Course specification and structure
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PMSPLNUD - MA Spatial Planning and Urban Design

Course Specification


Validation status Validated
Highest award Master of Arts Level Masters
Possible interim awards Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Advanced Diploma in Professional Development
Total credits for course 180
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Subject Area Architecture
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 1 YEARS  
Part-time 2 YEARS  
Course leader Jane Clossick

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

The distinctive feature of this course is the combination of two disciplines; spatial planning and urban design. The course provides the fundamental knowledge and technical skills for both disciplines and will focus on the interaction between the two as indicated below:

• Intensive introduction to principles of spatial planning and urban design
• Understanding of current policies and the opportunities to test these from different perspectives
• Opportunity to critique policy and practice theoretically and creatively
• Discursive agenda
• Operating within an Academic School and Faculty that have strong national and international reputation.
• Providing a vibrant and critical environment in which to establish substantive knowledge in the field, whilst exploring new strategic and design ideas
• Live projects

Course aims

The course aims to:

• Provide a substantial knowledge of current, local and international spatial planning and urban design policies and practices.

• Question these processes and policies, in order to test and develop new and innovative approaches, to complex urban contexts through design.

• Establish the ground to synthesise and critique these parallel components, in a manner that will allow the student to continue to develop their interests in professional practice, or through further academic research.

• Work in collaboration with local, regional and international agencies on live projects.

• Enable students from architecture and design disciplines, to develop skills and employ their knowledge in developing complex socially, environmentally and economically sustainable urban and planning strategies.

• Use spatial planning and design thinking as a critical, interrogative process, through which to explore the broader parameters of research, within a particular situation or environment.

Course learning outcomes

Whilst the course is not currently seeking approval from the Royal Town Planning Institute, it will typically equip the students with knowledge and understanding of the indicative learning outcomes as currently set out in Section 6.8 of the RTPI Policy Statement on Initial Planning Education [2012]
11a Knowledge and Understanding
By the end of the course, the student is expected to:
1. Explain and demonstrate how spatial planning operates within the context of institutional and legal frameworks.
2. Reflect upon the arguments for and against spatial planning and particular theoretical approaches, and assess what can be learnt from experience of spatial planning and urban design, in different contexts and spatial scales.
3. Demonstrate how efficient resource management helps to deliver effective spatial planning.
4. Explain the political and ethical nature of spatial planning and reflect on how planners work effectively within democratic decision-making structures.
5. Explain the contribution that planning can make to the built and natural environment and, in particular, recognise the implications of climate change.
6. Explain the principles of equality and equality of opportunity, in relation to spatial planning, in order to positively promote the involvement of different communities, and evaluate the importance and effectiveness of community engagement in the planning process.
7. Understand how research might inform urban design and obversely, how the process of designing might be understood as part of a research process.

11b Cognitive Skills / Intellectual Skills
By the end of the course, the student is expected to:

1. Generate integrated and well substantiated responses to urban design and spatial planning challenges.

2. Debate the concept of rights and the legal and practical implications of representing these rights, in planning decision making processes.

3. Develop and evaluate the principles and processes of design, for creating high quality places and enhancing the public realm for the benefit of all in society.

4. Devise effective research, analytical, evaluative and appraisal skills and the ability to reach
appropriate, evidence based decisions, as well as developing more speculative scenario based
design research.

5. Distinguish the characteristics of a professional, including the importance of upholding the highest standards of ethical behaviour and a commitment to lifelong learning and critical reflection, so as to maintain and develop professional competence.

6. Construct effective design processes, which can rigorously test ideas and information in terms of their relevance to a given area of study or situation, resulting in a clear and well-founded conceptual framework for urban design.

7. Develop and evaluate appropriate and relevant methods of interpreting, engaging, integrating and otherwise, using design research material, in order to establish design parameters, which can intervene in, adapt to and potentially transform particular situations and processes.

8. Effectively communicate the ideas, intentions and resolution of a design proposal, in its own terms. Demonstrating an understanding of its development in relation to the accompanying research and the wider body of knowledge encompassed by the specialism; alongside an awareness of how this might be adjusted or transformed by wider social, political, economic, physical and technological contexts.
11c Practical Skills
By the end of the course, the student is expected to:
1. Evaluate different development strategies and the practical application of development finance; assess the implications for generating added value for the community.
2. Produce a coherent, articulate, well-presented and holistic thesis, which effectively illustrates and establishes the student’s position, aims, results and conclusions.
3. Recognise the role of communication skills in the planning process and the importance of working in an interdisciplinary context, and be able to demonstrate negotiation, mediation, advocacy and leadership skills.
4. Demonstrate an ability to evaluate and apply a comprehensive range of visual, oral and written media to test, analyse, critically appraise and explain design proposals.

11d Key / Transferable Skills
By the end of the course, the student is expected to:

1. Communicate effectively in writing and representational drawn techniques, and in oral presentation of complex design concepts and propositions.

2. Apply research and design skills appropriately and be able to transfer techniques from one field of spatial planning and urban design to another.

3. Work as a member of a team.

4. Manage time and resources.

5. Learn independently, with open mindedness and in the spirit of critical enquiry.

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Knowledge & Understanding

11a1 Explain and demonstrate how spatial planning operates within the context of institutional and legal frameworks:

AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place
AR7069 Planning & Urban Practice
AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design

11a2 Reflect upon the arguments for and against spatial planning and particular theoretical approaches, and assess what can be learnt from experience of spatial planning and urban design in different contexts and spatial scales:

AR7070 Planning & Urban Theory
AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design

11a3 Demonstrate how efficient resource management helps to deliver effective spatial planning:

AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place
AR7071 Economics of Place

11a4 Explain the political and ethical nature of spatial planning and reflect on how planners work effectively within democratic decision-making structures:

AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place
AR7069 Planning & Urban Practice
AR7071 Economics of Place

11a5 Distinguish the characteristics of a professional, including the importance of upholding the highest standards of ethical behaviour and a commitment to lifelong learning and critical reflection so as to maintain and develop professional competence. AR7069 Planning & Urban Practice:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11a6 Explain the principles of equality and equality of opportunity in relation to spatial planning in order to positively promote the involvement of different communities, and evaluate the importance and effectiveness of community engagement in the planning process:

AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place
AR7069 Planning & Urban Practice
AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design

11a7 Understand how research might inform urban design and obversely, how the process of designing might be understood as part of a research process AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design:

AR7052 Urban Design

Cognitive Skills / Intellectual Skills

11b1 Generate integrated and well substantiated responses to urban design and spatial planning challenges:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design

11b2 Debate the concept of rights and the legal and practical implications of representing these rights in planning decision making process:

AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place

11b3 Develop and evaluate the principles and processes of design for creating high quality places and enhancing the public realm for the benefit of all in society:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11b4 Devise effective research, analytical, evaluative and appraisal skills and the ability to reach appropriate, evidence based decisions as well as developing more speculative scenario based
design research:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11b5 Distinguish the characteristics of a professional, including the importance of upholding the highest standards of ethical behaviour and a commitment to lifelong learning and critical reflection so as to maintain and develop professional competence:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11b6 Construct effective design processes, which can rigorously test ideas and information in terms of their relevance to a given area of study or situation, resulting in a clear and well-founded conceptual framework for urban design:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11b7 Develop and evaluate appropriate and relevant methods of interpreting, engaging, integrating and otherwise using design research material in order to establish design parameters which can intervene in, adapt to and potentially transform particular situations and processes:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11b8 Effectively communicate the ideas, intentions and resolution of a design proposal, in its own terms. Demonstrating an understanding of its development in relation to the accompanying research and the wider body of knowledge encompassed by the specialism; alongside an awareness of how this might be adjusted or transformed by wider social, political, economic, physical and technological contexts:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

Practical Skills

11c1 Evaluate different development strategies and the practical application of development finance; assess the implications for generating added value for the community:

AR7071 Economics of Place
AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place
AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design

11c2 Produce a coherent, articulate, well-presented and holistic thesis, which effectively illustrates and establishes the student’s position, aims, results and conclusions:

AR7P18 Design Thesis

11c3 Recognise the role of communication skills in the planning process and the importance of working in an interdisciplinary context, and be able to demonstrate negotiation, mediation, advocacy and leadership skills:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11c4 Demonstrate an ability to evaluate and apply a comprehensive range of visual, oral and written media to test, analyse, critically appraise and explain design proposals:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

Key / Transferable Skills

11d1 Communicate effectively in writing and representational drawn techniques and in oral presentation of complex design concepts and propositions:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design

11d2 Apply research and design skills appropriately and be able to transfer techniques from one field of spatial planning and urban design to another:

AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design
AR7052 Urban Design
AR7P18 Design Thesis

11d3 Work as a member of a team:

AR7070 Planning & Urban Theory
AR7069 Planning & Urban Practice
AR7071 Economics of Place
AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place
AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning & Urban Design

11d3 Manage time and resources:

All modules

11d5 Learn independently, with open mindedness and in the spirit of critical enquiry:

AR7P18 Design Thesis

Principle QAA benchmark statements

QAA Masters Degree Characteristics

Assessment strategy

Assessment is based on individual project/ portfolio development, written submissions, individual and group presentations and a culminating project/ thesis. Students are required to submit a portfolio of their relevant practical work together with all supporting material. Assessment includes a combination of diagnostic, formative and summative methods.

Students are expected to participate reflectively in assessment. Self-evaluation involves students in reflection on their own progress, in relation to the learning outcomes and mirrors the assessment process conducted by the course team, providing the basis for discussion at assessment feedback sessions, after formal coursework assessment has taken place.

Formative assessment is built into all modules and is designed to provide students with feedback on progress and development. Students are expected to maintain appropriate records of their work, as it develops within each module and to take part in regular critiques and discussions, regarding their own and others’ coursework. The course requires students to give a formal presentation to their tutors and peers on their practice. These sessions support students to develop their critical engagement and self-confidence and enable them to manage their aspirations and ambitions. Modules with written assignments will normally require students to hand in a draft for formative feedback, before the final deadline submission.

Summative assessment involves a formal presentation of work produced and considers the measure of achievement in relation to module learning outcomes.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

Work based learning is embedded within the course, through engagement in live projects, debates and exhibitions, where students are required to take on organisational and entrepreneurial activities, to support the marketing and presentation of their own practice or a collaborative venture.

Course specific regulations

Students from the Professional Diploma in Architecture (Part 2) who have taken the MA Spatial Planning Taught Modules as part of their Professional Diploma qualification, may progress to take the MA Thesis Module, but only after they have completed and awarded the Professional Diploma in Architecture (Part 2).

Students may exceptionally be allowed to extend /defer the submission of the Thesis module to the Autumn semester assessment point, with the agreement of the Course Leader and the Head of School.

Modules required for interim awards

Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)

Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits)

Career opportunities

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 does generally do not progress into spatial planning or urban design positions, this course will be of advantage to you in your career.

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.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2013/14 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 01 Sep 2013 Last validation date 03 Sep 2013  
Sources of funding HE FUNDING COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND
JACS codes K421 (Urban Planning): 100%
Route code SPLNUD

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 07 September start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
AR7052 Urban Design Core 20        
AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning and Specialism Core 20        
AR7069 Planning and Urban Practice Core 20        
AR7070 Planning and Urban Theory Core 20        
AR7071 Economics of Place Core 20        
AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place Core 20        
AR7P18 Design Thesis Core 60        

Stage 1 Level 07 January start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
AR7052 Urban Design Core 20        
AR7053 Research for Spatial Planning and Specialism Core 20        
AR7069 Planning and Urban Practice Core 20        
AR7070 Planning and Urban Theory Core 20        
AR7071 Economics of Place Core 20        
AR7072 Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place Core 20        
AR7P18 Design Thesis Core 60