MSc Urban Design and International Planning / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Urban Design Futures Studio

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60972
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? No


This course unit is designed to increase students’ knowledge and skills in understanding physical form in cities across a range of scales.


The course unit aims to:
• Introduce students to key emerging international urban design challenges including climate
change, digital futures, informality, and globalisation
• Develop students understanding of urban design composition and complexity in differing
contextual scenarios.
• Develop students understanding of the role, and limitations, of urban design in tackling
political, economic, environmental, and physical issues in cities
• Allow students to explore, evaluate, and compare international best practice design
• To ensure students understand how more focused and tactical urban design approaches can
potentially impact future challenges in place
• Develop students understanding of the urban design process in practice – in particular
developing design options and proposals, and design delivery
• Develop further students design, graphic, visual presentation, and group-working skills


The course unit will have the following content:
• Introduction to basic urban design concept, optioneering, and technical proposal process
• Identifying and unpacking a series of emerging and future urban design challenges – including
climate change; informality; digital futures, and globalisation
• Introducing and exploring the composition and complexity of urban design in different
international settings and contexts
• Exploring and comparatively evaluating international best practices on these design futures
• Identifying tactical urban design approaches related to emerging challenges for long-term
change in cities
• A series of practical worked examples on urban design responding to future challenges in the
city – as well as identifying limitations of physical interventions
• A series of crits – to provide formative feedback on students design work
• Peer-review
• Studio workshops and technical support sessions
• Presenting design process and proposals

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

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

• Demonstrate an understanding of the applied urban design process
• Employ knowledge and understanding of how to integrate best practice design lessons in
unique physical contexts
• Demonstrate an understanding of the physical composition, and complexity, of urban design
proposals through the delivery of an urban design project


Intellectual skills

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

• To integrate and apply urban design theory and international best practice in providing
feasible and effective design interventions related to specific emerging and future design
• To be able to successfully develop urban design options and proposals in differing contextual
• To develop and demonstrate professional level design presentation and visualisation skills.


Practical skills

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

• Utilise advanced design software skills and presentation techniques
• Ability to critique design and self-evaluate design options and proposals related to specific
design challenges.
• To articulate and justify design choices, and narrative, both visually and orally.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

• Use of Adobe creative suite; AutoCAD; Sketch-up; urban sketching; and physical modelling to
present and test ideas and concepts.
• Ability to work both as part of a group and independently to deliver a design project.
• Presentational skills, both visual and oral.


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 40%

Feedback methods

Formative and summative feedback will be provided throughout the course.

Recommended reading

• Black, P. & Sonbli, T. (2019) The Urban Design Process, Lund Humphries, London
• Carmona M & Tiesdell S Urban Design Reader 771.4 C374
• Cho, I. M., Heng, C. K., Trivic, Z. (2016) Re-Framing Urban Space. Routledge, Oxon
• Kostof S, The City Shaped and The City Assembled 711.4/K240
• Larice, M. and Macdondald, E. (2013). The Urban Design Reader. Routledge, London
• Lydon, M. & Garcia, A. (2015) Tactaical Urbanism. Island Press, Washington
• Moor M & Rowland J Urban Design Futures 711.4/M442

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Supervised time in studio/wksp 36
Independent study hours
Independent study 114

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Philip Black Unit coordinator

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