module specification

AR7010 - Urban Practice (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Urban Practice
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 40
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 400
319 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Integrated urban practice report: A report of student work addressing the tasks and criteria
Coursework 60%   Integrated urban practice report (length: 8-10,000 words including visual material): final submission.
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

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.


The module will provide a grounding in city planning and urban practice in the UK. It will cover current and historic ideas of sustainable places and communities, and the processes, policies and strategies that inform, establish and support their governance. It will explore present and past planning practice in the UK, with a focus on London.

Using one or more contemporary case studies and examples, in particular, sites of recent significant regeneration or proposed regeneration, the module will examine sustainable community models past and present, for example but not limited to new towns and eco towns, as well as extant vernacular places. The module will cover environmental, social, economic, historical and physical elements of sustainable places and explore the roles of planners, architects, urban designers, grassroots activists, local communities and local authorities. It will cover the role of the planning system, the impact of legislation and policy, and a range of other tools for provoking urban change and development. The module will review policies and strategies to understand how planning is delivered at a national, regional and local level, looking at planning policies and related legislation (including but not limited to NPPF, The London Plan, Local Plans, Localism legislation and Neighbourhood Plans) and how these impact on the case studies considered. These topics will be investigated in different contexts; London, the UK (nationally and regionally) and internationally. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4,LO5,LO6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and practice-focused learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able to engage and challenge the intellectual and professional environment of their discipline, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students will be able to: (LOs):

LOs component 1: Planning and Urban Practice

1. understand and articulate the effects, opportunities and constraints of planning, urban change and urban design in practice;
2. describe how planning, urban change and urban design are achieved in varying conditions;
3. critically evaluate different approaches to planning practice, urban change and urban design;

LOs component 2: Sustainable Communities and Governance of Place

4. demonstrate an understanding of the historic and current practice of planning sustainable communities;
5. describe how sustainable plans and places are achieved in different contexts;
6. critically evaluate different approaches to the governance of sustainable and vibrant places.


The following are indicative only.  Refereed journals/ articles and electronic resources issued according to syllabus:

Alexander, A. (2009) Britain's New Towns: Garden Cities to Sustainable Communities, Routledge
Bartetzky M. and Schalenberg. M. (2009) Urban Planning and the Pursuit of Happiness, Jovis Verlag
Cockburn, C. (1977) The Local State: Management of Cities and People, Pluto Press
Cockburn, C. (1997) The Local State, Pluto Press.
Colley, M. and Connell, R. (2009) Climate Change Adaption by Design, TCPA
Creese, W. (1992) The Search for Environment - the Garden City Before and After, John Hopkins
DfCLG (2012) National Planning Policy Framework, <>
Forshaw, J. & Abercrombie, P. (1943) County of London Plan, Macmillan GLA
Gilg, A. (2005) Planning in Britain, Sage, London,
GLA (2009-present), The London Plan, Greater London Authority
Headicar, P. (2009) Transport Policy and Planning in Great Britain, Routledge
Isocarp, A. (1992) Comparative Study of Urban Design in Selected Cities, The Hague
Knox, P. (2010) Cities and Design, Routledge
Layard A. Davoudi, S. and Batty, S. (2001) Planning for a Sustainable Future, Spon Press
Montgomery, C. (2013) Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, Penguin
Pinder, D. (2006) Visions of the City: Utopianism, Politics and Power in Twentieth Century Urbanism, Edinburgh University Press
Rogers, R. and Power, A. (2000) Cities for A Small Country, Faber & Faber
Rydin, Y. (2003) Urban and Environmental Planning in the UK, Macmillan
Rydin, Y. (2003) Urban and Environmental Planning in the UK, McMillan
Ng, E. (ed.) (2009) Designing High Density Cities for Social and Environmental Sustainability, Earthscan
Silberstein, J. and Maser, J. (2009) Land-Use Planning for Sustainable Development, CRC Press
Tibbalds, F. (2000) Making People Friendly Towns, Routledge
Viljoen, L. (2005) CPULs: Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes, Architectural Press
Wong, C. (2006) Indicators for Urban and Regional Planning, Routledge/RTPI