The Bartlett Development Planning Unit



How the MSc Building & Urban Design in Development is structured.

Structure Overview

This is an intensive 12 month programme that immerses students in the theory and practice of urban design and its role in building cities and communities that are just and sustainable. The course modules consists of:

  • Three core modules (90 credits) that are compulsory for all students;
  • A choice of two optional modules (making up 30 credits); and
  • A dissertation report (60 credits), where students can explore their own research interests.

The compulsory modules are designed to provide the core building blocks that cultivate interdisciplinary professionals who can engage holistically in building better urban futures. The optional modules give students an opportunity to dive deeper into the topics closer to their interests. Please see the Content section for a detailed breakdown of the modules.

Teaching and Learning Approach

The course is delivered through a range of lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies, and practical experience through field work. It involves individual reading, essay writing, interdisciplinary design project work, as well as group project work. There is a particular focus on learning through case study analysis and learning by doing, through several field work opportunities.

In addition to acquiring specific thematic knowledge, students are also exposed to the learning of transferable skills through the practices of critical thinking, action orientated research, social-spatial analysis, design research, citizen engagement and creative design practice, all core to being an urban practitioner.

Workshops and Field Work

Students have the unique opportunity to attend several field workshops and expeditions that expose them to experiential learning through the interdisciplinary reading and analysis of urban space in situ:

  • Windsor Workshop - During the first term, students attend an intensive three day residential workshop in Windsor together with students from the Development Planning Unit. The workshop exposes students to their first challenge – working on a case study in collaboration with expert practitioners and students from a wide range of disciplines.
  • BUDD Camp – This takes students to a European city in the second term. Recent camps have taken place in Brescia, Italy for a three day intensive urban analysis and design reflection workshop. Each year a different lens of analysis is considered and students publish their reflections in a BUDD Camp publication series. Equipped with the tools taught in the first term and a brief that describes the lens of analysis, students are transported into a real world, case-based learning opportunity. 
  • International Field Work - During the third term, students carry out a longer field expedition in a city of the Global South. Previous filed work has taken place in Turkey, India, Thailand and Cambodia. This gives students the opportunity to work alongside local organisations and community groups in delivering real-time, bottom up social-urban change. Students work in groups, exploring and experiencing the urban issues they have been learning about. They are also asked to help communities draw up design interventions to tackle their specific challenges. Students collate their strategies in a final, end-of-year report that forms part of their final assessment.
  • London Based Project - As part of the core module (BENVGBU1 Transforming Local Areas), students undertake a London-based urban design project in which they demonstrate their understanding of urban analysis and transform this into holistic design strategies. Students work in groups together with local partners to gain an understanding of the place in question and its challenges, and respond with a detailed urban analysis and development brief. This report forms part of their final assessment.