The postgraduate programme in Urban Strategies and Design is delivered jointly by the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) of the University of Edinburgh and the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design at Heriot-Watt University.
This new programme addresses the current need for interdisciplinary knowledge. It encourages the adoption of a comprehensive approach towards the delivery of socially-sustainable urban transformation, from local-specific to strategic metropolitan and regional interventions. Students study the wide and diverse range of social, economic, and political processes that determine the contemporary urban environment, and acquire the tools and skills to propose urban projects of diverse scales and specificities.
The City of Edinburgh offers an urban laboratory for project- and site visit-based exploration of current urban design issues in the UK. Furthermore, the city’s historic ‘Geddesian’ planning links, and contemporary international links with urban-focused institutions and bodies provide a strong platform from which to support student-led, location-based research projects.
The Urban Strategies and Design programme can be studied full-time or part-time. The full-time mode consists of a 12-month programme, comprising two taught semesters, and a summer supervised dissertation period. The part-time mode comprises, four taught semesters, undertaken over 24 months, with a summer supervised dissertation period taking place after the fourth taught semester.
The Royal Academy of Engineering Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design has excellent industry links. Staff within the Institute are actively engaged in a variety of research projects relating to building design, specification, management and operation.
Course contentDetailed course guide
Students will study the courses below. MSc students will complete a Masters dissertation in semester 3.
|Semester 1||Semester 2|
Please find below the Heriot-Watt course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the Programme Leader.
Sustainable Design and Development
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to help students develop a critical understanding of the complexity of urban and housing design and development, including the importance of people and process. The course will help students gain professional knowledge about urban design principles and practice, including sustainability issues. Subjects in the syllabus include:
Introduction to urban design and housing quality; Critical understanding of the development process including stages in the development process and appreciation of different stakeholder perspectives; Sustainable design, housing quality, place identity and character; Climate, aspect, safety, planting, management; Conservation areas and listed buildings; Market and needs analysis; Developer’s budget, cashflow and financial appraisal; Risk analysis.
Urban Design Theory
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the complexity of urban design principles and processes based on a general awareness of the range of theories which support the discipline of urban design.
The course is based on student reading and presentation of key texts on urban design covering socio-economic perspectives, ecological perspectives, spatial perspectives and imagery. This is complemented by exercises which allow students to develop a more detailed understanding of urban spatial structure and perception of urban space. Through these exercises students will explore the elements which make up the urban structure, and typologies of built form and open space; as well as ideas used in environmental perception including cognition, phenomenology, and spatial analysis techniques such as space syntax.
Urban Strategies and Design Case Studies
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to familiarize students with recent medium and large scale urban design projects in different geographic contexts and to evaluate the process and product from the perspective of the designer, developer, statutory authority and local community. The course uses the city of Edinburgh to examine a range of themes relevant to urban design practice through the study of medium and large scale urban developments. The themes that will be explored through these case studies include:
Strategic planning & urban design; Green space & open space; Transport; Planning law; Urban design policy & guidance; Public involvement; Strategies for specific urban fabrics such as waterfronts, Urban edge, etc.
Urban Design for Health and Wellbeing
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the range of social, economic and environmental issues that need to be considered by urban design in order to provide the basis for health and wellbeing. The course addresses issues which build an understanding of what constitutes health in urban environments and what urban design processes and approaches contribute to providing the conditions for health and wellbeing. It covers a range of issues related to socio-economic, community, psychological and physical health.
A series of two-week long sessions presenting key fundamental principles and examples of these issues, delivered by experts in each field illustrated with examples, will cover the following themes from the perspective of urban design:
Further details on this programme are available from ESALA.
First Class, or Second Class Upper Degree from Undergraduate Course of Study.
We require with the application, a short, (two-page maximum) statement explaining what specific interests in the area of Urban Issues have lead you to apply for this programme.
Get more information on entry requirements..
Recognition of Prior Learning
Heriot-Watt University is committed to providing opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Prior learning at postgraduate level is normally recognised to gain exemption from individual courses within a programme based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the courses for which RPL is sought, yet credits from an award already held by an applicant can only contribute to a higher award in the same discipline, e.g. from PG Diploma to MSc. If you believe that you qualify for RPL, please contact the Learning & Teaching Support Team via email@example.com, who will guide you through the RPL application procedure.
The school will only consider students' requests for RPL at the time of application for their programme of study.
English language requirements
If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above.
Applicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.
We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:
- 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
- 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
- 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)
Fees & funding
Fees for this course can be found on the tuition fees page.
Scholarships & bursaries
We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.
View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarships.