year 2 - 100 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £17,710 in 2024/25
  • Full Time
  • 18 months with Professional Placement
  • £19,485 in 2024/25

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free Adobe Creative Cloud licence

Students studying on this course can request a free licence to install the entire suite of applications on up to two personal devices.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected but are likely to be in the region of £150 to £200.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities, including safety boots/shoes. You are also expected to have appropriate clothing and footwear for site visits and field trips.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Portfolio guidance

If you receive an offer to study this course, you will be required to submit a portfolio. We ask that this is submitted within four weeks of receiving your offer.

Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips on putting your portfolio together.

Portfolio guidance

If you receive an offer to study this course, you will be required to submit a portfolio. We ask that this is submitted within four weeks of receiving your offer.

Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips on putting your portfolio together.

Personal statement

You’ll need to submit a personal statement as part of your application for this course. This will need to highlight your passion for postgraduate study – and your chosen course – as well as your personal skills and experience, academic success, and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Not sure what to include? We’re here to help – take a look at our top tips for writing personal statements and download our free postgraduate personal statement guide for further advice and examples from real students.

Course in Depth

MA

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:

Download course specification

Download now

We use the following learning environments and methods in mixed ways. Often days will include multiple methods which align to each other to support in the construction of design ideas and outputs.

Modes/Methods:

  • Design Studio – open, surgery style tutorials, unique to design learning, flexible to time requirements.
  • Group Tutorials – allow focused discussions on specific themes or design stages.
  • Individual Tutorials – focus on specifics of individual process.
  • Formal Presentations: interim, summary and formal review, promotes professionalism.
  • Research and Independent Study – required for self-reflection, deep development of individual approaches, supported by other methods.
  • Traditional Lectures: informational presentations, typically on design approaches systems or areas of practice debate, or theoretical questions.
  • Seminars – discussion groups on themes of contemporary debate.
  • Demonstrations/Workshops/CPD – for instruction on specific design software, materials, systems or technologies.
  • Study trips/tours – experiential learning, guided discussion in physical context of example, and/or project sites, both local and with international options.
  • Collaborative and/or Live Projects – provide focus on specific working conditions, especially working with other disciplines, subject networking, considering practice context and considering inclusivity in design processes.
  • ‘Superstudio’ – design studio which runs between courses in the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, with a variety of contemporary modes from technical to discursive that change on a week-by-week basis.

Interactive learning Platforms

  • Moodle Virtual Learning Platform, with illustrated briefs, audio-video links, schedules and core course/module info.
  • Microsoft Teams, supporting conversational communication, day to day tutoring and support.
  • Miro – interactive space for collaborative discussions.
  • Always exploring and eager to discuss emergent ways to work: e.g. currently deeply exploring various ways to work with AR/VR at various stages of the design process.
Royal Town Planning Institute
Royal Town Planning Institute

This course is a specialist Accredited course by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), as part of the their Planning and Development pathway.

Employability

Enhancing your employability skills

You will learn of range of skills, which will be key to enhancing your future employability.

Specifically you will learn to:

  • Reflect and develop your practice in relation to future employment options.
  • Identify the relationship of theory to practice to develop your personal marketing strategy for promotion of you as an individual.
  • Negotiate, plan and present to a professional standard.
  • Work independently and collaboratively.
  • Be a self-motivated, organised, effective learner.

You will also learn skills in a range of practices in relation to individual development, including various types of visual communication for different design project stages, audiences and market sectors.

Professional practice guidance will teach you a range of skills such as portfolio design, persuasive presentation and collaborative working; using exploratory platforms for self-promotion, presenting yourself and your work in professional ways.


Graduate jobs

The opportunities on graduation are very broad across the built-environment, and typically, students will be able to work on multiple roles and jobs types within typical daily practice.

Urban design requires confidence, resourcefulness, flexibility and the ability to respond creatively to opportunities that arise.

Specific areas and themes:

  • Private practice, as an ‘urban designer’ within multidiscipline practices adding urban design input into diverse scale projects
  • Private practice, at a specialist urban design consultancy and/or as an independent (sole-trader): as urban design consultant, collaborating/co-designing on various scale/sector projects
  • Working in local government for towns and cities, as officer (planning dept.) and/or designing, providing design guidance
  • Collaborative coordinator on various projects

Particular work / sectors

  • Civic space and places
  • Planning process, approval
  • Governmental projects, advisory bodies, independent expert
  • Housing sector, residential development
  • Community, participation and inclusivity work

International

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Facilities & Staff

Parkside gallery

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the exceptional quality of our campuses. With an investment of over £400 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

You will be based in our multi-million pound Parkside building – a state of the art facility located within our City Centre Campus. Here you will have full access to our recently upgraded, high spec CAD (Computer-Aided-Design) workstations situated within our dedicated computer labs and open access areas. We also provide access to leading edge digital design software, enabling you to explore technical drawing, graphics, 3D modelling, visualization, animation, computation, simulation, and virtual reality.

The Parkside Building is also home to our digital fabrication labs, where you will be able to explore 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC machining, ceramics, glass and traditional model-making, guided by our team of expert technicians with access to our on-site material store, and professional printing facilities.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • Design studios
  • Physical and digital library
  • Loanable laptops
  • Dedicated social spaces
  • Cafés

Take a look around on our virtual walkthroughs

Photo Gallery

From industry-standard software, to our workshops and studio spaces, everything you need will be at your fingertips from day one. Working with our dedicated teaching teams and expert technicians, you'll be supported from concept through to completion.

Our staff

Lucas Hughes

Course Director for MA Urban Design

Lucas Hughes holds qualifications in landscape architecture and urban design. He has a broad range of interest and experience within several professional sectors linking across the built-environment industry. His core focus is to promote high quality, integrated, design-led processes for the creation of characterful and sensitive built environment...

More about Lucas

Dr. Jieling Xiao

Reader in Architecture and Sensory Environments | Research Degree Coordinator

Jieling teaches Environmental Design across different courses at the Birmingham School of Architecture. Trained as an architect and urban designer, Jieling believes that designers need to consider more than just how the hardware of architecture functions for its users.  Interested in creative spatial practice related to people’s sensory...

More about Jieling

Dr Silvia Gullino

Associate Professor in City Making

Silvia holds a BA and MA in Architecture and an MSc in Environmental Engineering, both from the Politecnico di Torino. She gained her PhD in Spatial Planning at the Politecnico di Milano in 2005 and conducted postdoctoral research as a Senior Fellow in International Urban Studies at the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins...

More about Silvia

Professor Peter Larkham

Professor of Planning

Peter holds BA and PhD degrees in geography from the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham, and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society.  His research focuses on how cities change, in terms of their physical form, design and conservation.  His most recent work is on reconstruction...

More about Peter

Dr Senem Zeybekoglu Sadri

Lecturer in Architecture and Design

Dr. Senem Zeybekoglu Sadri studied architecture at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. She completed her PhD on “Urban Regeneration and the Right to the City” in 2008. Her post-doctoral research at the City College of New York, USA, focused on urban housing organisations and community-based planning and design.

More about Senem

Dr Hocine Bougdah

Director of Technical Studies and Sustainability

Dr Hocine Bougdah is a senior lecturer in sustainability and Technical Studies and the Director for Technical Studies in the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design BoAD). Before joining BoAD in June 2022, he was a senior research and teaching fellow in the school of Architecture and Cities at the University of Westminster, London. His...

More about Hocine