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Urban Design and Planning MA


Both design and public policy

This course focuses on urban design as part of town planning, giving you the opportunity to develop your understanding of urban design and development issues through working at different scales of the city and engaging with theoretical debates.

‘Planning’ is both a design and public policy profession. It deals with design as a professional and a democratic practice, showing how professional knowledge and deep engagement with communities are both essential if places are to achieve lasting functionality and liveability.

Why Urban Design and Planning at LSBU?

Our academic staff have expertise in a range of planning related fields and are all research active with a strong track record in national and international research networks, projects and publications.
The course includes a field trip to a European country at no additional charge to you.
The course is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
Guest speakers from the built environment profession provide valuable input through lectures, tutorials and project visits.
We are the second oldest planning school in the UK, providing accredited planning education for over 50 years.
Live project working integrates projects and site visits with theoretical debates, inspiring you to think about the characteristics of good places and equipping you to make a critical contribution to shaping those places.


Key course information - ordered by mode
Mode Duration Start date Location
1 year
Start Date
Southwark Campus
2 years
Start Date
Southwark Campus


The course is offered on a full-time and part-time basis. Full-time students will complete the course in 12 months; part-time students will complete the course in 24 months. The programme is based on 2 semesters and you will study from September to June.

  • Planning, Politics and Theory
    This module provides a critical understanding of theories and ideas that have been used to justify spatial planning practice historically and in the current era. The political nature of spatial planning is a key focus. The aim of this module is to provide students with a critical understanding and knowledge of the history of spatial planning and the theoretical and philosophical ideas that have been, and continue to be used, to inform practice and interventions into the built and social environment. The module also discusses the ethics of spatial planning practice.
  • The Making of Place 
    Place making is central to successful spatial planning and this module introduces students to principles and processes for creating high quality and inclusive places. Planners must be able to visualise possible futures for sites in such a way that is positive and imaginative and can guide and stimulate the ideas of others who might implement them. The module focuses on an area of London that has undergone radical change and is the subject of complex and intense pressures for development. Students will be asked to analyse the area and then to prepare, visualise and justify their ideas for its future.  
  • Design and Property Development
    This module explores the role of ‘good design’ within the property development process. In so doing, it looks at the different design aspects and dimensions entailed throughout the development process, from inception of a scheme to its disposal. Accordingly, issues from the definition of property boundaries, to design particularities of different use categories and their impact on valuation, to long term management issues, will be considered in the module. Case study visits are also included as part of the learning experience.
  • Sustainable Places
    This module examines sustainability issues and challenges and the initiatives and responses from spatial planning and related agencies, institutions and organisations in the context of a European field study visit. It aims to provide students with a detailed knowledge and understanding of the different forces at work within a region or city context.  It will develop the students’ understanding of sustainability issues and the impact of climate change; recognise the processes of change and identify issues and mechanisms that allow an area to develop to fulfil its potential as well as respond to environmental and related challenges.
  • Urban Design: from Theory to Practice
    The fields of urban design, planning and development have substantial associated literatures. This module reviews theories and approaches to urban design and explores and tests them against real projects and places in use. Students will be introduced to the complexity of theoretical ideas underpinning past and current practice and will be encouraged to critically evaluate key concepts and methods of leading urban design thinkers. They will discuss key themes in small-group seminar settings and this will provide them with an opportunity to critically reflect ideas and approaches and to explore interlinks between the fields.
  • Urban Design Project
    This project based module provides students with the opportunity to extend and develop their urban design skills in a practical context in relation to the planning and development process and the urban context for design.  It also reviews theories and approaches to urban design and explores and tests them against real places.  It develops approaches from earlier parts of the students’ course and leads to design proposals which are expected to be of a professional standard. This is supported by the teaching of relevant computer-aided design skills.
  • Dissertation or Major Project
    The dissertation module is an opportunity to carry out a significant piece of independent research. Students are expected to demonstrate their independence as a scholar and should aim to make a contribution to the scholarly debates surrounding their chosen topic. Each student will submit a single piece of work of 12,000 words or equivalent where design projects are included. A dissertation is a chance for a student to carve out their identity as a scholar and/or a practitioner in that it is an opportunity to produce a sustained and personal project of their own design.


This course will provide you with specialist expertise in urban design, allowing you to study this discipline within the broader framework of town planning and property development. This will allow you to develop a broad range of skills which will be attractive for urban design, planning and property development employers; architectural practices dealing with master planning, government organisations, local authorities and research institutions are other possible employers.

Employability Service

We are University of the Year for Graduate Employment for the second year in a row - The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, 2019.

At LSBU, we want to set you up for a successful career. During your studies – and for two years after you graduate – you’ll have access to our Employability Service, which includes:

  • An online board where you can see a wide range of placements: part-time, full-time or voluntary. You can also drop in to see our Job Shop advisers, who are always available to help you take the next step in your search.
  • Our Careers Gym offering group workshops on CVs, interview techniques and finding work experience, as well as regular presentations from employers across a range of sectors.

Our Student Enterprise team can also help you start your own business and develop valuable entrepreneurial skills.



Neil Adams

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Course Director - BA Urban & Environmental Planning

Neil has extensive experience in international research and consultancy, focusing on European spatial planning and rural and regional development, with a particular focus on Central and Eastern Europe.

Dr Sophie Elsmore

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Lecturer in Housing and Human Geography; Course Director: MA Housing and Society

Sophie is a Lecturer in Housing and Human Geography. Her research interests include: planning and the built environment, urban governance, legal geographies, and housing and property development.

Dr Bob Jarvis

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Hourly Paid Lecturer - Urban Design

Dr Jarvis is a town planner with an extensive experience in urban design teaching and research; he also has a postgraduate degree in Creative Writing and practical experience of contemporary dance.

Dr Sam Johnson-Schlee

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Lecturer in Human Geography

Sam Johnson-Schlee is a lecturer in human geography in the School of Law and Social Sciences.

Dr Kevin Milburn

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Senior Lecturer in Human Geography; Postgraduate Research Lead, School of Law and Social Sciences

Dr Kevin Milburn is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography. He specialises in Cultural Geography and teaches on the Tourism and Hospitality, Events and Entertainment, and Human Geography BA (Hons) programmes.

Dr Antonia Noussia

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Associate Professor; Course Director, MA Urban Design Planning

Combining her training in architecture, conservation and cultural geography, Antonia adopts an inter-disciplinary approach to understanding the spatial expression of cultures on the landscape - primarily the interaction of heritage, tourism and migration. She teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, including PhD supervision.  Her main areas of teaching are destination planning and management, tourism development in less developed countries, urban design, and planning practice.

Dr Philip Pinch

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Associate Professor: Human Geography

Phil is an Associate Professor in Human Geography within the Division of Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies. His research interests include moto-mobilities, the politics of sustainable design, and European spatial planning.

Dr Duncan Tyler

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies
Job title: Head of the Division of Urban Environment and Leisure Studies

Duncan teaches research methods, tourism enterprise, destination management, city marketing and tourism policy. In addition to being Head of Division, Duncan is responsible for promoting research, external liaison and collaborations, is Vice Chair of the Association for Tourism in Higher Education and adviser to two awarding bodies.


Teaching and learning

The teaching team has a track records of academic research, professional practice and consultancy, and have strong links to public, private and voluntary sector employers. Practitioners as guest speakers provide valuable input through lectures, tutorials and project visits.

In-class lectures will cover key topic areas.  Guest speakers from public, private sector and third sector organisations, as well as academia, will bring specialisms and real world contextualisation. Interactive seminars and small group discussions will complement the lectures and encourage the active participation of students throughout the academic year, developing critical reading and discussion, peer learning, the sharing of knowledge and support amongst the diverse student body.  An important teaching and learning method will be studio-based work, where students present and discuss their projects – based on real areas - individually or in groups.

Field work and other forms of experiential learning play an essential role in fostering a deeper understanding of spaces and places and help putting into context what is learned in class and from the student own reading and research.  Central to the teaching and learning strategy of the course, these include local site visits across London (to project areas and other relevant places) and a residential field trip in Europe with no extra cost to the students.

There are no examinations. The student learning experience is built upon the integration of formative and summative forms of assessment and feedback. Formative assessment is delivered through informal assessment of work but also through project ‘crits’ (where work in progress is formally presented and reviewed with tutors, external guests and other students), peer feedback and comments on in-class exercises and debates. A variety of summative assessments is used to assess knowledge and understanding, including design projects, professional style reports, oral presentations, a design diary, an essay and an exam, balancing individual and group work.

All students have a named personal tutor who will stay with them for the duration of their degree. The Division also has an employability coordinator.

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to have a minimum of a lower second (2:2) Bachelor’s Degree, or equivalent, in an appropriate subject area, such as built environment subjects and social science subjects.

Applicants with a non-cognate degree and several years’ relevant work experience may be offered a place, if they can demonstrate a suitable level of specialist subject knowledge.

International students additionally require an English Language qualification, with an IELTS score of 6.5, or equivalent.

How to apply

International students

International (non Home/EU) applicants should follow our international how to apply guide.

Instructions for Home/EU applicants
Mode Duration Start date Application code Application method
1 year
Start date
Application code
Application method
2 years
Start date
Application code
Application method

Postgraduate students and research students should apply through our dedicated application system. Full details of how to do this are supplied on our How to apply section for postgraduate students and our How to apply section for research students.

See our admissions policy (PDF File 298 KB) and complaints policy (PDF File 127 KB).


Students should apply for accommodation at London South Bank University (LSBU) as soon as possible, once we have made an offer of a place on one of our academic courses. Read more about applying for accommodation at LSBU.


It's a good idea to think about how you'll pay university tuition and maintenance costs while you're still applying for a place to study. Remember – you don't need to wait for a confirmed place on a course to start applying for student finance. Read how to pay your fees as a postgraduate student.

Postgraduate Application Service

Book a session with one of our specialist Postgraduate Advisors. Over a one on one Advice Session they'll advise you on postgraduate degrees at LSBU that match your interests and experience. Book an Advice Session.

Fees and funding

Fees are shown for new entrants to courses, for each individual year of a course, together with the total fee for all the years of a course. Continuing LSBU students should refer to the Finance section of our student portal, MyLSBU. Queries regarding fees should be directed to the Fees and Bursaries Team on: +44 (0)20 7815 6181.

The fee shown is for entry 2019/20.
UK/EU fee: £7875International fee: £13780
AOS/LSBU code: 5030Session code: 1FS00
The fee shown is for entry 2019/20.
UK/EU fee: £3500International fee: £6124.44
AOS/LSBU code: 5031Session code: 1PS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £7875
International £13780

For more information, including how and when to pay, see our fees and funding section for postgraduate students.

See our Tuition Fees Regulations (PDF File 149 KB) and Refund Policy (PDF File 102 KB).

Possible fee changes

The University reserves the right to increase its fees in line with changes to legislation, regulation and any government guidance or decisions.

The fees for international students are reviewed annually and the University reserves the right to increase the tuition fees in line with the RPIX measure of inflation up to 4 per cent.

Postgraduate loan (PGL) for Masters study

If you are starting a Masters course, studying either full- or part-time, you may be entitled to apply for a postgraduate study loan. Find out more at our postgraduate fees and funding section.


We offer several types of fee reduction through our scholarships and bursaries. Find the full list and other useful information on funding your studies on the scholarships and fee discounts page.

Fee status

Please check your fee status and whether you are considered a Home, EU or International student for fee-paying purposes and for our regulatory returns, by reading the UKCISA regulations.


Select a story and read about practical project work, students' placement experiences, research projects, alumni career achievements and what it’s really like to study here from the student perspective.

Prepare to start

We help our students prepare for university even before the semester starts. To find out when you should apply for your LSBU accommodation or student finance read the How to apply tab for this course.

Welcome Week

Before you start your course we’ll send you information on what you’ll need to do before you arrive and during your first few days on campus. You can read about the process on our Welcome Week pages.

Before you start

The best preparation for the MA Urban Design and Planning is to explore and observe the urban environment around you! Travel and interact with different kind of spaces; observe how space is used. Go to museums to find inspiration: the National Gallery, the Tate Modern... they are all free!

You can also do some background reading; as an introduction we suggest:

  • Carmona, M., Tiesdell, S., Heat, T. and Oc, T.(2010) Public Spaces - Urban Places, 2nd Edition, Architectural Press, Oxford
  • Cullingworth, B., Nadine, V., Hart, T., Davoudi, S., Pendlebury, J., Vigar, G., Webb, D. and Townshend, T. (2015) Town and Country Planning in the UK, Routledge, London
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Contact information

Course Enquiries - UK

Tel: 0800 923 8888

Get in touch

Course Enquiries - EU/International

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7815 6189

Get in touch
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