Urban Strategies & Design - MSc


The contemporary urban environment is influenced by a wide and diverse range of social, economic and political processes.

Studying for an MSc in Urban Strategies and Design, you will engage with all these factors, enabling you to adopt a comprehensive approach towards the delivery of socially-sustainable urban transformation.

You will acquire the tools and skills to propose urban projects of diverse scales and specificities, from local to strategic metropolitan and regional.

Delivered collaboratively with the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University, the programme is focused on urban design responses to contemporary urban transformations, often characterised by forms of urban restructuring in the Global North, and rapid urban expansion in the Global South.

Why Edinburgh?

The City of Edinburgh offers an active urban laboratory for project-led and site visit-based exploration of current urban design issues in the North. The City's historic 'Geddesian' planning links, and contemporary international links with urban-focused institutions and bodies, particularly in the Global South, provide a strong platform from which to support student-led, location-based dissertations.

Through lectures, projects, fieldwork and research, the Urban Strategies and Design Programme involves both critical-analytical and projective components. This enables you to test the hypotheses of course-based research in the form of an urban project, which can be developed in a range of forms, depending on your interest and expertise. It could, for example, result in a design proposal addressing spatial organisation and urban morphology. Alternatively, it might lead to the development of urban design-related policies and guidance, or the proposal of institutional and governance arrangements for the development and implementation of an urban project.

Top five reasons to choose the programme

  • The Urban Strategies and Design MSc is open to graduates from a wide range of disciplines, including geography, sociology, architecture, landscape architecture, political science, anthropology, and economics, which ensures inter-disciplinarity in learning and team working.
  • You will benefit from Our Research Alliance with Heriot-Watt University, having access to the teaching, research and policy liaison expertise offered by two major institutions. Both are located in Edinburgh which, as a city, offers an excellent urban laboratory for project- and site visit-based exploration of current urban design issues in the North and a platform for engaging with stakeholders in the Global South.
  • The Programme prepares graduates for careers in urban design and development planning, NGO work and other planning and allied professions, that require planning analysis and strategy development skills at various levels.
  • The MSc degree offers a good foundation from which to develop research skills and interests in higher education through, for instance, doctoral study.
  • It offers you the opportunity to develop skills in selecting and using a range of urban design-related strategies and ‘tools’ including physical (spatial) design, policy-making, institutional design and establishment of monitoring frameworks, among others.

Proposed new study mode

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.


Dr Ola Uduku, Programme Director | View staff profile >

Dr Harry Smith, Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design | View staff profile >

Dr Tahl Kaminer, Lecturer in Architectural Design and Theory | View staff profile >

Dr Sarah Payne, Assistant Professor | View staff profile >

Dr Soldedad Garcia-Ferrari, Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design | View staff profile >

Colin Elliot, Assistant Professor | View staff profile >

Dr Penny Travlou, Lecturer in Architectural & Design Theory | View staff profile >

James Morgan, Assistant Professor | View staff profile >

This programme is also supported by a number of part time tutors and specialists who contribute to teaching throughout the academic session.


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Photo of a research team meeting
The activities have included a focus group, seminars, walks and discussions
Image courtesy of Medellín Urban Innovation (MUI)

Fieldwork marks the half-way point of two-year, British Council funded project.


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