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Urban Design & Planning

MSc Urban Design & Planning
Urban design lies at the interface of architecture and urban planning, with both disciplines contributing complementary but contrasting approaches to urban design theory and practice. This Masters programme is focused on the role of urban design in the context of urban planning, and is delivered with an emphasis on the distinct methodologies, professional perspectives and pedagogies of that discipline.

It provides specialist knowledge and skills in: urban design theory; urban conservation; risk, resilience and sustainability; as well as social science research methods applied to the built environment. The programme will enable graduates to work as part of a multidisciplinary team to create better places through urban design. Students will also have the opportunity to draw upon the School’s specialist research and teaching in environmental policy, to place urban design centre-stage in tackling wider environmental risks.

This programme will equip planners and others working in related areas with the capacity to develop urban design solutions, to analyse them critically and to provide guidance in regards to their implementation one for which there is a growing demand. This includes traditional urban design concerns surrounding the urban public realm, residential quality etc., but also emerging challenges surrounding the role of urban design in mitigating or adapting to climate change, the role of design in promoting ‘healthy’ cities or neighbourhoods, and the incorporation of ‘nature’ into design (e.g. bio-mimicry) to address biodiversity loss.

The MSc Urban Design & Planning is accredited as a specialist qualification by the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Course Description
The MSc Urban Design and Planning will be delivered via a mix of: traditional lecture formats, seminars, field-based learning, studio-based teaching (intensive, interactive, practice-based labs), student-led seminars, as well as a thesis, and professional development skills training. Planning and architecture practitioners will be involved in the programme delivery (e.g. attending studio presentations, providing ‘real world’ challenges to inform teaching) to maximize relevance for professional skills development.

Indicative modules are listed below.
Core modules in urban design context and theory provide students with foundation knowledge in urban design.
- Placemaking*
- Conservation, History Theory and Politics
- The Urban Environment: Risk, Resilience and Sustainability

*Graduates of teh BA Planning, Geography and Environment programme who register for the MSc Urban Design & Planning, and who have already taken the module Placemaking, will take the modules Introduction to Urban Design in its place.

Three major studio modules will be undertaken by students to ensure the effective application of knowledge to design challenges. The first will focus on developing a strategy for a small to medium-sized town. The second focuses on applying urban design theory in a practical setting to explore design concepts and urban development processes.
- Interdisciplinary Studio
- Urban Design Studio
- Nature-based Solutions

Core modules in research skills are designed to enable students to undertake an effective Masters thesis, to apply research skills to other modules (e.g. studios), and to act as a foundation for students wishing to pursue PhD study. These modules comprise:
- Geographical Information Systems for Policy and Planning
- Research Design and Methods

An MSc thesis will be undertaken over the summer semester. Graduates will have the opportunity to choose either a traditional research thesis, or to complete the thesis element through preparation of a design thesis. The design thesis option involves the application of research in developing an innovative urban design project appropriate to the site and to the specific complex urban design challenge(s) being investigated and addressed.

Continuing Professional Development Skills will be both embedded into modules (e.g. communication, graphic, research skills) and delivered where appropriate in the form of one-off workshops (e.g. interview/job search skills).

Entry requirements

A 3-year Bachelor's degree with minimum 2.2 award (NFQ level 8) or international equivalent in cognate discipline, including planning, geography, anthropology, sociology, environmental studies, engineering, property economics, surveying, politics, social science, and law.


1 Year Full Time

Careers or further progression

Career Opportunities
This Masters trains, mentors and support graduates in developing their specialist knowledge and understanding, along with transferable skills and tools, for careers related to the field. These include roles in the public, private and community sectors, including planning and urban design consultancies, local authorities, development firms, regeneration companies, environmental and other NGOs, as well as research and teaching.

Further enquiries

Contact Name: Michelle Mathews
Contact Number: +353(0)1 716 1802

Subjects taught

Stage 1 - Core
Postgraduate Studio ARCT40680
Urban Design Studio ARCT40690
Geographical Information Systems for Policy and Planning PEP40100
Research Design & Methods PEP40640
Urban Env: Risk, Resil, Sust PEP40700
Nature-Based Solutions PEP40860

Stage 1 - Option
Research & Innovation in the Designed Environment ARCT40020
Introduction to Urban Design ARCT40660
Placemaking: Urban and Rural Design PEP40050
Economic and Property Markets PEP40270
Thesis PEP40600
Design Thesis PEP40890


Who should apply?
Full Time option suitable for:
Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

The MSc Urban Design and Planning offers the opportunity to develop core, transferable and specialist skills and knowledge in urban design and planning, as well as skills and knowledge which are transferrable to other careers. While the programme will be of interest primarily to graduates from a planning background, applications will be considered from those with other disciplinary and professional backgrounds.

The programme also offers the opportunity for mid-career public and private sector planners to upskill in the commercially important area of urban design. The programme is accredited as a specialist qualification by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and this qualification is internationally recognised, and will thereby provide a pathway to qualification as a professional planner for graduates with a 'spatial' accredited degree.

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake: 2017/2018 September.

Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised.

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