MSc Planning

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Urban Design Project

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60722
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
Offered by Planning and Environmental Management
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Reinforcing through applied practice of the main urban design principles; skills of architectural observation and description; techniques for notation and analysis of urban space; green-space and circulation; built form and urban space; city image; conservation and the historic environment; design policy and guidance; design and access statements, urban design and climate change mitigation/ adaptation. Course includes studio exercises and culminates in the preparation of a design proposal for a corner site.


1. to develop a project-oriented approach to urban design
2. to apply site analysis techniques to support urban design proposals
3. to explore the main urban design principles and their relationship with practice
4. to design and communicate an urban design scaled intervention
5. to develop skills of design, presentation and 3D physical modelling

Teaching and learning methods

1. Lectures: Lectures will be shorter overviews of analytical and design techniques and process, introducing students to key themes, approaches, terminology, and practice.
2. Studio: Students will work collaboratively with staff and peers to develop individual projects in-class through applied learning. This will take the form of one-on-one times, group working, and engaging with current design soft wares
3. Seminars: Seminars allow students to receive valuable and regular feedback on their individual projects and seek peer guidance and support with particular shared issues or aspects of the design/analysis

E-Learning: Blackboard will be used to engage students outside of the lecture hall with e-lectures and case study materials linking to best practice urban design examples and current global urban developments of interest. The online urban design toolkit also acts as a valuable technical resource for out of class learning and enabling students to continue work on individual design projects during non-contact hours.

Knowledge and understanding

• To be able to conduct in-depth site and character analysis
• Understand the principal categories of urban design interventions
• develop understanding of the key urban design principles and the design process

Intellectual skills

• to robustly test urban design scheme options
• have the ability to effectively engage with and learn from constructive critique

Practical skills

• Develop 3D physical model making capabilities
• Be able to deliver a comprehsive urban design proposal

Transferable skills and personal qualities

• Develop presentational and graphics technics
• Develop skills in key design software including Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Sketch-up, and CAD
• To be able to work within a busy design studio environment

Assessment methods

Urban Design Project – for a designated corner site between 1-3 hectares;

2x A1 Pages (80%),  3D physical model (20%)

Feedback methods

Crits provided in weeks 3, 8 and 12 – crits offer students opportunity to present work to staff member and receive immediate oral feedback.

Studio and seminar sessions designed to provide students with weekly feedback and critique on their design project

Final submission results in official written feedback on both A1 pages and 3D physical model

Recommended reading

Barnett J Introduction to Urban Design 711.4/B450
Barton H et al Shaping Neighbourhoods 711.001/B154
Carmona M & Tiesdell S Urban Design Reader  771.4 C374
English Partnerships Urban Design Compendium 729/E3
Haas T New Urbanism and Beyond 711.4 H307
Hartwell C Manchester 720.942721/H2
Larice M & McDonald E The Urban Design Reader 711.4/L471
Moor M & Rowland J Urban Design Futures 711.4/M442
Urban Design (quarterly journal of the Urban Design Group)

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