Bird's eye view of Glasgow

MSc/PgDip/PgCertUrban Design

Why this course?

David Rudlin, Urban Designer As a result of winning the UDG Practice award I was invited to judge the 2015 awards including the student awards. The students from Strathclyde were producing a very different level of work ...this relates to the plot-based approach to masterplanning that comes out of Strathclyde's research agenda. In my view this is important work in its own right. However it also seems that, as a process, it allows students of all abilities to produce a much higher standard of masterplan than is to be found in other schools.

David Rudlin, URBED

Recent data and predictions on the forthcoming rate of urbanisation make cities the most common living environment of the future.

What kind of life will it be for the seven billion people who will live in existing or developing cities? Cities hold tremendous potential, but at the same time are sources of stress, inequalities and pollution. We're working to improve cities to better support fulfilling and diverse lifestyles.

Urban design has an important role in determining both the current and future form of cities. The responsibility for the development and management of cities is becoming increasingly shared.

This course is designed for practitioners and students to enhance their understanding of the city as a complex and dynamic system.

While your focus will be on physical planning and the design of urban spaces and buildings, the various influencing factors that affect form will also be considered.

The major topic is the European metropolis, or city region, within the context of globalisation. You’ll learn to develop appropriate strategies for sustainable urban development. This will encompass social, political, economic, environmental, architectural, aesthetic and psychological aspects.

You’ll study

Your course is delivered through studio work, lectures, seminars and a research project.

The studio involves work on the design of a complex urban area. This includes the levels of the entire city, the neighbourhood and the individual public space defined by urban architecture.

The course is strongly linked to the Urban Design Studies Unit's research agenda. All that is taught in both classes and studio is based on our excellent research record and helps advance it.

The department is in a partnership board with the department of Urban Studies´╗┐ at Glasgow University. Its renowned teachers and researchers contribute a real estate and policy and practice overview to the course.



There are two fully-networked design studios; one dedicated to student self-study, the other to interactive design teaching.


In addition to the main University library, we have our own, on-site, reference library. Our collection is developed in direct response to the teaching delivered in the department.


A full range of hand and portable power tools are available (complete with instruction).

We offer plotter printing, scanning and laser cutting services.

Find out more about the full range of facilities we have on offer.


This MSc course has recently gained accreditation from the Royal Town Planning Institute as a specialist course.

Student competitions

Students have previously won:

  • The Urban Design Group Award
  • The RTPI Scotland Chapter Award
  • The Urbanpromo International Jury Design 1st Prize

Visit our excellence and awards page to find out more.

Course content


The combination of taught elements and studio design elements constitute the PgDip part of the course.

Compulsory classes


The studio element of the course involves the strategic and detailed work of a complex urban area and is linked to the taught courses. It's generally based on a 'commission' by a client who we keep in touch with over the year through meetings and public events. It's an intensive piece of work but very rewarding.

Urban Design History

The class covers how elements such as streets, squares, urban blocks have changed through time and what factors shaped them.

Development Process & Urban Design Policy & Practice

This class looks at the economic, policy and implementation aspects of urban design, studied through theory and practical examples.

Urban Theory

You'll look at how urban ideas, theories and approaches have responded to contextual conditions in time and how they have shaped human lives and the environment for generations to come. Also explored is the current urban challenges and the fit of current urban design tools and approaches.

Elective classes

Cultural and Behavioural Factors in Architecture and Urbanism
This class introduces students to the field of environment-behaviour studies looking at cultural, social, and psychological issues in architecture and urban design.
Urban Landscape Design

You'll look at the impact of the urban landscape on human wellbeing and perception and the role of ecological networks as an integral part of urban form.

Urban Design Representation

Key tools for the effective representation and visual communication of urban design ideas, strategies, projects.


We'll cover the impact of growth on social, economic and environmental sustainability.


MSc students only

Dissertation Project

To achieve the award of MSc in Urban Design you're required to undertake an additional piece of research which you'll select in line with the Urban Design Unit’s specialisms. This is an exciting opportunity to join our research community.

Learning & teaching

Courses are taught through lectures, seminars and studio work as well as a piece of research (MSc students only).

Lectures and seminars are delivered through a variety of modes including short intensive sessions to allow for flexible booking by CPD and part-time students. There's also occasional site visits. 

The taught element of the course starts from a solid grounding in urban design history and theory. It then concentrates on current urban challenges, from climate change to the pressures for development in both developed and developing countries. It culminates with the research work carried out in the Urban Design Studies Unit and teaches you the unit’s ethos and approach to urbanism. 

Guest lectures

We regularly organise a guest lecture series linked to the taught and design element of the course. The Urban Design Studies Unit also organise specialist events. In the coming session students of the course will be involved in a week-long seminar/event with the famous advocate-urbanist and writer Chuck Wolfe.

Recent speakers include:

  • Joan Callis, Benedetta Tagliabue EMBT, Architects to the Scottish Parliament
  • Prof Neil Spiller, Professor of Architecture and Digital Theory, Rachel Armstrong Senior Lecturer in Research and Enterprise, University of Greenwich
  • Andres Duany, Principal Duany Plater Zyberk and Company
  • Andy Cameron, Author of Manual for Streets, Director WSP
  • Murray Grigor, Photographer and Film Maker
  • Prof Ian Borden, Author and Professor of Architecture, Bartlett, UCL
  • Richard Murphy OBE, Architect
  • Gordon Benson, Benson and Forsyth. Museum of Scotland, National Museum of Ireland
  • Professor C J Lim, Vice-Dean at The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London. Has 4 RIBA President’s Medals International Teaching Awards
  • Chris McAvoy, Steven Holl Architects, Glasgow School of Art Reid Building.


Assessment criteria are linked to the learning outcomes set for each individual class and these are published in the modules descriptors which are available to students. The criteria is also explained by staff at the start of each class, to make sure that you're comfortable and clear with what is expected of you.

The assessment of studio work is developed collaboratively between staff and students. Learning outcomes are linked to criteria and performances. This increases your sense of ownership of the learning process and is integral to the course.

On successful completion of studio and classes you’ll be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma. If you complete an additional research element you’ll receive an MSc in Urban Design.

Entry requirements

An Honours degree, or equivalent, in a discipline related to the built environment and the city (eg architecture, planning, engineering, and other built environment disciplines). Candidates with alternative professional experience may also be considered.

The course is open to students with various backgrounds related to the built and natural environment. If you come from design-based disciplines (ie. Architecture, landscape architecture), please submit a portfolio of design work, to illustrate the range of scales and variety of projects you've been involved in, as well as your graphic skills. 

If you come from a non-design based discipline, please explain in your Statement of Purpose where your interest in urbanism comes from, and try and give us an overview of your knowledge in the area. We would be delighted to review a portfolio, if you have one, of any work you might have collected relevant to the subject of the course.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

To find out more about the courses and opportunities on offer visit or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future. You can also complete the online application form. To ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • 2017/18 - £5,500

Rest of UK

  • 2017/18 - £9,000


  • 2017/18 - £14,800

How can I fund my course?

Scholarship search

Faculty of Engineering Excellence Scholarships (FEES) for International Students

We're offering a number of scholarships for self-funded, international (non-EU) fee-paying students with excellent academic qualifications.

Awards are for course fees and differ for undergraduate, postgraduate and postgraduate research students.

You must have applied for a relevant course of study, and start your degree from September 2017 (or later in the 2017-2018 academic year).

Scottish students

Students living in Scotland can find out more about funding from the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

English students

Students ordinarily resident in England may be eligible to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover their tuition fees and living costs.

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.


Graduates leave us with a detailed knowledge and innovative skills in an area now in great demand. Past graduates are now working in:

  • large practices (i.e. Rogers and Associates, Llewelyn & Davies)
  • government
  • academia, as teachers and researchers
  • local non-governmental organisations
  • local authorities
  • their own practices

Job titles include:

  • Senior Street Design Officer
  • Lecturer
  • Researcher
  • Community Engagement Officer

Employers include:

  • Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners
  • Llewelyn and Davies
  • Architecture and Design Scotland
  • Glasgow City Council
  • University of Buffalo
  • University of Strathclyde
  • Anderson Bell and Christie
  • Edinburgh Council
  • TCV Scotland
  • The Highland Council
  • Transco

Contact us


Urban Design

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Urban Design

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Urban Design

Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Urban Design

Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Urban Design

Qualification: PG Certificate, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Urban Design

Qualification: PG Certificate, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Discover more about Strathclyde

Department of Architecture

Find out more about studying with us.

‘Lookout’ by Angus Ritchie & Daniel Tyler, Photo: Ross Campbell/Daniel Tyler

Architecture - our research

Our research is structured around key themes in architectural design, sustainability and urban design.

Photo by Yoon Chi Ming

Life in Glasgow

We're one of Europe's most vibrant cities. Voted the ‘friendliest city in the world’ in a recent Rough Guide poll, we're also named a must-visit destination in the New York Times, The Guardian and Wanderlust.

Glasgow at Night - Clyde, Crane, Armadillo, Hydro

Take a tour of engineering

Postgraduate students Chris and Cuebong take us on a tour of all our engineering departments. Find out more!