Architecture and Urbanism - MA

Add to my prospectus Why study this course? More about this course Entry requirements Modular structure What our students say After the course How to apply Meet the team Visit us

Why study this course?

Associated with the research group Cass Cities, this Architecture and Urbanism MA (previously titled: Spatial Planning and Urban Design MA) puts you amongst the city-focused researchers of The Cass. Architecture, urban design and planning is explored while you're introduced to a live site in London; at the forefront of urban change. Resources and connections across the city are here to help support you throughout your studies. In the most recent Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, 100% of all 2017 graduates from this course were in work or further study within six months.

More about this course

Architecture and Urbanism MA is associated with Cass Cities, a group of doers, thinkers and researchers at The Cass led by Professor Mark Brearley.

The course combines the disciplines of architecture, urban design, and planning to help you become effective in all aspects of urban understanding. We'll encourage you to become an architect and architectural designer who understands how to intervene strategically in city-level architecture and planning.

Cass Cities engages in urban research and proposition. Urban change happens when people with ideas, knowledge and experience work in creative ways to transform cities. This happens through designing buildings, engaging with local communities, developing masterplans, re-thinking public transport networks and informing policy change.

We'll nurture your ability to form architectural propositions and develop a strong spatial judgement, but we'll also emphasise that there is much more to city processes than building design.

You'll work in the Cass Cities Unit alongside postgraduate architects, and every year we choose live and significant sites which are at the forefront of urban change, with a strong focus on London. There will be work on these live projects as well as the attendance of meetings on relevant topics and access to influential decision-makers in London. These resources and connections will help you direct your work in professional, practical and influential ways.

The projects produced in the unit are concerned with the shaping of both buildings and places. You'll participate in contemporary debates in all forms as a proposer, responder and observer.

Get a taste of things to come by watching Professor Mark Brearley talk about the MA.

The course can lead to a further MA by Project or PhD research opportunities.


Assessment is through a range of methods, including written coursework submissions and design portfolio presentation.

Fees and key information

Course type Postgraduate
Entry requirements View
Apply now

Entry requirements

You will be required to:

  • have a minimum upper second class honours degree in architecture, spatial planning or landscape architecture (other relevant professional qualifications or extensive professional experience will also be considered)

demonstrate your design talent through the presentation of a portfolio
All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Modular structure

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2018/19 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • summer studies

    This module is the culmination of the Master’s programme. It allows the student to articulate an extended field of self-directed design research into an ambitious and rigorous proposition. The academically conceptualised module offers Master’s students the opportunity to develop a design thesis: a theoretically framed and argued proposition developed through design project work, the designate modules and personal investigation. This thesis might, for example, clarify aspects of the wider context of the field of investigation, or it might further investigate a particular area of interest. It could take the form of an illustrated written document or an extended design or urban analysis project, suitably documented. The aim is to enable students to position themselves, intellectually and creatively, within contemporary discourse on the design of architecture and interiors and/or the production and analysis of the city, in relation to the agenda of design research.

    Bridging the subject areas of architecture, interior design and urbanism, the thesis is not defined by the limits of professional practice. It may, for example, fruitfully explore the boundaries of a subject area and its cross-fertilisation with other disciplines; it may focus on more traditional but still pertinent ground, or it may investigate the implications of new cultural, technological, or public policy considerations. Whilst it is expected that the dissertation will explore the context of the chosen field of research and investigate relevant precedents, the thesis should in itself be propositional.

    The module is largely self-directed but will typically be developed from the work previously undertaken within design units, from knowledge gained through attendance at seminars (convened during term time) and the production and discussion of a thesis abstract or (as required within an associated module component: AR7009 or AR7016). At the commencement of the Summer Study Period the student is required to present a thesis outline (extending the abstract submitted at the end of Semester 1) which establishes a plan for the final document.

    Read full details.
  • This module provides an overview of development economics, and an analysis of historic and contemporary policies and practices, involved in the economics of delivering sustainable urban change.

    This module aims to:

    • provide students with an understanding of development economics within planning practice in the UK, with specialist knowledge of urban contexts and comparisons with international case studies;
    • critically assess a range of elements, involved in creating economically sustainable plans and places;
    • inform students on the choice of appropriate specialisms.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday

    This module provides an overview of the history of planning and urban theory, and an understanding of the current planning system and planning policies in the UK.

    This module aims to:

    • provide students with an overview of the historic and contemporary role of planning and urban theory;
    • understand and critically assess a range of elements within historic and contemporary UK planning system and policies;
    • act as an introduction to the course and inform students on the choice of appropriate specialisms.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon

    In this module students engage in two components: urban research for spatial planning, and design practice. The research component of the module includes a generic element, ensuring that students understand the research and analysis is required to provide an evidence base for spatial planning decisions, and an element specific to their specialism, strategy or urban design. Students produce a project-based portfolio of an aspect of architecture and urban design underpinned by an appropriate research-led evidence base. It is the MA Architecture and Urbanism core studio module in which students experience the research and design process, and how it relates to the decision-making they observe in planning, urban scale design problems and urban scale thinking in the related module AR7010 Urban Practice.

    Module aims component 1: Research for Spatial Planning

    The aim of the research component of the module is to provide students with knowledge of the variety of research conducted in the field and the skills required to conduct quantitative, qualitative and other research methods including action research and design research, to provide the base for developing spatial planning policies. This also includes sourcing, understanding and using other data and information:

    • to understand why spatial planning, spatial, house and economic strategy, and urban design may require an evidence base as well as other forms of research to underpin policy development;
    • to provide students with the knowledge to determine the range of information and interpretation required for projects and plans;
    • to enable students to either commission or conduct research;
    • to enable students to critically assess and speculate upon the validity and reliability of research and analysis conducted by others;

    Module aims component 2: Urban Design

    • to provide students with an understanding of urban design;
    • to critically assess a range of elements and design methods of urban design;
    • to equip students with a range of drawn/graphic techniques of communication appropriate for working in urban design contexts;
    • to enable students to prepare an urban design portfolio on an aspect of urban design or in relation to a specific urban design project or proposal.

    Read full details.
  • In this module, students learn about urban research, design, development, delivery and maintenance practices of urban practitioners (e.g. urban designers, planners, architects, community groups/activists), through examination of urban-scale policy, projects and practices, and of sustainable, successful and vibrant places. Here, students gain an overview of the social, environmental, physical, economic, governance, and political dimensions of place, as well as an introduction to the range of stakeholders and communities involved in sustainable planning and urban practice, specialising in UK urban context(s), with comparisons to international examples. It is an MA Architecture and Urbanism core module, which runs year-long in parallel with AR7009 Urban Design and Spatial Planning, in which students develop their own research and design projects. This module complements the design process by exposing real-world constraints and opportunities through examination of practice.

    The module has two components. The first component is Planning and Urban Practice, which provides a detailed analysis of planning practice in the UK, specialising in urban contexts and with comparisons made to international examples. The second component, Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place provides an overview of the social, environmental, physical, economic and political dimensions of planning sustainable communities. It assesses this alongside the role of communities and those in governance in planning, delivering and maintaining sustainable, successful and vibrant places:

    Module aims component 1: Planning and Urban Practice

    • provide students with an understanding of planning practice at a UK national, regional and local level, with specialist knowledge of urban contexts and comparisons with international case studies;
    • critically assess a range of elements within planning practice in the UK and experiences from other contexts;
    • act as an introduction to the course and inform students on the choice of appropriate specialisms;

    Module aims component 2: Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place

    • provide students with an understanding of planning and maintaining sustainable communities;
    • critically assess the role and tools of those involved in planning, delivering and maintaining sustainable places.

    Read full details.

Modules for this course are to be confirmed. Please check back at a later date or call our course enquiries team on +44 (0)20 7133 4200 for details.

What our students say

"This course has allowed me to speculate on the larger issues that have huge affects on our built environment. It works on many different levels–zooming out to a global scale and then in on the details that surround our daily lives. Rather than concentrating our efforts into a single edifice, we are asked to question the space between what exists, propose how this could be improved or simply recognised, and provide ways new developments can fit into and connect with these existing matrices."

"This course opens your eyes to the whole world of decision making which happens before architecture and has a much wider scope to influence people and their way of life than a single building."

After the course

The course is designed for practicing planners and architects wishing to specialise in urban design, as well as urban design practitioners who require knowledge of spatial planning. It is also suitable for graduates with relevant degrees who wish to obtain a postgraduate qualification in planning or urban design. Graduates of this course have gone on to become urban designers and freelance consultants.

If you are a student who has already obtained a relevant London Met first degree, especially in architecture, and wish to progress into the above professions, then we recommend you consider this MA course. Even if you come from a background that doesn't generally progress into spatial planning or urban design positions, this course will be of advantage to you in your career.

Additional costs

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

How to apply

Use the apply button to begin your application.

Any questions?

You can contact the Head of Cass Cities Mark Brearley with any questions about the course content and experience. Our Course Enquiries team can assist with queries about the application process.

When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

Get to know your studios

News and success stories

Meet the team

Visit us

You may also like...