MSc Urban Design and International Planning / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Design Dissertation [UDIP]

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60660
Credit rating 60
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Planning and Environmental Management
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit will have the following content:

  • Introduction to the applied urban design dissertation approach
  • Introduction to design by enquiry approach and other related urban design methodologies
  • How to develop a design dissertation proposal
  • The urban design dissertation structure – Introduction / analysis / design / evaluate
  • Secondary research – literature review / policy / best practice case studies / development / statistics
  • Primary research – urban design analysis techniques and approaches / contextual appraisals / opportunities and constraints qualitative and quantitative methods (including consultation and engagement).
  • The design strategic framework and principles – It development, role, and application.
  • Concepts / options / testing design (including design by enquiry)
  • Detailing the design proposal
  • Evaluating the scheme
  • Presenting the design project
  • Crits and peer-review.
  •  Supervisory and technical support sessions.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
MSc Urban Design and International Planning Dissertation PLAN60560 Co-Requisite Compulsory


 The course unit aims to:

  • Provide students with an opportunity to plan, manage and conduct a programme of research on a urban design applied project;
  • Further students’ knowledge of a relevant body of literature, and to develop powers of critical reasoning
  • Allow students to explore and evaluate international best practice urban design
  • Develop fully students’ knowledge of, and competence in, an appropriate range of design research methods, including the development of a study proposal, an appreciation of urban design led methodologies and analytical techniques, development of clear design principles and objectives, the undertaking of a specific design project, the synthesis and evaluation of the design process, and a clear statement of conclusions.
  • Develop student understanding and skills in design by enquiry process and delivery of final design proposal
  • Develop students’ design, graphic, visual presentation and bibliographic skills; and
  • Develop students’ experience of developing and managing a specific programme of work through to final submission.

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit will utilise a variety of pedagogical approaches including:

  • Regular studio workshops
  • Studio crits (with formative feedback)
  • Peer-led design review
  • The online urban design toolkit
  • Regular tutorial teaching
  • Technical applied design skills workshops
  • Oral presentations
  • Design surgeries

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and Understanding:

  • Demonstrate an understand the applied urban design process
  • Employ knowledge and understanding of how to integrate academic research into an applied design process
  • Consider multiple strategic scenarios and design options through a design by enquiry research approach
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of large scale urban project delivery and feasibility

Intellectual skills

 Intellectual Skills:

  • To integrate and apply urban design theory, best practice, and primary analysis in a real-world design-led scenario.
  • To apply the urban design process from appraisal to delivery.
  • To be able to successfully evaluate design options against strategic frameworks and wider consultation for contextually responsive design solutions
  • To develop and demonstrate professional level design presentation and visualisation skills.

Practical skills

 Practical Skills:

  • Develop a design project from early analysis to completion and post-occupancy evaluation.
  • Utilise advanced design software skills and presentation techniques
  • Employ design by enquiry approaches to design project development
  • Ability to critique design and self-evaluate design concepts and proposals.
  • To articulate and justify design choices both visually and orally.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 Transferable Skills and Personal Qualities:

  • Use of Adobe creative suite; AutoCAD; Sketch-up; urban sketching; and physical modelling to present and test ideas and concepts.
  • Ability to independently deliver a comprehensive urban design project to a deadline
  • Presentational skills, both visual and oral.
  •  Progress to employment, developing the knowledge and skills required for a professional planning/urban design career

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 90%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

Written report (Aims & Objectives/Method and Structure/Literature/Policy) - 3000 words and Urban Design Project Delivery (A1 boards plus 3D physical model 1:1000) - Max 8 x A1 boards [90%]

Oral design defence of final project - 20 minutes [10%]

Feedback methods

Written feedback on the dissertation will be provided on publication of final degree results

Recommended reading

 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 – also available online

Kostof S, The City Shaped and The City Assembled 711.4/K240

Larice, M. and Macdondald, E. (2013). The Urban Design Reader. Routledge, London

Moor M & Rowland J Urban Design Futures 711.4/M442

Urban Design Group, Graphics for Urban Design 711.4/M446

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 15
Project supervision 32
Supervised time in studio/wksp 40
Tutorials 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 510

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Philip Black Unit coordinator

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