Welsh School of Architecture

MA in Urban Design

The Cardiff MA Urban Design has just received Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accreditation, effective from September 2012.

Graduates of the MA Urban Design will now have access onto the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) process, which is the route towards becoming a Chartered Planning & Development Surveyor.

Part-time options also available.


Urban Design - the knowledge and skills necessary to design and deliver better urban places.

The MA Urban Design is jointly run by the Cardiff School of Planning and Geography and the Welsh School of Architecture. It is currently being managed and administered by the School of Planning and Geography.

Teaching takes place in brand new light-filled studio spaces in the Glamorgan Building. Students also have access to the latest modelling and workshop facilities in the Architecture School.

The course uses design practice, theory, development and control practices to inform design processes, and uses studio teaching focused on local development possibilities to develop creative, practical and sustainable solutions to a range of typical urban design problems.

The course seeks to produce students who can:

  • Think three-dimensionally and creatively manipulate space at the intermediate scale between architecture and planning
  • Analyse the qualities of localities and places and respond to complex and often contradictory community aspirations
  • Critically appraise development (built and proposed) and make suggestions for improvement, and develop improved policy and control practices
  • Conceptualise and draw development proposals at the settlement, neighbourhood and block scales
  • Be able to recognise and add quality in all development situations
  • Test developments for their sustainability, economic viability and constituency
  • Understand how to approach implementation through inter-professional and inter-agency collaboration and consensus building

A short film introducing the MA Urban Design

Course Recognition

This 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 Structure

The course is structured to provide a set of six core modules, which are:

  • Urban Design Thinkers
  • Design Guidance and Control
  • Urban Design Foundation
  • Studio 1
  • Studio 2
  • Research Methods and techniques

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.

Student Work

Some examples of work done by our current students can be seen here.

Click the images below for a larger view

Study Visits

Study visits are an intrinsic part of this programme. 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.

Professional Links

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.


Applications for this programme should be made on a postgraduate course application form, available from the Cardiff University webpage.

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:

  • Tell us why you want to study urban design.
  • Tell us whether and how you have dealt with urban design issues within your previous studies.
  • Tell us about any work experience that you have.

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


All students will be required to submit a portfolio of design or graphic work with their applications. Portfolios must contain at least 16 single-sided A4 pages and no more than 40 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 must be in a PDF format . An example portfolio has been attached for your attention. Please email as a PDF file no greater than 20MB.

Further information

Language Requirements

A minimum standard in English language of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent will be required from students whose first language is not English. No offers will be made until the IELTS score has been submitted with the application.

MA in Urban Design Timetable click here to download pdf

The programme is only offered on full-time basis.

See this course on the University's Coursefinder website.

For further details and application forms:

Postgraduate Taught Admissions
Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 74882
Email: cplan-pgtadmissions@cardiff.ac.uk