Kashfa Surme

Urban Design – MA

Kashfa knew she wanted to create smart cities and spaces for people all over the world to live in and enjoy. BCU’s Urban Design course is helping her build the skills she needs to become a successful urban designer.

"After completing my undergraduate architecture degree at the University of Mumbai in India, I started work as an architect but a study trip I’d taken during my degree held my interest. On the trip, we visited major structures in different Indian cities. I saw how climate and culture play an important role in architecture. It helped to me to expand my knowledge about how different structures had their unique concepts and strategies. The trip made me want to expand my knowledge to solve the demanding problems faced by the architectural industry today.

To pursue this interest, I knew I wanted to study Urban Design. Although architecture gave me the base knowledge to study Urban Design, architecture is about building, whereas Urban Design is the design of towns, cities, spaces and landscape. I knew I wanted to be involved in the process of shaping these spaces in which people live. I want to create spaces that people can enjoy and interact with.

I chose the UK and Birmingham for a number of reasons. The UK has a great education system and high employment rates so I knew it would be a good choice for my Master’s but I wasn’t sure if it would be affordable as an international student. BCU have a scholarship available to international students which meant a reduction in my tuition fees, this was a huge factor in me choosing BCU! I also did lots of research on the BCU website and YouTube to find out more about living in Birmingham. I found that it was affordable compared to cities like London, but also offered lots in terms of student life and ability to travel.

When I first moved to the UK, I experienced homesickness and there were a lot of culture shocks but being in the vibrant, diverse city of Birmingham made this exciting. There is shopping, food, entertainment, and culture that I’ve been able to enjoy during my time here. Being in the second largest city in the UK is so exciting!

The Urban Design course teaches me something new every day. My tutors are always happy to discuss new and innovative ideas. The tutors on the course have a wide range of expertise, meaning we can focus on both UK based guidelines and also techniques used globally. This is really useful to me as once I’ve graduated, I hope to stay in Birmingham and work as an Urban Designer but one day, I’d like to return to India. The course gives me the knowledge to work in both countries.

One of the best things about BCU is that practical learning is given more importance than theoretical learning. My course has modules that encourage us to work with students from different courses and use one another’s expertise to complete a project, just like you would in the workplace. Working with planners, engineers, architects, landscape architects, interior designers and other professionals has given me an insight into working as an urban designer in the real world.

Each week, there is the opportunity for students in the School of Architecture and Design to attend SuperStudio Sessions. During these sessions, speakers and experts from different fields come to campus to teach us something new. So far, I’ve developed lots of digital skills I’ll use in my career, such as photoshop and topographic modelling.

Urban design is not only fun and interesting, but it is also preparing me for my future. The course has inspired me to build a better world, with smarter cities for people to live in.

To me, ‘I am BCU’ means to be able to learn, explore and pioneer in the Urban Design field."