Postgraduate study

Urban Strategies & Design

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Urban Strategies & Design

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

The MSc in Urban Strategies & Design is taught by academic researchers with international research experience, links and interests, in a range of urban areas. This wealth of knowledge and the use of contemporary pedagogies is integrated into 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 influence the development of the contemporary urban environment. The course also seeks to enable you to acquire the tools and skills to propose urban projects of diverse scales and specificities.

Students on the programme come from a range of multidisciplinary backgrounds and work collaboratively to understand how urban design approaches respond to contemporary urban transformations. This analysis is framed not only from a Western perspective but acknowledges that urban transformations in the urban north are increasing interlinked with activities in the urban south. Course pedagogy involves traditional lectures, seminars, excursions and other relevant group activities.

The city of Edinburgh offers a unique laboratory for exploration of current urban design issues. The city’s renaissance to ‘Geddesian’ planning history, and more contemporary international planning pedagogy and consultancy links to urban institutions and bodies, particularly in the global south, provides 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 in semester one, then study one compulsory course and one option course at the University of Edinburgh in semester two.

Should you wish to write an Africa or Latin America focused dissertation, you will choose African Cities or Latin American Cities options within the USD programme. Otherwise you can select any option course being offered at Edinburgh University which fits with your second semester timetable.

Once all coursework is completed, you will go on to write your USD dissertation, over a ten-week period, on an urban theme topic of your choice. Defined dissertation support will be provided, and submission formats discussed.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScUrban Strategies and Design1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MScUrban Strategies and Design2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

An MSc in Urban Strategies & Design enables you consider career opportunities from local to international contexts in a range of disciplines: architecture, planning, landscape architecture, urban planning strategies and development planning. These career opportunities exist in the formal, (public and private) voluntary, and international development sector. There are also opportunities to proceed to further academic research at masters or 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.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

We don't require an architecture or urban design qualification, but expect you to demonstrate a broad interest in issues of urban design strategy planning and its relationship to issues at local, national and global level.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module and 6.5 in writing)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module and 23 in writing)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections but 61 in Writing)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 175 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Programme Director, Dr Soledad Garcia-Ferrari
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5787
  • Email:
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences 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, you should submit 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

  • Programme Director, Dr Soledad Garcia-Ferrari
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5787
  • Email:
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX