MA in Urban Design CLT Exhibition

MA in Urban Design

Start date September
Duration 1 year full-time / 2 years part-time

Course overview

The MA in Urban Design is a studio-based design programme with a strong emphasis on community participation. The aim is to address the challenges of uneven urban development, both locally and internationally.

The programme builds on the our ethos around the relationship between architecture and society. As such, the MA in Urban Design is grounded in an integrated approach that links spatial design and urban processes as a means to understand the spatial morphology of contemporary urbanisation, and the social forces underpinning urban form. Our interest lies in the processes of uneven urban development and in the many agents and actors who, in their capacity of engaged citizens, are transforming the meaning and forms of the places they inhabit. With this in mind, the course seeks to establish innovative modes of practice involving agency and community participation, and to investigate which approaches and methodologies might allow for rethinking the role of both designers and citizens in the processes of city-making.

The overall approach of the programme is underpinned by a desire to critically examine the key urban development challenges that cities are facing today. Who is addressing them? In which ways? To whose inclusion, and exclusion? Local urban areas in Sheffield are taken as a reference for comparison with other UK and international contexts in Europe as well as in Asia, Africa, and Latina America. The main core of the programme consists of a design studio, supported by core modules exploring urban design theory, participatory methodologies, and reflections on urban design practice. These are complemented by a range of optional modules, study-trips, thematic workshops, and lecture series.

The MA in Urban Design seeks built environment practitioners who are interested in the investigation of tools for integrated spatial and social change.


Entry requirements

Course outcomes

The course was a refreshing insight into how architecture and urban design can generate positive results in our budding environment and society.

Nandini Subramanian, MA in Urban Design

A culture of civic engagement and collaborative and participatory research within the studio encourages the development of site-specific approaches to broader urban questions.

The focus is on research-led design methods, with the aim of preparing participants for cross-disciplinary work in design offices as well as local authorities and non-governmental organisations working towards socially responsive urban development.



The MA in Urban Design programme is structured in a total of 180 credits over two semesters including the summer months.

The programme offers a variety of different teaching modes including studio-based design work with individual and group tutorials, block seminars and workshops, and lecture modules.

The studio and thesis modules (Urban Design Project I, II, III) are for students to explore research questions creatively in a studio setting, guided by tutors and dissertation supervisors.

Study trips are organised each year as part of the design studio, feeding into group research and individual design explorations.



Core Modules

Urban Design Project I - ARC6978 (15 credits)

Urban Design Project II – ARC6981 (30 credits)

Urban Design Project: Thesis Project – ARC6982 (60 credits)

Urban Design Tools and Methods – ARC6979 (15 credits)

History and Theory of Urban Design - ARC6984 (15 credits)

Participation in Architecture and Urban Design - ARC6983 (15 credits)

Trajectories on Urban Design Practice - ARC6975 (15 credits)

Optional Modules

In consultation with your postgraduate tutor, you will also choose one optional module (15 credits) aimed either to enhance understanding of a specific field of interest, or to develop the area of study in which the dissertation and/or subsequent PhD study will be based.

This module can be selected from a rich range of options offered by the School of Architecture, the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of changes the University will consult and inform students in good time and will take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Teaching staff

Core Staff

In 2017-2018 the course was delivered by:

Dr Beatrice De Carli, Programme Leader
Leo Care
Dr Florian Kossak

Related staff

Professor Doina Petrescu

Student experiences

Each year we attract excellent national and international postgraduate students to this School who all contribute to a socially vibrant and academically challenging environment. Here, our students share their reasons for choosing this programme and their experiences in Sheffield.

Ninad Katdare
MA in Urban DesignNinadKatdare

Why did you choose Sheffield?

Being an architect and having an interest in urban design I was looking for architectural schools in the UK.

The reason behind choosing Sheffield is that it is one of the highly ranked universities in the UK in aspects of architecture and learning experience. As recommended by my seniors it gives the diverse scenario in the experience of learning with people from all over the world.

What was your first lecture or studio like?

I was simply amused in my first studio by the teaching and learning style in the university.

As I was from different background, being exposed to more open kind of learning experience was cheerful and interesting. Analysing the importance of research and design together enhanced the new ways of addressing issues while dealing with them.

Do you go on fieldtrips?

Field trip for our studio was one of the best times I had in my masters’ course. 24 of us with a tutor went to Zanzibar, Tanzania for field trip for 14 days. The experience we all had with each other, getting to know many things, gelling up with different minds made us more open towards our work and life too.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

After graduation I would like to apply for doctorate in Sheffield as I was enlightened by many aspects and issues in urban design while doing a masters. I would also like to work in the UK gaining experience in the field. Finally I would like to go back to my country and implement all these things I have learnt in Sheffield.

Chris Hall
MA in Urban Design

Why did you choose Sheffield?

I picked Sheffield because I did my previous Urban Planning undergraduate and masters courses here at the University. I originally chose Sheffield due to its reputation as one of the best places to study Planning in the UK, so the move from there to a top architecture school across the road was natural to me.

What was your studio like?

My first studio included just the Urban Design cohort and looked to teach methodologies of Urban Design using an area of Sheffield’s city centre as a testing ground. It got us out and about in the city and even for someone who has been here a while, it provided a refreshing view of how you can analyse a city.

What is it like to live in Sheffield?

Sheffield is a fascinating city to live in. It combines all the elements of an industrial city with the charm of greenery which leaks in from the Peak District. This, coupled with its friendly northern vibe gives the city a great atmosphere. As an architecture student, you can always occupy yourself with exploring this unique city.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

When I graduate I hope to find a job within the field of Urban Design where I can also put my previous Planning knowledge to practice. The University of Sheffield is well respected both nationally and internationally with employers so I hope I can use this to my advantage.

Kalpana Rai
MA in Urban Design
Kalpana Rai

Why did you choose Sheffield?

Undoubtedly the University’s ranking for Architectural Education was the defining facet of why I applied here. The prompt reply and offer set the motion for further proceedings. Although I came to the UK recently, my parents have been living here for a while and they live in York another historical and beautiful city which is quite close to Sheffield. These factors decided Sheffield University as the right place for me.

What was your background before you came here?

Before coming here for further studies I had been working in an Architectural Firm in Nepal. It was the first place I worked after my graduation and it was exciting because I was involved in a wide range of projects, interacting with different clients and professionals from different fields within the construction industry. Simultaneously I was designing residences and participating in competition project with friends. But after two years of working there I felt the time had come to expand my knowledge and that is why I am here now.

What was your first lecture/studio like?

In this course our first studio was Tool Session which introduced a set of Urban Design Methodologies to establish a strong basis for future Urban Design projects. The session was a combination of lecture and group working. The creative and informal way of learning with discussions and games made the lectures very interesting. Working in groups and making friends who had come from different parts of world and different cultures was fun although challenging at times because of language barrier. But we wouldn’t come this far to learn if we wanted it not to be challenging, different and exciting right!

What are the staff like?

I would definitely give a thumbs up sign whilst talking about Staff here. The lecturers in the University are very supportive, ready to listen to your academic queries and give feedback to guide you in your learning process. As my course includes lots of printing, I found technical staffs from the department very helpful whether I was printing regular drawings or when I was using laser cutter and 3D printing and didn’t have much idea how to proceed. Also there is student support system available in the institution. I have been there few times and every time they have been very efficient and helpful.

View 2017 catalogue of student work

Students present community led regeneration to local people Participatory Urban Design in Zanzibar