MArch Sustainable Urban Design


Programme Description

The 12 month MArch Sustainable Urban Design course focuses on the design of urban areas and cities and is a research and project-based programme. The course is designed to enhance the quality of our cities by bringing innovative design into a new relationship with the latest theoretical research with regard to the structure of urban form and the creation of urban places in order to respond to the major opportunities and challenges.

The programme draws upon the research and practice expertise of the academic staff within the Department. This includes the authors of internationally renowned books and journal papers on urban design and related areas together with considerable international practice experience that informs the teaching on the programme.

Key facts

  • As part of its remit, the Department of Architecture and Built Environment aims to develop your vocational skills and the environmentally responsible attitude necessary in today's rapidly changing world.
  • The Department enjoys strong collaborative links with professional organisations and international institutions to ensure global awareness and applicability across academia and practice.
  • The University’s former Institute of Urban Planning was one of the first institutes in the country to offer research and postgraduate qualifications in urban design.
  • The MArch Sustainable Urban Design course is suitable for architecture graduates as well as those from related disciplines such as landscape architecture and urban planning.
  • This course does not convey professional accreditation in the UK although the Sustainable Urban Design module does enable students to apply for BREEAM Accredited Graduate status.

Course details

The programme covers place-making, public realm design, urban conservation and regeneration issues, urban design theory and practice and sustainable urbanism theory and application.

Entry requirements:2:1 degree (or international equivalent) in architecture or a similar subject. This must include modules in architectural design amounting to 25%-50% of the total credits. An architectural design portfolio must be submitted.

Course content

Live projects and contemporary urban concerns are analysed and explored through reading, writing and design. The programme's focus on drawings and modelling as tools for analysis, exploration and communication allows a detailed understanding of how to move strategically between the scale of the city and detail of urban design proposals and place-making.

Urban design depends heavily upon imagination, experimentation, and pushing beyond the limitations of current thinking and contemporary practice. Students spend the summer semester producing a supervised research dissertation. This will be an opportunity to conduct a piece of independent research related to the practice of urban design and/or contemporary urban opportunities and challenges.

The programme offers a combination of design modules, lectures and seminars requiring students to work both in small groups and individually. The lectures and seminars discuss key issues of urban design history, theory and practice, particularly in relation to the sustainable context in both theoretical and practical aspects. They provide an understanding of the process of urban change and the role of urban design.

Learning outcomes

Students will acquire knowledge and develop the skills necessary to face contemporary cultural, historical, social, economic and environmental challenges that our towns and cities face in terms of achieving holistic sustainability in those realms.

Students will be encouraged to develop problem-solving skills through creative urban design proposals. They will also develop an understanding of the complex relationship between spatial and design issues and social and economic urban processes.The course also addresses urban design as a mode of research and practice that shapes urban environments, physical or not and responds to current urban issues.

Students will develop the design and research tools which when effectively implemented can secure and deliver projects for the long-term benefit of cities and their communities. The courses emphasise the importance of design creativity, analytical skills, critical thinking and focuses on drawing together with physical and computer modelling as tools for analysis, exploration, communication and design in order to achieve social, cultural and environmental sustainability.

Through its content, this course aims to:

  • bridge the gap between architecture and urban planning,
  • establish a broad theoretical basis of debate related to the practice of urban design,
  • encourage design experimentation and creativity,
  • apply theory and research methods to specific design projects,
  • be environmentally aware and supportive of holistic sustainable practices.

The course emphasises the importance of design creativity, in keeping with the spirit of intellectual freedom and experimentation, which has given the Department of Architecture and Built Environment its international reputation.


  • Masters Design Project 1 (Urban Design A) (20 credits)
  • Urban Design Theory and Practice (20 credits)
  • Masters Design Project 2 (Urban Design B) (30 credits)
  • Places, Cities and Cultures (20 credits)
  • Research and Professional Skills, Tools and Methods (20 credits)
  • Optional choice (10 credits): Sustainable Urban Design; Building with the Past; High Rise Issues
  • Dissertation (60 credits)

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.

Please note that all module details are subject to change.


This MArch programme is project oriented - it explicitly calls for design proposals rather than purely theoretical work.The course stresses the importance of connecting design projects to the broader decision-making context of real and complex projects.

Graduates of the MArch Sustainable Urban Design typically go on to work at the interface between architecture and urban design in architectural or multi-disciplinary practices and design institutes around the world with some progressing onto PhD study either at Nottingham or other leading universities.

This programme has been specifically designed with the profession's needs in mind and most of the graduates from the MArch courses return to work as professionals within both the private and public sector in their own countries. Many do however continue to PhD programmes either at Nottingham or other leading universities.

The University of Nottingham has been recognised as delivering a Gold standard in the Teaching Excellence Framework(TEF), which aims to recognise and reward excellent learning and teaching.

Entry Requirements

  • Entry requirements: 2.1 (Upper 2nd class honours degree or international equivalent).
  • Other requirements: An architectural, planning or landscape design portfolio must be submitted.
  • IELTS: 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element).
Last updated Nov 2018

About the School

TheFaculty of Engineering at Nottinghamis known for its world-class research, inspirational teaching, and diverse academic community.

TheFaculty of Engineering at Nottinghamis known for its world-class research, inspirational teaching, and diverse academic community. Read Less
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