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MSc Global Urban Development and Planning / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Design for Healthy Places

Unit code PLAN60111
Credit rating 150
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Planning and Environmental Management
Available as a free choice unit? No


Where people live influences their health and chances of leading prosperous lives. Today, human health has been identified as an important issue in cities worldwide. Rapid growth of cities has increased health risks in various ways. The natural and built environment, besides socio-demographic and socio-economic attributes, all contribute to rising death rates from chronic disease, (e.g., stroke, heart disease, cancer, respiratory illness and injuries) in global North and global South. Based on WHO (2019), about 36 million deaths per year (63% of global mortality), is due to chronic diseases and a large proportion of these deaths are attributable to risks related to the urban environment. However, there are ways to tackle the health challenges in cities and to create healthy places for living. 


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

The course unit will utilise a variety of pedagogical approaches including:
Providing information and materials on the coarse unit BlackBoard page;
Regular tutorial teaching;
Mid-semester surgery and answering student’s questions;
A mid-semester assignment and providing constructive feedback on it;
Inviting guest lecturers from other (e.g., public health, epidemiology, etc.) disciplines or practitioners with information on creating healthy places and emphasising on applying multidisciplinary approach and cross-sector collaborations for improving health in cities (it is subject to availability of guest lecturers and practitioners);
Workshop(s) to practice relevant techniques (e.g., observation and participatory methods, presentation techniques);
Applying relevant techniques in actual urban environment (e.g., observation technique and participatory methods – such as interview, questionnaires, participatory mapping - with people to understand their perceptions of urban environment and health/healthy behaviour). Students will be highly recommended to do these activities in groups;
Providing a platform for discussions and asking questions on the coarse unit BlackBoard page;
End semester surgery and answering questions;
End semester assignment providing (written) constructive feedback on it.

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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