MSc Global Urban Development and Planning

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Design for Healthy Places

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60111
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit focuses on the health implication of the urban environment. It aims to make students aware of health challenges in cities and to show them a pathway to tackle these challenges. It outlines concepts of health and its complex relations with urban environment. It covers a range of natural environment attributes (such as green infrastructure and air quality), built environment attributes (such as road traffic, land use, and safe spaces for physical activity), socio-demographic and socio-economic issues (such as inequality and inclusive design), and provides international examples related to health and city in global North and global South. It also makes students familiar with policies related to creating healthy places and introduces collaboration between different sectors. The course unit provides a platform for students to think critically about the influence of urban developments on people’s health. For this purpose, it provides students with relevant techniques (e.g., social research methods, such as observation, participatory methods, etc.) and enables them to evaluate the impacts of urban design/planning projects or proposals on people’s health


The unit aims to:

Develop critical awareness of health–related challenges in cities and their complex relations with urban environment;
Build understanding of a range of social, economic, and environmental issues, as well as relevant policies, that need to be considered in designing places for improving people’s health;
Develop students’ abilities to assess the impacts of urban design/planning projects on people’s health.


The course will have the following content:
        Health and city: history, problems, approach and objectives;
       Mental health in city;
       Healthy behaviour in city;
       Green infrastructure and biodiversity;
       Climate change and urban heat;
       Housing and health;
       Health inequalities: age-friendly city, child-friendly city, disadvantaged people;
        Urban health policies and collaboration of different sectors;
       Health impact assessment (process and methods).

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, workshop/seminar, surgery/tutorials


Knowledge and understanding

Students should be able: 

To explain health problems in cities and the necessity of solving these problems;
To argue the links between natural, built, and socio-economic environments and people’s health;
To explicate key concepts and approaches, and policies underpinning design for improving people’s physical and mental health;
To evaluate impacts of urban design/planning projects on people’s health.

Intellectual skills

Students should be able:

To appreciate cross-sectors (e.g., planning, environmental sectors, and public health) joint working and to draw relevant information from other disciplines (e.g., public  health) and to apply this in process of designing places, in order to improve people’s quality of life;

To demonstrate process of assessing impacts of urban design / planning projects on human health.


Practical skills

Students should be able

To apply knowledge on key concepts and approaches related to design for heathy places and to use relevant techniques (e.g., observation, participatory methods, etc.) for assessing impacts of urban design / planning projects on people’s health.
To professionally present information, extracted from a range of sources, in different ways (e.g., oral, written, and graphical presentation);
To professionally assess impacts of urban design / planning projects and to presents and argue projects’ impacts on people’s health.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

The student should be able:

To manage own work load in a multidisciplinary context;

To effectively work in a group and communicate with team members.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 75%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%

Feedback methods

Written feedback will be provided within15 working days


Recommended reading

Barton, H. (2017) City of Well-being: A Radical Guide to Planning, Routledge: Oxon and New York

Barton, H. (2000) Healthy Urban Planning - A WHO guide to planning for people, Spon Press: London
Dannenberg, A.L., Frumkin, H., Jackson, R.J., (2011) Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health,    Wellbeing and Sustainability, Island Press: NW, Washington, D.C.
Moughtin, C., Kate McMahon, M., Signoretta, P., (2009) Urban Design: Health and the Therapeutic Environment, Architectural Press: Oxford.
The Royal Town Planning Institute, Delivering Healthy Communities: RTPI Good Practice Note 5 (2009), available at

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 43
Independent study hours
Independent study 107

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Razieh Zandieh Unit coordinator

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