MSc Urban Design and International Planning / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course description

MSc Urban Design and International Planning provides a specialist understanding of the relationship between urban design and planning by focusing on issues that are of international significance.

It will provide you with the core knowledge and competencies needed to become a chartered planner specialising in urban design and international planning.

It will also provide you with the technical applied skills and knowledge to practice as a professional urban designer across multiple scales and contexts.

The course is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and is an Educational Member of the Urban Design Group as part of the Recognised Practitioner in Urban Design pathway.


  • Allow you to tailor the course to your professional interests by choosing from numerous optional course units.
  • Provide you with the practical skills to deliver comprehensive urban design proposals across multiple scales and within differing international contexts.
  • Explore the relationship between urban design and planning within international settings.
  • Provide you with an international perspective on overseas fieldwork.

Special features

  • Benefit from small-group teaching, close staff-student relationships, and guided one-to-one supervision.
  • Develop practical skills in project studios with drawing facilities, model-making workshops, and specialist design and spatial analysis software.
  • Be an active part of the Manchester Urban Design LAB (MUD-Lab) and benefit from its wide range of resources including bespoke urban design toolkits, tutorials, events, and world-leading research on applied urban design.
  • Receive a year-long licence for Adobe Creative Suite software, including illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign for your personal computer to be able to work effectively on projects at any time.
  • Have the flexibility to mix discipline units or specialise, and choose from a wide range of optional course units.
  • Study in Manchester, a city where planning has been taught for more than 50 years, and urban development and environmental impacts are on your doorstep.
  • A weeklong overseas field visit is a core part of the programme. The course fee covers the cost of this overseas field visit. Recent locations have included Barcelona, Amsterdam, Dublin, Seattle, Toronto, and Vienna.

Teaching and learning

The course is taught through a mix of practical studio-based learning, small group exercises, one-to-one design crits, and more traditional lecture-based environments, with a dedicated design studio for MSc Urban Design and International Planning students to make use of at any time.

We also have a dedicated urban design technical officer who teaches applied technical skills and software across the year to MSc Urban Design and International Planning students.

A number of professional practitioners are engaged in teaching on this course, making for a theoretically informed, practice-orientated approach to teaching and learning.

An overseas field visit is a core part of the course. Recent locations have included Barcelona, Amsterdam, Dublin, Seattle, Toronto, and Vienna.

Fieldwork may be scheduled at any point during the course, and this may include time during University vacations. Successful applicants are expected to be available to attend.

Countries to be visited may change their immigration and visa regulations at short notice. The School of Environment, Education and Development cannot guarantee that where visas are required for the field course, they will be granted but will ensure that, in the unlikely event that a visa is refused, affected students are not academically disadvantaged. 

Part-time students complete the course over 24 months. There are no evening or weekend course units available; you should, therefore, discuss course requirements with the Programme Director and seek approval from your employer. Timetabling information is usually available from late August. You can discuss course unit choices during induction week with the Programme Director.

The School of Environment, Education and Development aim to run advertised fieldwork in the 21/22 Academic Year and we very much hope that students will be able to enjoy the fieldwork experience in the usual way.

The ability of fieldwork to proceed, and whether any changes to proposed fieldwork might be necessary, will remain subject to the current global situation and factors such as the:

  • rules and guidance on travel and activities implemented and published by the UK and overseas governments;
  • outcome of any risk assessments conducted by the University;
  • educational value and student experience of the fieldwork, if significant changes to the proposed fieldwork would be necessary;
  • availability of appropriate insurance cover; and
  • availability of appropriate travel and accommodation and any significant changes to their financial costs.

We will therefore assess on a regular basis the viability of any travel and fieldwork and communicate any decisions to our students at the earliest possible opportunity. Any fieldwork that does go ahead will be subject to a rigorous risk assessment process and the implementation of any protective measures identified by the risk assessment to ensure the health and safety of all of our students and staff. If the fieldwork does not go ahead as planned then the School's focus will be on seeking to offer a suitable alternative and ensure that the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of the programme are met.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment methods are largely individual-based, but may also involve some elements of group work and submission.

You are continually assessed via a range of methods including essays, portfolios, presentations, and topic papers.

All design focused work is presented at A1 and includes crit presentations, peer-review, design defences, and 3D physical model making.

You will be required to submit a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words that can focus on crucial planning debates in an international context, urban design debates, or a combination.

Alternatively, you may choose to complete a design dissertation which includes a 3000-word Technical Report, eight A1 boards showcasing your design and process, a 3D physical model, and oral design defence.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
International Urban Design PLAN60491 15 Mandatory
MSc Urban Design and International Planning Dissertation PLAN60560 60 Mandatory
Urban Design Project PLAN60722 15 Mandatory
International Planning: Systems and Frameworks PLAN60861 15 Mandatory
Urban Design and International Planning Study Tour PLAN60882 15 Mandatory
Urban Design Applied Skills PLAN60950 0 Mandatory
Urban Design Studio PLAN60981 15 Mandatory
Design for Healthy Places PLAN60111 15 Optional
Local Economic Development PLAN60511 15 Optional
MSc Urban Design and International Planning Dissertation PLAN60560 60 Optional
Design Dissertation [UDIP] PLAN60660 60 Optional
Urban and Regional Policy PLAN60712 15 Optional
Planning for Environmental Change PLAN60772 15 Optional
Neighbourhood Planning Project PLAN60812 15 Optional
Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Cities PLAN60852 15 Optional
Infrastructure Planning PLAN60872 15 Optional
Urban Design and International Planning Study Tour PLAN60882 15 Optional
Masterplan Studio PLAN60992 30 Optional
Urban Development Planning in Cities of the South: an international perspective PLAN72061 15 Optional
Best practice case studies in urban development planning in cities in the South PLAN72072 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 20 course units

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a number of postgraduate taught scholarships and merit awards to outstanding applicants and international students.

In addition, the Manchester Alumni Scholarship Scheme offers a £3,000 reduction in tuition fees to University of Manchester alumni who achieved a first-class Bachelors degree within the last three years and are progressing to a postgraduate taught master's course.

For more information, see Fees and funding or search the University's postgraduate funding database .


You can develop your practical skills in our project studio, model-making workshop, and computer suites with specialist design and spatial analysis software.

The Manchester Urban Design LAB incorporates a series of bespoke physical resources for student use.

A dedicated design studio equipped with a range of technologies and resources; a 3D model-making workshop with laser-cutter, 3D printer, spray booth, and a wide range of other tools and materials, and an urban design printing room with A0+ plotter and guillotine.

For more information, see  Facilities

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service.

For more information, email