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    MA
    2023 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.
    Our department building on the edge of Western Park

    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.

    Accreditation

    This programme is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Completing an accredited course puts you on track to become a chartered town planner, opening up a wide range of future career opportunities.

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    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.

    Together these Autumn semester modules provide core and contextual subject coverage and key skills. Please note the Professional Skills Development module runs throughout the full academic year.

    Core modules:

    Planning Design and Development

    This module introduces core knowledge and skills for understanding urban development processes and how they shape the built environment. It will explore key factors that shape the quality of development outcomes including policies and plans, urban design principles, and financial viability. The module develops critical awareness of the potential impacts of development projects on people and places and introduces students to principles and practices of site analysis.

    The module will be taught in three blocks where students will learn: i. site appraisal and how to assess the potential of development sites in planning and policy terms; ii. how to identify key principles of good urban design, and; iii. how to assess the financial viability of development schemes.

    Each block will be taught through lectures and workshops that introduce core principles and foundational concepts. Throughout, this will be supplemented by a focus on learning from case studies of urban development, enabling students to begin to apply their understanding to real world examples and to develop skills in critically assessing key factors that shape the quality of urban development and the built environment.

    15 credits
    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
    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. The ethics of professional practice in urban design are explored, including through consideration of equity and inclusivity in design practice. 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
    Professional Skills Development

    This module aims to provide a range of supporting skills for home and international students, which will help you get the most out of your learning in Sheffield, and to prepare you for professional employment development at the end of your their studies. The module has three elements:

    1. Cultures of Learning - understanding how we teach at Sheffield, and how to get the most out of your study

    2. Academic English (assessment support) - sessions for students who do not have English as a native language. The sessions are particularly relevant to your assessment preparation.

    3. Employability Skills - preparing you for careers within planning, design, real estate, global development, GIS and related professional areas. 

    Optional modules - one from:

    Urban Development in the Global South

    This module explores 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 module 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
    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
    Spatial Planning Systems

    This module 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 module will focus around work to understand how spatial planning systems are constructed and mediated by different actors. The module 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

    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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.

    Upcoming open days and campus tours

    Duration

    1 year full-time

    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.

    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

    Department

    Our department building on the edge of Western Park

    We're an internationally-renowned centre of excellence for the study of planning, urban studies and real estate, which includes environmental policy and international development. We help make better, healthier and more sustainable places.

    We're the top-rated Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)-accredited planning school in the UK, according to the Research Excellence Framework 2021.

    Our courses will equip you with the knowledge and skills to build a successful career in planning and other urban studies and environmental professions.

    Our students are at the heart of a vibrant academic community, contributing to the department through our student-staff committee, evaluation processes and involvement in organised events.

    Our staff are approachable and we have an excellent staff-student ratio, resulting in a genuinely friendly and inclusive academic environment. Our cutting-edge research feeds directly into our teaching, and you’ll be taught by world-leading academics in urban studies and planning.

    We have an intellectual reputation for theoretical strength, especially in the fields of urban inequalities and social justice. Alongside this, many of our staff are involved in practical projects with a commitment to producing positive change in the world.

    We work with national governments, international bodies such as the UN, research councils, private business, the voluntary sector, and local communities in Sheffield, the UK and abroad.

    We're a supportive and friendly department where academics and students interact on a day-to-day basis. For this reason, we operate an open door policy and students do not need to book an appointment to talk to their lecturers.

    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

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree.

    We may also consider your application if you do not meet the standard academic requirements but you have relevant professional experience.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    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.

    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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