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Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes

A unique cross-faculty course that cuts across various departments of The Bartlett to explore urban design as a critical arena for advanced research and practice.

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About the course

The Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes is a one-year Master of Research degree that will provide you with a unique and in-depth opportunity to study from various departments across The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, creating an space for you to examine the challenges of urban design through interdisciplinary perspectives, in a short period of time. Our course is interdisciplinary in addressing the most pressing challenges of cities today, including aspects of equity, equality, and justice, physical and mental health and wellbeing, urban temporality and experience, and in debating the role of growth-led versus restorative post-growth development approaches, all in a world challenged by climate change. Not only will we expose you to the diversity of urban design teaching and the latest, cutting edge research from across The Bartlett, but we will also help you to gain skills in conducting individual urban design research, offering insights into the experience of completing a PhD and life as an academic researcher. 

Our course is designed to allow you to tailor your learning both to your own academic and professional background, as well as how you wish to specialise in your future career in the field of the built environment. We welcome home and international graduates of all bachelor's degrees, wishing to gain the critical research skills and creative specialist knowledge to become a successful urbanist. We also welcome mature professionals who wish to specialise in urban design, planning and cities. Our course an ideal opportunity for a one-year career break, with you returning to the workplace as a highly critical and knowledgeable urban design professional. 

Course highlights

The Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes:

  • A unique, highly flexible and bespoke programme designed to support your research vision and professional focus and ambitions, where you can tailor choose from a variety of modules offered by The Bartlett Faculy of the Built Environment and wider UCL
  • Provides you with extreme flexibility in shaping your own study agenda, with support from a supervisor
  • Offers you access to world-known researchers, and the opportunity to learn from the latest cutting-edge research from across the faculty and beyond. 
  • Proactively helps you shape your own research project where you will bring in your own skills and experiences, and apply critical and advanced knowledge of urbanism theory, critiques and research methodologies.
  • Operates as a stand alone, high-level master's course and a step in the direction of further research at PhD level.

Celebrating 10 years of the Interdisicplinary Urban Design MRes

Join us on 6 March 2024, for the launch of our Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes Exhibition, Research Catalogue launch and Opening of our Research Seminar Series where you can learn about how our 10 years of research excellence at the Bartlett School of Planning. This event will take place both in-person and online.


Why choose to study interdisciplinary urban design at The Bartlett?

  • The Bartlett is ranked #1 in the world for Architecture and the Built Environment, and remains #1 in the UK for the ninth year in a row, in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023, remaining #1 in the world for the ninth year running.
  • The Bartlett is the UK’s largest and most multidisciplinary hub for education and research in the built environment field, with a unique breadth and excellence recognised in our research.  
  • UCL has been awarded the University of the Year 2024 by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.
  • Study in London, a dynamic city ranked Best Student City 2024 by the QS World University Rankings.

Who should apply?

As we offer an interdisciplinary course, we welcome applicants from all academic backgrounds.

In previous years, our groups of students have consisted of a mix of disciplines including: architecture, planning, urban design, landscape architecture, heritage and conservation, geography, anthropology, environmental studies, political sciences, real estate or civil engineering, arts, media communication, and more.

Apply now


Course structure

The Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes has a simple and highly flexible structure, designed to allow you to tailor your learning to your own academic and professional background, as well as to how you wish to specialise in your future career. 

In terms one and two, you will choose from modules in interdisciplinary urban design from across The Bartlett, with your studies supplemented by core teaching of urban design research methodologies and urban investigations. Our core modules, 'Urban Investigations', 'Urban Design Research Methodologies', and the 'Urban Design Research Project', provide in-depth knowledge in the areas of urban design theory, urban critiques and activism in planning and design, the multitude of urbanism research methodologies, and the design and practice of research projects. These three core modules support the development of critical thinking, research skills and their application into a personal research project. In term three, you will present your urban design research project proposal and work on your project over the summer term.

The following diagram illustrates the structure of the Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes over one year of study:

Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes course structure diagram
Read more about our core modules

The Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes amounts to a total of 180 credits and has a modular structure comprising three compulsory core modules:

  • Urban Investigations is a core module of the MRes in Interdisciplinary Urban Design, and builds upon the wide-ranging research and professional expertise in urban design found across The Bartlett. It exposes students to the series of urban scale research projects / problems being examined at UCL (and beyond) and offers the opportunity to discuss the latest urban design research theories and methodologies, processes and practices. These provide a fundamental underpinning, and critical knowledge framework, which assist the production of an urban design research proposal later in the year. 
  • Urban Design Methodologies. The overall aim of this module is to expose students to, and deliver the opportunity to critically discuss the multitude of methodological theories, and interdisciplinary processes, tools and practices of data collection and data generation, as well methods of representation, which define the field of urban design research practice. It is a a solely dedicated space to critically explore the field of urban design research methodologies, and support the design of PGT urban design students research proposals.    
  • Urban Design Research Project. To conclude the MRes Inter-disciplinary Urban Design students will design, produce and delivery of their own Urban Design Research Project. The Urban Design Research Project represents an in-depth exploration of a complex topic / problem. It will provide a demonstration of theoretical knowledge and rigorous and incisive analysis. The project should embrace the complexity of the chosen topic and apply knowledge in a critical and reflective manner. This module support students with multiple Seminars and Workshops supporting their own research project development and writing process. 
Read more about our suite of optional modules

60 credits of your degree will be dedicated to a suite of optional modules from across the Bartlett and UCL, each of which explores the broad territory of urban design from a different perspective. These are chosen by you according to your own academic background and professional experience, in order to understand the academic/disciplinary lens through which the material of the module is taught, and as a means to gain an in-depth understanding of methods and approaches to the study of urban design.

You may choose from a variety of optional modules offered by The Bartlett School of Planning, The Bartlett School of Architecture, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, The Bartlett Centre for Applied Spatial Analysis (CASA), The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources (BSEER), the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP), the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP), the UCL Urban Laboratory, the UCL Department of Geography Department, UCL Anthropology, and other allied department and institutes both within the UCL and The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment.

The following are examples of possible combinations of modules according to area of research interest*: 

Possible combination - Public art, power and equality:

  • Art in The Public Sphere (15 credits) 
  • Design as a Knowledge Process (15 credits) 
  • The Representation of Cities (30 credits) 

Possible combination - Sustainable urban regeneration:

  • Sustainable Property: Valuation, Investment, Development (15 credits) 
  • Sustainable Futures by Design (15 credits) 
  • Urban Design: Layout, Density and Typology (15 credits) 
  • Urban Regeneration: Development Projects (15 credits) 

Possible combination - Power, participation and representation in neighbourhood planning:

  • Cities Space and Power (15 credits) 
  • Civic Design (15 credits) 
  • Representation of the Cities (30 credits) 

Possible combination - Climate change and cities in the Global South:

  • Climate Change in Global South Cities (15 credits) 
  • Critical Urbanism Studio II (15 credits) 
  • Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South (15 credits) 
  • Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities (15 credits) 

*Please note: The above are examples for illustration purpose only. The selection of electives should be discussed with and approved by the Programme Director. 


More details of these modules can be found in the UCL module catalogue.

Please note that the course structure and list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Additionally, your final choice of modules may be restricted by the UCL timetable.


Urban Design Research Projects 

Our Urban Design Research Project module will provide you with the opportunity to conduct a major individual research project that explores the nature of interdisciplinary urban design as a key dimension for understanding and unlocking complex urban problems. Final outputs of the urban design research project take the form of a 15,000-word dissertation thesis or a 10,000-word research report (if major design research project-based). Topics are very broad and methods interdisciplinary as they reflect, first, the diverse perspectives on urban design represented across UCL, and second, the interests and experiences that students themselves bring to their study.

Discover the project posters designed by students of the Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes for their urban design research projects:

Habits Around Co-Working Space: Making Place in Spitalfields, London
By Irene Manzini Ceinar

Infrastructures of Reception: The Spatial Politics of Refuge in Mannheim, Germany
By Gala von Nettelbladt

Re-tracing Home: Conversations with Syrian Newcomers on the "Arrival Crisis" in Berlin
By Benedikt Stoll

Explore our archive of Urban Design Research Project posters

2015-16


2014-15


2013-14


Field trips

Our course also includes a residential field trip during which themes relevant to the course are explored in different place contexts. This is an opportunity for our students to consider built environment issues in real world settings and network as a course community. The cost of travel and accommodation for the field trip are covered by UCL although students will need to cover meals and other personal expenses.


Your future career

The Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes is founded on the belief that, in urban design, a research perspective provides a critical dimension of advanced professional practice, whilst better practice is the worthy ultimate goal of good urban research.

With our emphasis on the power of urban design, our belief in interdisciplinarity, and our questioning of urban design research methodologies, the Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes opens up a range of future career opportunities for you and provides the ideal training for a PhD and subsequent positions in academia or other research projects.  

What our alumni say

Shani Pearlman
Shani Pearlman 
2022-23 student

Weiyi Yang
Weiyi Yang
2022-23 student

Chloe McFarlane
Chloe McFarlane
2020-22 student

This program is what I was looking for in my master’s degree, diverse, flexible, and enriching. I find the variety of lecturers from different backgrounds and research topics fascinating and challenging to my thinking. The core courses deepened my understanding of research in urban design, helping me develop my own research path.

Across all the modules I have taken, there has been a great emphasis on developing my critical thinking, and all the tutors I have encountered have been very welcoming. The support given by the course coordinator is an essential part of the experience. Knowing that there is someone to consult with academically or personally has been very helpful, making this course even more costume made and unique. 

I love my life in the MRes family. I enjoy the rich elective modules, close interaction between tutors and classmates, and cutting-edge urban design research. Best of all, I could focus on my own research interests while getting help from all aspects of MRes.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the MRes! You can choose a diverse range of electives, from the School of Geography to DPU, really enriching your perspectives of urban regeneration and what constitutes a “good city”. This niche course provides a level playing field for everyone – endless and energising debates with artists, film makers and environmental psychologists to space syntax specialists and urban planners about innovative ways of tackling complex urban challenges.

Read more about student life at The Bartlett School of Planning by visiting the Student experiences page. 


Staff

The Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes draws on the expertise of its staff and supervisors from all areas of The Bartlett (including The Bartlett School of Planning, The Bartlett School of Architecture, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit) wider UCL (including the UCL  Department of Geography and from the UCL Centre for Transport Studies. As a student of the Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes, you will be able to tap into one of the largest global concentrations of urban design related researchers and professional expertise found anywhere in the world.

Throughout the year, you will maintain close contact with the programme director of the Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes and to your allocated supervisor, who will be a member of academic staff at The Bartlett. The programme director is responsible for the day to day running of the course, for its academic direction and for your academic progression and welfare. Your supervisor will work with you on the preparation of your research proposal, and eventually on your Urban Design Research Project. Additionally, PhD students studying urban design within the faculty act as mentors for you, helping you to progress and fully engage with the course, school, faculty and college.

Programme Director

Dr Filipa Wunderlich
View Filipa's profile

Teaching staff

Richard Sobey
The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
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Professor Matthew Carmona
The Bartlett School of Planning
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Dr Pablo Sendra
The Bartlett School of Planning
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Dr Michael Short
The Bartlett School of Planning
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Professor Stephen Marshall
The Bartlett School of Planning
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Professor Sam Griffths
The Bartlett School of Architecture
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Professor Camillo Boano
The Bartlett Development Planning Unit
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Professor Iain Borden
The Bartlett School of Architecture
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Professor Peter Bishop
The Bartlett School of Architecture
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Dr Pushpa Arabindoo
UCL Geography
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Professor Alan Latham
UCL Geography
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Dr Catalina Ortiz
The Bartlett Development Planning Unit
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Dr Kayvan Karimi
The Bartlett School of Architecture | Space Syntax Laboratory
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Dr Roberto Botazzi
The Bartlett School of Architecture
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Dr Duncan Smith
The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
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Professor Ben Campkin
The Bartlett School of Architecture | UCL Urban Laboratory
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Professor Jane Rendell
The Bartlett School of Architecture
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Professor Cecilia Vindrola  
UCL Research Department of Targeted Intervention
View Cecilia's profile


More information

  • For key information on how to apply to the Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes, visit the UCL graduate prospectus.
  • Can't find what you're looking for? Contact the Interdisciplinary Urban Design MRes course team via email:
urbanism