MA
2022 start September 

Urban Design and Planning

Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences

School of Architecture, Faculty of Social Sciences

Develop your skills in urban design and the planning and the development of cities by studying both the UK urban experience and rapidly urbanising cities in Asia and Africa.
Postgraduate Urban Studies and Planning Student, Hussain Ziyath

Course description

This innovative one-year masters is run jointly by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the School of Architecture. The course will prepare you for a career in the planning and urban design professions and includes opportunities to learn about development and design issues faced in the Global South.

You'll learn about the factors that shape cities and rural areas, and gain a deeper knowledge of a selected specialist aspect of planning. The course will develop your research, policy making and design skills, and your understanding of how to apply research to public policy making and evaluation.

The course draws on leading teaching and research at the University, combining the urban design expertise of the School of Architecture and the international planning expertise of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. This interdisciplinary approach enables you to develop a distinctive approach to urban design and development that is ideally suited to the challenge of managing rapid urban growth and change.

Driven by innovation in both research and teaching, the course will help you learn the principles, techniques and skills required to harness new and emerging technologies for design visualisation. We integrate virtual and augmented reality into our learning and teaching in order to fully prepare you for a career in urban design in the 21st century. These technologies will allow you to create immersive visualisations of designs, viewed through virtual reality headsets, to accurately simulate solutions for real life planning issues.

This course does not require you to have a previous design background. We have students from planning, geography and architecture on the course, but we also have engineers, economists and graphic designers. We take on students with a broader range of skills and experience. The course is international in outlook and we welcome students from around the world.

This MA is intended to provide the core skills and knowledge required for a career in urban design. This includes basic training in the main software packages, including CAAD, Photoshop and Illustrator. Working across Architecture and Planning allows students to develop a distinctive approach to urban design and development which is ideally suited to the challenge of managing rapid urban growth and change. We offer an ‘integrated’ approach to urban development that is increasingly required by leading consultants and city authorities around the world. The course also includes a strong real estate dimension in order to ensure that urban design training takes account of the economics of development.

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Accreditation

The course is recognised as a Specialist Planning Programme and partially accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute. This means that the course is accredited by the RTPI but once you've graduated you will need to complete further spatial study and/or gain requisite professional experience before you can become a chartered planner.

Course director Dr Bobby Nisha discusses our MA Urban Design and Planning course

Modules

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

There are a wide range of engaging elective modules, allowing you to develop specialist knowledge in planning, architecture and design, or real estate. The programme includes a fully supervised thesis design project or research dissertation allowing you to combine your knowledge and skills in design, planning, and property development. 

Students can select optional modules from across the two departments. You will benefit from inputs across planning, architecture and real estate. For the extended dissertation project students can choose the thesis design studio option run by Architecture, a design thesis in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, or a conventional written dissertation.

Core modules:

Perspectives on Spatial Planning and Development

This module is seen as core in developing initial knowledge and understanding of planning and urban development. It critically explores the role of spatial ideas in planning policy and practice and plays a key part in developing critical skills and understanding of different contexts and environments relevant to that practice. The module covers urbanisation in a range of contexts and examines how spatial planning seeks to respond to key economic, environmental and social challenges.

15 credits
Research Methods

This module aims to develop core knowledge and skills required to undertake research in planning, housing, urban design and real estate. It provides grounding in the design of research projects, linking this to both underlying principles (intellectual and ethical) and the choice of methods for data collection and analysis. The emphasis is on engendering an understanding of the research design process, rather than on training in specific methods, and so forms a critically important part of the initial preparation for the Masters dissertation.

15 credits
Principles of Urban Design

An introduction to the essential design components, principles and theories that inform urban design practice today. This module examines the core components that make up urban spaces and how they can be analysed. The key objectives that inform many urban design practices are also explored, including legibility, diversity, safety and sustainable design. Teaching will draw on practical examples, using seminars, lectures and student site visits and virtual reality to develop skills in analysis and evaluation of urban spaces and their design.

15 credits

Optional modules - one from:

Urban Development in the Global South

This module looks at the challenges of urban planning and development in the global South: how are conflicting imperatives of ecological sustainability, social inclusion and economic competitiveness being balanced by practitioners, and what implications does this have for those living there? The unit will develop understanding of how urban planning systems are constructed and mediated by different actors. The unit will use a series of scenarios representing some of the diversity of conditions that exist in the global South to develop understandings of how planning systems shape and are shaped by the contexts in which they operate.

15 credits
Spatial Planning Systems

This unit provides an introduction to state-led planning. It considers the administrative, legal and political contexts in which planning decisions are made and the role of different groups in mediating land-use development. The unit will focus around work to understand how spatial planning systems are constructed and mediated by different actors. The unit will use practical scenarios to explore how action surrounding development might be organised, the ways in which the state is talked about and how it is organised, as well as the means by which the state makes planning policies and implements these.

15 credits
Politics, Planning and the State

Understanding how cities function is central to the role of planners, urban policy advisers, and other built environment professionals. Drawing on cities from different national contexts, this unit provides an introduction to the administrative, legal and political contexts in which decisions are made about planning, regeneration and development and the role different groups play in mediating and affecting development. The module explores how practitioners approach urban development challenges, define problems and frame policy interventions. Conceptual and practice-based perspectives are employed to encourage students to think critically about the tensions and trade-offs that confront those involved in planning and managing cities.

15 credits

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; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Teaching

You'll be taught by experts in their field, based in two of the country's leading schools in architecture and planning, giving you a truly interdisciplinary experience.

Duration

1 year full-time

Your career

The UK has a shortage of trained urban designers and there are significant opportunities for urban designers around the world. Past planning graduates with a design interest have been well placed for jobs around the world, and particularly in China where there is a strong demand for the integrated approach offered by the MAUDP. Some of our graduates stay on to do PhDs, as we are a leading centre for doctoral training and research.

The employability of our graduates is of paramount importance to us. The development of skills, knowledge and personal attributes that enhance your career underpins our programme design. We have a dedicated Employability Manager, Amy Woolley, to support you. We’ll prepare you for employment after graduation.

How we'll help you prepare for your future career

Student profiles

Postgraduate Urban Studies and Planning Student, Ana Maria Monsalve Sanchez

I chose to study at Sheffield because of its good international rankings and the scholarship I was awarded. After completing my MA I would like to stay in the UK to acquire professional experience and then return to work in my home country. Urban studies is all about social research, I see myself working with communities to improve the physical and social conditions of urban areas.

Ana Maria Monsalve Sanchez
MA Urban Design and Planning

Entry requirements

For UK students, the usual entry requirement is a 2:1 degree or evidence of equivalent achievement (for example, a professional qualification combined with work experience).

We will consider your application if you have a 2.2 degree but we would expect you to have evidence of work experience or other relevant activity.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

Pathway programme for international students

If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Fees and funding

Field classes

Costs for field classes are not included in the tuition fee. 

Apply

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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