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International Urban Design MSc

Develop a global outlook and learn how to address the future challenges of urbanisation through city-scale design proposals and strategies.

Winner: Best University Careers and Employability Service
NUE Awards, 2021
Learn more


On this course you will gain an advanced design skillset that will enable you to create innovative solutions to the complex social, economic and environmental factors affecting cities. The course is designed to develop your spatial understanding of current theories and principles whilst challenging you to respond to the cultural issues, spatial traditions and histories of city form and design, and the global challenges in 21st century urbanisation.

We will teach and support you to take risks and creatively explore ideas to  tackle  complex problems and produce critical work.  The curriculum concludes with a ‘thesis’ module, a chance to use your conceptual understanding of design to transform urban contexts and independently plan tasks at a professional level.

You will learn to articulate, communicate and illustrate complex city analyses and proposals, underpinned by current practice, theories, and understanding of global urban issues. Graduates will be ideally placed for careers in city planning and architectural design offices, and urban and commercial development consultancy. Upon your graduation you will also be able to join the Urban Design Group as a member and as a recognised practitioner.

Key features

  • The  long-standing  Leicester School of Architecture is one of the  oldest schools in the UK. Our approach draws upon years of experience to challenge conventions and redefine the future of architectural practice.
  • Be supported to tackle real-world issues, while speculating and proposing new futures through bold experimentation.
  • Choose to undertake a year-long work placement, gaining valuable experience to enhance  and embed your practical and professional skills.
  • Learn from dedicated tutors from industry, practice and research, who ensure your work is responding to contemporary, real-world issues grounded in theory and practice.
  • Benefit from collaborative learning in studio groups within our supportive and interdisciplinary student community.
  • Our award-winning Vijay Patel building  has been designed to provide the space and facilities where  all of our art and design students can develop their ideas and flourish.



At DMU, we are committed to helping our graduates enhance their careers and personal development through further study.

Postgraduate Alumni Scholarship
Up to 30 per cent of tuition fees offered to DMU alumni who wish to continue their studies at DMU by enrolling on a Postgraduate taught course. For more information visit our Postgraduate Alumni Scholarship page.

Sports Scholarship
Apply for the DMU Sports Scholarship, worth up to £6,000.

More courses like this:

Architecture MArch
Architecture and Sustainability MSc
Architectural Design MA

  • UK
  • EU/International

Programme code: K19072

Duration: One year full-time

Start date: September 2021

Fees and funding: 

2021/22 tuition fees for UK students: £8,350 (full-time) per year

Find out more about course fees and available funding.

Additional costs: Here at DMU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Kimberlin Library and specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs for this programme.

Programme code: K19072

Duration: One year full-time

Start date: September 2021

Fees and funding: 

2021/22 tuition fees for EU and international students: £14,600

Find out more about course fees and available funding.

Additional costs: Here at DMU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Kimberlin Library and specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs for this programme.

Entry criteria

Typical entry requirements 

You should have the equivalent or above of a 2:2 UK bachelor’s honours degree in a relevant subject such as Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Town Planning, Geography, Urban Studies, Engineering Design, Three-Dimensional Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Product Design.

If you have no formal academic qualifications but have extensive industry experience, we will consider your application on an individual basis.


Interview and portfolio

Applicants with relevant qualifications should submit a portfolio of work (please see our International Urban Design application portfolio advice for full details). Non-standard applicants will be invited to attend an interview with a portfolio.

International students

If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.0 overall with 5.5 in each band, or equivalent when you start the course is essential. English Language tuition, delivered by our British Council-accredited Centre for English Language Learning, is available both before and throughout the course if you need it.

Structure and assessment


Course modules

Teaching and assessments



Term one

Introduction to Urban Design                                                                           

The module introduces the subject of urban design including key theories and concepts relative to urban design research and practice. The content is constructively aligned with an assignment that is based upon an urban design project.

Research Methods and Urban Design Theory

The module involves focussed study of classic urban design text(s). Study is led by small group seminars in which tutors facilitate informed debate and discussion based upon directed research. The seminars prepare students for a written assignment that requires critical analysis of a key text.

International Design Research Studio

The module offers students studio-based learning focussed upon a design ‘project’ or ‘challenge’. The ‘project’ will be devised in response to ‘live’ context in a UK city, and address issues that resonate with international, topical urban pressures and issues. The module content introduces techniques, methods and skills which are then revisited in the Semester 2 design studio module; it prepares the student for the Semester 2 design studio module.

Comprehensive Dissertation (note: this module runs in both term 1 and term 2)

The Dissertation allows students an opportunity to undertake a detailed investigation of a chosen architectural topic.

Term two

Urban Design Studio

The module introduces Urban Design as a set of practices drawn from the fields of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning. This is primarily a studio-based module. Studio exercises are constructed around case studies, models, and scenarios within which students develop both a technical proficiency with, and a conceptual understanding of, design as tool for transforming urban contexts.

(Optional: Year Industry Placement between term 2 and term 3)

Term three

Urban Design Thesis

This ‘Major Project’ Module offers opportunity for students to demonstrate clearly that they have exercised initiative, personal responsibility, complex decision making and have acted autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level. The module has two pathways: whilst both focus upon ‘design’, one offers opportunity to conclude your studies in an extensive written thesis, whilst the other offers opportunity to conclude your studies in a thesis comprising of drawn/ modelled/ illustrated outputs in combination with a shorter written text.

Note: All modules are subject to change in order to keep content current.


The mode of delivery considered appropriate in individual modules will vary, as will the assessment regime, so that both are carefully matched to the learning outcomes.  The course provides a learning environment that enables students to develop an integrative approach to their learning as the course develops. A primary learning environment is the architectural design studio, in which students will be supported by a design tutor, typically on a weekly basis whilst undertaking design and or strategy based assessments. Other teaching methods include lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, field visits, case studies, and directed reading. The academic team is committed to a rich range of teaching, learning and student support which is mainly project based giving you the opportunity to work as individuals and in groups.

Assessment and feedback is ongoing and is usually carried out during workshops and reviews. Assessment of the main projects takes place at the end of the term or the academic year and looks at your ability to analyse and implement your knowledge in the projects and will be measured against the learning outcomes of each module. 

Contact hours

In your first two terms you will normally attend around 8 hours of timetabled taught sessions including lectures, tutorials and workshop and studio sessions each week, and be expected to undertake at least 27 hours of independent study each week. Your third term will be pre-dominantly self-directed (including meetings with your supervisor), during which you can expect to undertake 35 hours of independent study each week.


Facilities and features

Art and design facilities

Our award-winning Vijay Patel building has been designed to provide the space and facilities where all of our art and design students can develop their ideas and flourish. 

The creative industries require imaginative graduates who can develop new ideas and products. Students use our sophisticated and contemporary workshops, labs and studios to experiment and test in the same way they will in industry, while the open and transparent spaces in the building encourage collaboration between disciplines. In doing so, the building prepares students for industry and helps develop them as future leaders in their respective fields. 

Take a look at our stunning showcase of the building at

More flexible ways to learn

We offer an equitable and inclusive approach to learning and teaching for all our students. Known as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), our teaching approach has been recognised as sector leading. UDL means we offer a wide variety of support, facilities and technology to all students, including those with disabilities and specific learning differences.

Just one of the ways we do this is by using ‘DMU Replay’ – a technology providing all students with anytime access to audio and/or visual material of lectures. This means students can revise taught material in a way that suits them best, whether it's replaying a recording of a class or adapting written material shared in class using specialist software.


Campus centre

The home of  De Montfort Students' Union, (DSU) our Campus Centre offers a welcoming and lively hub for student life. Conveniently located at the heart of campus, it includes a convenience store, a Subway and a Starbucks. Here you can find the DSU-owned charitable accommodation service Sulets and DSU’s shop, SUpplies, selling art supplies, stationery and clothing, and printing and binding services. The building is also home to the DSU officer team. 


Opportunities and careers

Winner: Best University Careers and Employability Service
NUE Awards, 2021
Learn more


During this course you will have the option to complete a placement year, an invaluable opportunity to put the skills developed during your degree into practice. This insight into the professional world will build on your knowledge in a real-world setting, preparing you to progress onto your chosen career. Placements will normally take place between semester two and three.

Our careers programme DMU Works can help to hone your professional skills with mock interviews and practice aptitude tests, and an assigned personal tutor will support you throughout your placement.


DMU Global

This is our innovative international experience programme which aims to enrich your studies and expand your cultural horizons – helping you to become a global graduate, equipped to meet the needs of employers across the world.

Through DMU Global, we offer a wide range of opportunities including on-campus and UK activities, overseas study, internships, faculty-led field trips and volunteering, as well as Erasmus+ and international exchanges.

While overseas DMU Global opportunities are not currently possible, DMU will continue to review government advice and if travel is permitted, we hope to offer a small number of extra-curricular opportunities in the summer of 2021. 



Graduate careers

The skills and capacity to address challenges of sustainable architecture and development are in high demand by city planning and architectural design offices and urban and commercial development consultancy. Our graduates have successfully joined international practices and government organisations. Graduates will also be able to join the Urban Design Group as a member and recognised practitioner. 

The sophisticated research skills you will develop on this course also provide excellent preparation to progress onto a PhD.  

DMU Open events

These events are a great way for you to find out more about postgraduate study at DMU.  

See when our upcoming events are taking place. 

Register now

Order a prospectus

Our prospectus will give you a clearer idea of what it's like to live and study at DMU and a snapshot of the courses we offer.

Order now

How to apply 

We welcome applications from students with a wide range of qualifications and experience.

Find out more

More about your DMU

Postgraduate events
Research at DMU
Leicester guide


Our dedicated Postgraduate Alumni Scholarship provides DMU graduates with a tuition fee discount of up to 30 per cent. The discount is available on selected full-time and part-time postgraduate taught courses running across multiple start dates in the 2021/22 academic session, with the first intake in September 2021.

The scholarship, based on academic achievement and merit, applies automatically to all DMU UK, EU and international students who are graduating in 2021.



The best way to find out more about DMU is to attend one of our postgraduate events. You can also check out our postgraduate live stream schedule for programme-specific talks to find out how our courses can enhance your knowledge and benefit your career path.

These events are a chance to learn more about our extensive careers and employability support, as well as fees and funding opportunities such as scholarships. They're also an opportunity to speak with current students and academics to really get a feel for studying your course. You can also take a tour of our beautiful campus and facilities from the comfort of home via our Virtual Open Day.



The Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities is home to research staff with international reputations in a wide range of creative and scholarly fields, blending traditional disciplines of critical enquiry and analysis with practice-based research and creative work employing cutting-edge technology. Find out more


Leicester guide

Studying here gives easy access to the vibrant hub of entertainment, shopping and culture that is Leicester. There are clubs, bars and pubs, as well as festivals, live music, theatres and cinemas. Leicester City Football Club play in the Premier League while Leicester Tigers are one of Europe’s biggest rugby clubs. Find out more.