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Masters Excellence Scholarshipsup to £500,000 in tuition fee discounts available

Urban Design (MA/PgDip)

MA: 1 year, PgDip/PgCert: 9 months (Full-time) / n/a (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)

Course Aims

The course aims to produce students who can:

Special Features

Accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), allowing completion of the educational requirement for RICS membership.

Cross disciplinary expertise:
Urban design is a discipline that sits between a number of built environment areas of knowledge including urban policy, architectural design, landscape design and property valuation. The MA is taught via lectures, workshops and design studios, by staff drawn from both the Architecture and Planning Schools, who are leading experts in their fields, which include the areas mentioned above. Design Tutors are often leading practitioners who bring bring their experience of cutting edge practice to the core of design studio work.

Professional links and policy relevance:
Designed to be policy-relevant and practice-related, the MA allows students to develop close links with a wide array of organisations involved in the design and regeneration of our urban areas and practitioners will assist students through tutoring, presentations and as key sources in their research work. These organisations include:

These links are also helpful bridges for students’ understanding of the range of possible urban design career opportunities.

Study visits:
Study visits are an intrinsic part of this programme. Where students’ experience during the visits inform assessed assignments in required core modules, the visits are compulsory. At the start of study we will take a 2-night trip to another major UK city to look at developments there. In the last few years, this has been to London. In addition we take days out to regional cities such as Bath and Bristol. Project sites having been chosen in Birmingham, Bristol, Swansea and London. At Easter we also take a one week trip to a major European city. Cities on our list include Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona.

Teaching facilities:
Students benefit from the facilities and technical know-how of both the Planning and Architecture Schools. Teaching takes place in new light-filled studio spaces in the Glamorgan Building. Students also have access to the latest modelling and workshop facilities in the Architecture School.

Course recognition:
The MA is recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute as a 'specialist' masters for those who have completed at least a three year RTPI recognised undergraduate spatial planning degree, allowing completion of the RTPI's educational requirements for membership. For further details visit the Royal Town Planning Institute website.

Course Description

The programme enables students to learn by deploying design, theory, development and design control practices, all of which inform urban design processes. Studio teaching is built around development sites in real contexts to develop creative, practical and sustainable solutions to a range of typical urban design problems.

The course is structured to provide a set of three lecture-based modules and three studio-based design modules, followed by a dissertation. The three lecture-based modules run in parallel with studio-based design projects which enable students to put into practice the theoretical knowledge they are learning. Students then undertake the Research-based Design Project as the culmination of their studies. As part of this module, students will prepare a design relating to a chosen site, demonstrating an understanding of all aspects of urban design through a set of drawings and written commentary. This will be carried out as a studio-based activity.

Course Structure

The MA Urban Design is a one year full-time degree. Contact time is on Tuesday and Thursday each week. Students work in the design studio on Tuesdays and have other modules on Thursdays.

The six core modules are:

These are followed by the Dissertation, which takes the form of a Research-based Design Project. All modules are core and required.

For further details and up-to-date information on the course and modules, including the current year's timetable, please see the Urban Design (ARCHI) webpages.

Skills Acquired

Students can expect to deepen their knowledge and understanding of urban economics and politics, and the role of an urban designer, as well as develop the range of relevant skills to begin or further a career in urban design. These skills are in the areas of: built environment design at a number of scales, graphic communication, urban research, policy research and development, property valuation and community consultation. Generic skills include those in the areas of: effective team working, negotiation and time management.

Career Prospects

Graduates move onto careers as urban designers, or in urban design related work. Most of these careers are to be found within the wider areas of architecture, urban planning, property or public policy. These may be within the public, private or voluntary sectors. Some of our graduates continue to higher research degrees. Guidance and mentoring on careers are provided during the year.

Student Profiles

'Cardiff is a perfect city to study and live in! What else do you need apart from a place which feels like home?'

Karina W. Utami, MA Urban Design, 2013-14

Read Karima's full testimonial

'I come from Indonesia, an archipelago in Southeast Asia. It was during my study in Malaysia for Part 1 Architecture that I met wonderful people who had studied in the UK, particularly in Cardiff. These encounters also influenced me to further my studies in the area of Urban Design. Since urban design addresses a bigger scale compared to architecture, you will always have something new to experience. Urban design is really a ‘one-of-a-kind’ major, where you get to learn a great deal across the design and development fields. It is neither architecture, urban planning nor landscape, but rather, a combination of all those subjects. By studying urban design, it might expand your skills and expertise, and even increase the chance for securing a job. Plus Cardiff is a perfect city to study and live in! What else do you need apart from a place which feels like home?'

'Cardiff is a great place to live and meet new people with an inspiring and professional study environment.'

Clara Köhler, MA Urban Design, 2013-14

Read Clara's full testimonial

'I come from Germany, where I was an undergraduate student in Architecture at the Technische Universität München. During my studies there I did an Erasmus year at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff, which was a life-changing experience for me. After going back to Germany to graduate, I knew that I wanted to come back to Cardiff for my masters, as it is a great place to live and meet new people with an inspiring and professional study environment. I chose the MA Urban Design course because I have always been interested in urban projects and I think that the course, being jointly run by the School of Planning and Geography and the Welsh School of Architecture, is a great opportunity to get in touch and work with other spatial disciplines. With this degree I hope to not only broaden my academic and personal experience, but also set a stepping stone for working as an urban designer in the UK.'

'I would recommend Cardiff University's MA in Urban Design to anyone with a passion for the built environment who seeks a rewarding challenge and the opportunity to learn so much in such a short space of time.'

Edward Law, Senior Associate – Deloitte Real Estate

Read Edward's full testimonial

'I am a graduate of the MA Urban Design (MAUD) programme and currently working for Deloitte in London.  Before studying on the MAUD programme I graduated from the BSc City and Regional planning programme at Cardiff University and gained 18 months experience in transport planning.

'The MAUD programme was an intense but highly fulfilling 12 months whereby I gained a great insight into masterplanning and thinking three-dimensionally. I enjoyed projects at all scales, from high-density residential schemes to small-scale public realm projects as well as a chance to explore the relationship between transport and design in my research based design project.

'Since completing MAUD, I have worked for HOK International as an urban designer on large scale masterplanning projects in Turkey and Belarus.  I am now working in Planning and Development at Deloitte Real Estate where I have been working on a number of strategic land and town centre projects while working towards chartered membership of the RTPI.

'I would recommend MAUD to anyone with a passion for the built environment who seeks a rewarding challenge and the opportunity to learn so much in such a short space of time.'

Edward graduated from MA Urban Design in 2012.

Entry Requirements

Academic Criteria: A First or Second Class Honours degree, or equivalent, in an appropriate subject is usually required. We welcome applications from those with degrees in design, architecture, planning, landscape architecture, civil engineering. However, other subjects will also be considered.

Competency in graphics: All applicants will be required to demonstrate a competency in graphics and design by way of a portfolio. You will be required to submit a portfolio of design or graphic work with their applications. Guidance provided below.

Demonstrable interest in urban design and the issues of contemporary cities: The application form requires you to write a personal statement in support of your application. It is very important to us that you provide the reasons for wanting to study urban design, and what your experience of urban design is.

Guidance on personal statements provided below.

English Language Requirements: For students whose first language is not English, a minimum standard in English language of either IELTS total score 6.5 (no sub-score may be below 5.5) or the equivalent.

No offers will be made until the IELTS or other equivalent English test results have been submitted with the application.

Pre-course English Language tuition is available. Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Please note that additional costs apart from tuition fees and living expenses may be incurred in the course of your studies. These may include costs of printing and binding, model-making material and field study visit costs. This list is not exhaustive.

Guidance for Applicants

Portfolios must contain between 4 and 8 single-sided A4 pages and include design and graphic work providing evidence of observation, analytical and design skills as well as evidence of critical thinking. Please give preference to work relevant to the discipline of urban design. Include only work done individually rather than work that you have been involved in as part of a design team and where your individual contribution is unclear. Portfolios should be presented as a .pdf document, no bigger than 20MB to stating your name and application number.

Personal Statement
The application form requires you to write a personal statement in support of your application. It is very important to us that you provide the following information:

If you don't tell us why you want to study urban design in particular it is unlikely that your application will be successful.

Reference Letters
Y ou should submit two reference letters.


CPLAN Alumni Bursaries: Cardiff School of Planning and Geography is able to offer a reduction in tuition fees of £500 to all Cardiff University alumni.

For other funding opportunities available through the School, please visit their Tuition Fees and Funding webpage.

The fees listed below are those before bursaries have been deducted.

Funding is available for this course, for Home/EU students, through the Cardiff University Postgraduate Taught Scholarship Scheme. For programmes in the Welsh School of Architecture, these scholarships will be awarded as a 50% discount in the tuition fees of successful scholarship applicants. Please visit the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship Scheme webpage for further details and how to apply.

50% fee scholarships are currently available to UK and EU residents applying to study on PGT programmes. The 21st Anniversary Scholarship Fund is designed to attract and reward the brightest students from across the UK and the European Union to study at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University.

Our PGT programmes are open to candidates from architectural and built environment backgrounds and draw on established and widely recognised research strengths within the School. If you are a UK or EU resident with a good academic and /or work experience record we would like to hear from you.

We expect a high level of competition for scholarships and ask for expressions of interest for the course of your choice by 21st June 2014.

Cardiff University Masters Excellence Scheme

This course is included in the Masters Excellence Scholarship 2015 (Pathway to PhD) scheme. If you are looking at applying for a Masters degree with the intention of going on to study at PhD level then you are eligible to apply for this scholarship. The application will ask you to consider your research area and future sources of funding.  It is recognised, however, that in making this application there is not a commitment to undertake further study, or to undertake further studies at Cardiff University.  Similarly, in making an award, Cardiff University is not committing to making an offer for further study or for a further award.

Tuition Fees:

  • UK & EU Full Time (fees are for 2015/16, unless otherwise stated):
  • UK & EU Part Time (fees are for 2015/16, unless otherwise stated):
  • International Full Time (fees are for 2015/16, unless otherwise stated):
  • International Part Time (fees are for 2015/16, unless otherwise stated):
    Please note that additional costs apart from tuition fees and living expenses may be incurred in your course of study. These may include costs of printing/binding, materials, and field visit costs.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Marga Munar Bauza  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 75961 



School Website:

More information