Architecture, Cities and Urbanism - MA

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Why study this course?

Urban design is a growing profession. Join a course that has led to careers in local government, planning, development and regeneration, and expand your career prospects across architecture, design and research.

Our Architecture, Cities and Urbanism MA focuses on problem-based learning in urban contexts. During the course you will work to define urban, social, economic and policy problems. Spatial design will help you both as a research tool to explore possible solutions, and as a container to situate and analyse other types of research knowledge.

More about this course

Whilst based at our School of Art, Architecture and Design, teaching for this master’s degree is flexible and responsive, taking place in studios, seminars, workshops, presentations, at exhibitions, on walks and through social media and other online communication tools. This range of teaching methods allows tutors to adapt as your needs change throughout the course.

Over the academic year you’ll witness your work evolve and develop as you complete your portfolio-based assessments. Thanks to our atelier system of studios and units, you’ll study alongside architecture students, with a choice of postgraduate units to study in.

The lecturers are contemporary urban practitioners and researchers, and numerous guests and commentators are also invited to participate. As a result you’ll begin to build a network of relevant contacts, all the while keeping up with the latest developments in urban design and planning.

You’ll learn how to use the tools of urban design and urban research with a promotional approach, as a prompt for policy change and as a form of activism, which in turn will help you to effect real change in the specialism you later pursue.

Courses in architecture at London Met have gained a significant reputation for demonstrating a broad expertise in urban matters, as well as in the detail of architecture. Our research group behind this degree, undertakes extensive research activity that will support your study experience.


You will be assessed through a range of coursework, which is split across the following:

  • portfolios
  • reports
  • case studies
  • exhibitions
  • presentations
  • written work (both academic and informal, in order to reflect the skillset required in the professional and activist world of urban change and spatial planning)

Fees and key information

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Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • a minimum of a lower second-class (2.2) honours degree in architecture, spatial planning, landscape architecture or a related design subject
  • Mathematics GCSE at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent)
  • a design portfolio for presentation
  • a personal statement articulating academic and professional interests and ambition

If you don’t have the qualifications above but do have a portfolio of substantial relevant experience in the field of architecture, urban design, interior design or a similar discourse you will be asked to attend an interview to demonstrate your competency for this course. To find out what to include in your portfolio, view our portfolio guidance.

To study a degree at London Met, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. If you require a Tier 4 student visa you may need to provide the results of a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

If you need (or wish) to improve your English before starting your degree, the University offers a Pre-sessional Academic English course to help you build your confidence and reach the level of English you require.

Modular structure

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2020/21 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Where this course can take you

The course would suit you if you are:

  • a practising planner, architect or other design professional wishing to specialise in urban design
  • an urban design practitioner who requires knowledge of spatial planning
  • a graduate with a relevant degree, wishing to obtain a postgraduate qualification in planning and urban design
  • a student with a relevant London Metropolitan University undergraduate degree, especially an architecture degree, who wishes to progress into one of the above professions
  • a MArch student hoping to gain a planning qualification in addition to RIBA Part 2

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.

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How to apply

Use the apply button to begin your application.

If you require a Student visa and wish to study a postgraduate course on a part-time basis, please read our how to apply information for international students to ensure you have all the details you need 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.

To find out when teaching for this degree will begin, as well as welcome week and any induction activities, view our academic term dates.

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