a series of black and white photography shots of students in a number of areas


Urban Design

Please note that new student recruitment to this course has been suspended for the September 2019 intake. Applications for 2020 should be made from October 2019. If you would like information about our alternative course, please visit the MSc Urban Planning course page.

About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Architecture and the Built Environment
One year
Programme leader:
Mike Devereux and

David Littlefield

Key fact:
If you have a first degree in the arts, design, humanities or social sciences, this master's course will help you take that interest into professionally applicable practice.

Page last updated 29 April 2019


This master's degree teaches you to explore the nature of places their design, interpretation and stewardship. We are interested in hearing from applicants from a wide variety of disciplines (including, but not restricted to, design) who wish to develop design responses to urban places, both exterior and interior.

These responses (both visual and written) can be expressed according to your background and interests. As you develop an Urban Design proposal you might, for example, produce an exhibition, a film or a website. The course will help you develop the skills and a portfolio of work that reflect your career ambitions.

Why study our course?

MA Urban Design has been developed with professional practices to guide graduates into careers that involve understanding and responding creatively to places.

Working with academics, you will develop a wide range of skills and techniques to investigate 'real world' urban sites, across a range of scales. Embedded within the context of design and urbanism, you are encouraged to develop your own responses and Urban Design language. Professional networking and developing confidence in communicating creative thinking are embedded into the course.

Real world experience

You will visit professional practices as part of the degree and work on 'real world' briefs to produce an interview-ready portfolio of work. All this is closely guided by experienced academics, visiting speakers and backed-up by regular study visits.

Where it can take you

This course is designed to hone your undergraduate degree into a deep and meaningful expertise that is attractive to professional practice. Through this course you will pursue your interests in urbanism and place, which could develop or enhance careers in Urban Design and planning as well as architecture, interiors, regeneration, writing, curation and art practice.



The full master's course comprises 180 credits divided into three 60 credit stages: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, and Masters. The PG Cert is awarded upon the successful completion of the modules: "The City: Scale and Media"; and "Praxis". The PG Dip is awarded upon the successful completion of these two modules plus "Design Studio". The MA is awarded upon the successful completion of all four modules.

The course is made up of four modules:

  • The City: Scale and Media - investigates the ways in which we understand places, often ones we have never visited, from sources such as literature, art, film and data.
  • Praxis - explores methods and techniques of designing, managing, interpreting and curating places through visits to a diverse range of organisations/custodians such as design practices, cultural institutions, heritage sites, landowners and property developers.
  • Design Studio - asks you to produce a designed response to a given urban site, working in a tutored studio environment.
  • Dissertation - is the opportunity for you to undertake a piece of academic research that explores a chosen place-related topic in detail. There might be the chance to work closely with place-related organisations to develop the theme for study and to carry out the research.  

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

You will learn through working closely with expert staff, visiting professionals and fellow students. Alongside working in our well-equipped studios, you will study modules that are based around formal lectures, seminars, workshops and demonstrations.

This course includes a major design proposal for an urban intervention, accompanied by a piece of critical writing in an area of specific interest to you.

This course is designed to suit those from a wide range of undergraduate degrees. The common interest in developing a deep understanding of 'place' is what brings our students together. We strongly believe that the perception of place and our responses to it are better informed by collaboration and joint learning amongst  like-minded staff and students.

See our glossary of teaching and learning terms.


You will be assessed through a combination of techniques including individual and group design proposals, presentations, a logbook and written outputs including a dissertation.

Urban Design outputs maybe varied and can range from a spatial proposal to an installation, or interactive digital resources. The exact nature of the output is discussed with tutors so it integrates with your undergraduate degree and preference for communicating your ideas.

See our full glossary of assessment terms.



You will go on approximately six study visits, so you can apply new learning by analysing a wide range of places and agencies.

Study visits will include a city authorities, private consultancies, heritage sites, retail centres and design practices - and will involve a mix of exterior and interior places. We also arrange a residential field trip, where you can apply greater depth to your analysis. Visits can be in the UK and abroad.

As well as assessing these visits and places in your logbook, you will share thinking, findings and experiences through presentations and design responses.

Study facilities

You will apply new concepts and create outputs in our modern, well-equipped facilities and award-winning design studios.

Access industry-leading resources for computing, photography, CAD and printing. Develop ideas, models and presentation techniques in state-of-the-art workshops with experienced technicians on hand to help.

Learn and develop your presentation skills in modern lecture rooms with sophisticated software facilities. Research and study using our well-equipped library and wide range of digital resources.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.


Careers / Further study

This course has been developed with professional practices to guide graduates into careers that involve understanding and responding creatively to places. You will pursue your interests in place, which will develop, or enhance, careers in Urban Design, planning and architecture, and related practices.

Other areas in which you might wish to work after studying this degree include regeneration, interior design, curation, journalism and art. Professional networking and developing confidence in communicating creative thinking are embedded into the course.

This may be your first opportunity to formally study urbanism and the nature of place. You may want to go on to write about place or create design-based outputs related to it. Irrespective of your first degree, this course will deepen and enhance careers in Urban Design, and enrich the understanding of those whose careers inform or are informed by the nature of place.



Full time course

FeesAmount (£)
Home/EU-Full Time-Award Fee7500
Home/EU-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)625
International-Full Time-Award Fee13000
International-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1083
Offshore-Full Time-Award Fee13000
Offshore-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit) 1083

Supplementary fee information

See our funding pages for more information.


Entry requirements

We normally require an honours degree of 2.2 or above. We can consider applicants who do not meet the normal entry requirement, but who have relevant professional experience or qualifications, which should be described in detail in your application.

All applicants must demonstrate in their personal statement an aptitude and/or potential for design and visual communication. You may also be required to attend an interview and/or provide additional material to demonstrate your potential as a designer.

By 'design' we mean the ability to develop a brief by experimenting with ideas, reworking them following tuition and producing a considered, thoughtful proposition that is creatively expressed visually and orally which may include an element of supporting written work.

How to apply

Read more about postgraduate applications

For further information

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