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.
Ranked 1st for student satisfaction amongst London Modern competitors for Town & Country Planning and Landscape Design (Complete University Guide 2021).
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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.
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 Enrolment 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
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.
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.
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.
We have been running post graduate planning courses for successfully for over 50 years, the second oldest planning school to be doing so in the UK.
The MA is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute. This means that after graduation you can become a licentiate member of the RTPI. With two years relevant work experience (in some cases one year), you can apply to take the RTPI Assessment of Professional Competence exam and become a full member of the RTPI.
Our planning school works closely with the RTPI Partnership Board, the body that oversees the professional currency and relevance of the teaching and learning programme.
A variety of taught modules include classroom sessions led by expert practitioners, sometimes our alumni. Students are encouraged to engage with real planning issues and organisation for the empirical research for their dissertation. Our one day and week-long residential study visits include presentations with practitioners in London, the UK and beyond. Our planning academics often hold posts within the RTPI and work on various developmental projects. We are often the first port of call when employers are looking to recruit planning post graduate.
With 23,000 members the Royal Town Planning Institute is the largest planning institute for spatial, sustainable and inclusive planning in Europe. 2014 marks its centenary.
Teaching and Assessment
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.