Postgraduate study

Urban Strategies & Design

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Urban Strategies & Design

Jointly delivered by ESALA and the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot-Watt University, this programme builds upon the expertise and knowledge developed in both institutions.

It employs current researchers with international research experience, links and interests, who deploy contemporary pedagogies in the programme’s delivery.

The programme encourages the adoption of a comprehensive approach towards the delivery of socially sustainable urban transformation, from local-specific to global-regional interventions. You will study the wide and diverse range of social, economic and political processes that determine the contemporary urban environment. You will also acquire the tools and skills to propose urban projects of diverse scales and specificities.

The programme is specifically focused on studying how urban design approaches respond to contemporary urban transformations, as often characterised by forms of urban restructuring in the global north, and rapid urban expansion in the global south.

The city of Edinburgh offers an urban laboratory for exploration of current urban design issues. The city’s historic ‘Geddesian’ planning links, and contemporary international links with urban-focused institutions and bodies, particularly in the global south, provide a good platform from which to support student-led, location-based dissertations.

The programme seeks to address the gap between architecturally driven urban design and higher-level, spatial planning-driven, urban design, bringing together a range of approaches relevant to urban design that are currently being developed within different professional and disciplinary practices, ranging from engineering to human geography.

You will study four compulsory courses at Heriot-Watt University, study one compulsory course and one option course at the University of Edinburgh and then complete your dissertation – the development of an urban project proposal. You may choose either African Cities or Latin American Cities, or from a wide range of other option courses.

Career opportunities at local, national and international levels can be pursued in architecture, planning, landscape architecture, the voluntary urban aid sector, geography, or urban development. There is also the opportunity for further academic research to doctoral level.

We’re considering offering the MSc Urban Strategies & Design in a 2-year mixed-mode format, which would include distance learning with short trips to our campus in Edinburgh. We'd like to hear your views on this new study format. Our survey will only take about 2 minutes to complete.

First class or 2:1 undergraduate degree.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

If you completed a CAE or CPE before January 2015 please contact the Admissions Office for the accepted grades.

Find out more about our language requirements:

For detailed information on fee status, policies and payment see:

Additional programme costs (APCs) are used by programmes in Edinburgh College of Art to cover associated costs such as: basic consumables; equipment purchase, hire and maintenance; computing hardware and software; field trip and excursion expenses; and programme specific events. More detail will be available in programme handbooks.

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 4086
  • Email: hsspg@ed.ac.uk
  • Programme Director, Dr Ola Uduku
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5786
  • Email: o.uduku@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Humanities and Social Science Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

In addition to the supporting documents requested in your online application, we require a short statement (300-400 words) that addresses the following questions:

  • The urban condition: why and how are you interested in it? Please explain your specific interests within this broad field.
  • How do you imagine the programme will support your future ambitions in career and life?
  • What issue or area of the advertised Urban Strategies and Design MSc description made you decide to apply for the programme?

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 4086
  • Email: hsspg@ed.ac.uk
  • Programme Director, Dr Ola Uduku
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5786
  • Email: o.uduku@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Humanities and Social Science Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX