MSc Urban Design and International Planning / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
International Urban Design

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60491
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Planning and Environmental Management
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit aims to introduce students to how cities have developed and evolved on the global stage, providing a critical analysis of the key urban design theories that underpin the discipline and how they influence practice. The course will get students to think critically about the current and emerging challenges that face urban design both locally and internationally in different urban environments, introducing best practice examples from across the world. 



This course aims to:
• Develop an understanding of the historic and contemporary origins of a range of urban design concepts at the city level
• Consider the wider global and local challenges which urban design theory and practice must respond to, exploring real world international examples
• Understand the importance of local context within urban design practice and how that influences the translation of global urban design knowledge in a city
• Strategically think about emerging international urban design issues and the future role of the city


Teaching and learning methods

1. Lectures: Lectures will tackle 4 main themes a) Understanding the City- introducing the role of the global city and how urban form has developed over time; b) Towards an Urban Design Agenda- discussing the birth of the urban design discipline and the key theories/theorists influencing our understanding of cities; c) Key Issues in Urban Design- discussing challenges facing cities and urban design practice both locally and globally; d) Urban Design Futures – a critical reflection on the emerging issues in urban design and how cities might be improved through successful design interventions.

2. Seminars: The seminars are designed to engage students with, and explore, key issues/ideas related to international urban design case studies. Students will be exposed to a range of urban design concepts stemming from different built environments around the world and will develop knowledge of international best practice, gaining an appreciation of the benefits and problems of global urban design homogenisation practices.

3. 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.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand historical precedence in the design of cities, differentiating between different urban patterns and recognising key periods a city’s development.
  • Critically evaluate the ways in which urban design concepts are developed, adopted, and translated internationally
  • Be familiar with the challenges facing urban design and how global cities have addressed these and their own unique circumstances through urban design practices;
  • Develop comparative evaluation, discussion, writing, critical thinking, and design skills through seminars, essays, design critique, crits, and graphical analysis/representation

Intellectual skills

  • To apply urban design theory in real world examples
  • To understand principles of city analysis
  • To be competent in urban design presentation techniques

Practical skills

  • Design skills and drawing; city analysis techniques
  • Use of IT software to present in a professional manner
  • Competency and confidence in presenting ideas and concepts verbally

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Use of Adobe Creative Suite and other software to present ideas and concepts
  • Ability to contribute to group discussions

Assessment methods

City Report Structure/Outline (Week 8)  - 2 page - 15%

Urban Design (Visual) City Report  (Week 12) - 2500 words - 85%

Feedback methods

Students will select the city that forms basis of Assignment report in Week 3 and receive immediate feedback with opportunity o book one on one session with Academic to assist in selection and rationale.

Week 9 allows for Report structure/outline feedback through TurnItIn with written feedback provided

Final assignment will have written feedback presented via TurnItIn

Recommended reading

  • Urban Design Group, Graphics for Urban Design 711.4/M446
  • English Partnerships Urban Design Compendium 729/E3 – also available online
  • Carmona, M. (2010). Public places-urban spaces. Routledge, London.
  • Carmona M & Tiesdell S Urban Design Reader 771.4 C374
  • Cuthbert, A. R. (2003). Designing cities: critical readings in urban design. Blackwell Pub.
  • Kostof S, The City Shaped and The City Assembled 711.4/K240
  • Le Gates, R. and Stout, F. (1996) ‘The City Reader’ 711.4/L443
  • Loew, S. (2012). Urban design practice: An international review. Newcastle-uponTyne: RIBA Publishing.
  • Lynch, K. (1960). The image of the city. the MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Moor M & Rowland J Urban Design Futures 711.4/M442

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 5
Independent study hours
Independent study 123

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Philip Black Unit coordinator

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