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Urban Design

The Urban Design program at the University of Sydney recognises that urban designers operate at the nexus of aesthetic, economic, political and technical fields. Our program trains you in more than just the design, execution and management of building projects on an urban scale. We extend these core skills of urban design with a thorough understanding of the policy and economics that drive urban projects and inform your professional practice.

This program gives you the skills to work as an urban designer in national and international contexts. You will become adept at investigating a site, conducting spatial analysis and communicating in design contexts. Urban Morphology, ecology and the technical and cultural categorisation of city forms will infuse your understanding of urban design processes. You will apply these understandings across the entire scope of an urban designer’s responsibilities, communicating your ambitions, goals and solutions through physical and digital means, in sophisticated documentation and considered policy responses.

As an Urban Designer, you will be integral to navigating complex and impressive development projects. This program gives you the expertise to confidently produce design solutions that satisfy each of the dimensions of urban design. Your skills will be demanded by government planning agencies, development companies and in consultancy. You will gain the skills and understandings necessary to work alongside allied built environment professionals such as architects, consulting engineers and town planners. And you will do so in the full knowledge that you designs respond sensitively and intelligently to the needs of citizens, businesses and governments.

The Urban Design program at the University of Sydney is the only professional training program in Urban Design to offer you enriched specialisations. These specialisations give you additional training, expanding the scope of your employment opportunities. Check out more about our exclusive enrichment options in Architectural Design and Urban and Regional Planning .

Career Scope

Urban design abilities are needed at all levels of government (especially in local authorities and at state level), in private consulting firms and development organisations - where there are needs to prepare and evaluate urban design policies, strategies, frameworks, guidelines, concepts, master plans and programs, as well as carry out more detailed design of urban spaces. Urban design skills and knowledge also assist in designing for specific sites through a better understanding of context, are much needed in the field of development evaluation, and can enhance perspectives on urban conservation. There is also a small but growing demand for urban design educators and media commentators.

Graduates of the Master of Urban Design program at the University of Sydney occupy urban design positions in all of the above sectors (many of them at very senior levels) in cities and towns across Australia and elsewhere, especially in East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Europe.

ENRICHMENT

We offer you two enrichment options to enhance your employability. You can pursue professional training in Urban and Regional Planning and in Architectural Design. These enrichments allow you to study an additional 24 credit points, giving you an entirely additional specialisation in just six months (full time). Enrichments enable employers to determine your area of interest and specialisation and demonstrate your commitment to understanding allied professions. Both of the enrichments in the Urban Design program produce highly qualified graduates that are demanded by the realities of contemporary urban design practice.

ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN

The Architectural Design enrichment expands the core focus of your Urban Design program with additional training from the University’s prestigious Master of Architecture. You will work alongside students training to be architects, giving you unprecedented access to leading architecture academics in addition to our extensive network of Urban Designers. This collaboration ensures that you will gain the skills necessary to engage professionally with the integrated design process and gives you the skills to manage, understand and coordinate architectural teams. You will pursue this enrichment through a variety of options in architectural training, including access to the most immersive architectural studio program in New South Wales.

URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING

The Urban and Regional Planning enrichment gives you the skills and flexibility to work as an integrated design professional across the entire scope of planning and design projects. Professionals with this dual specialisation are highly demanded by government departments and development organisations both in Australia and internationally. Your enriched degree means employers will recognise you as a professional with a high level abilities in the aesthetic and social considerations of urban design, backed by accreditation from the Planning Institute of Australia.

GRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN URBAN DESIGN

Submissions from across the full spectrum of the community, local government and industry groups have called for a greater emphasis to be given to 'strategic' planning than to development assessment -getting it right up front rather than arguing over the details when the big mistakes may have been made or the greatest opportunities lost.

To address the skills and techniques required by local government planners and design practitioners to successfully implement these changes and address the issues facing the planning system in NSW, we have tailored a stream of study within a Graduate Certificate of Urban Design with three key unit components. Designed to expose policy makers to the complex considerations in Urban Design, students will work alongside Architects and Urban Designers and gain the skills required facilitate collaboration, communicate effectively in a Design environment and develop successful public engagement strategies.

Students entering the certificate level are not required to hold a design degree or submit a portfolio, but will not eligible to continue through to the Diploma or Masters of Urban Design. (unless requirements are met for these degrees).

Download the Graduate Certificate in Urban Design brochure for more information

Core

ARCH9100
Introduction to Urban Design
6
Feb/Jul
ARCH9080
Urban Ecology, Design and Planning
6
2a
This unit will introduce the conceptual bases for sustainable development and explore how principles of sustainability can be introduced into land use planning and urban design, including environmental management and multi-criteria evaluation methodologies in three modules:Module 1 will examine the evolution of urban areas in relation to their biophysical setting using the Sydney metropolitan area as a case study. This will lead to an understanding and appreciation of the urban ecology of the city in terms of the flows of materials, resources and energy, and the challenges presented by climate change and peak oil.Module 2 will introduce principles of sustainability and the history and development of concepts of urban sustainability.Module 3 will introduce methods and frameworks for evaluating and measuring sustainability.
ARCH9062
Urban Design - Ideas and Methods
6
1
The unit will familiarise students with the main ideas and methods that have influenced urban design practice from the late nineteenth century to the present. It covers the dominant urban design theories, principles, conceptual and physical models, analytical methods and drawings from key contributing authors over the period, and explores critically how and why these arose, their interrelationships, spheres of influence, and continuing validity. In exploring their origins, it necessarily refers back to earlier periods. In this unit, the urban design 'classics' (eg Sitte, Le Corbusier, Lynch, Hillier, etc) are presented and discussed critically as history, design sources and tools. It complements the Urban Morphology unit (ARCH9063) unit, which emphasises the built forms that have resulted in part from the theories and models covered in Ideas and Methods. It is a core unit that supports the Urban Design Studios in the Urban Design programs and an informative elective for students enrolled in or intending to enrol in the Urban Architecture Research Studio.
ARCH9063
Urban Morphology
6
2
The unit outlines the nature of urban morphology, and its rise as an area of study, and explores the evolution of city forms with an emphasis upon urban structure and typology. Most designed components of our cities conform in their general characteristics to identifiable types; they reflect the functions of cities, cultural values and the technological, economic and social circumstances of their times. These have been laid down over particular landforms and previous built forms and landscapes to result in usually complex, and often distinct, local characteristics. The ability to recognize, investigate and respond to these forms and relationships lies at the heart of good urban design. The development of an historical knowledge, and of sensibilities and skills in the recording and interpretation of urban pattern and form for design purposes is the unit's primary aim. It will develop abilities to make more informed 'readings' of the urban landscape, and judgments about structure and form in contemporary urban design: retention, modification, replacement, etc. On completion, a student will be better able to: recognize structures and patterns, and key building and spatial typologies that contribute to overall city morphology; record and describe these, investigate and explain their origins, and discuss informatively their place in urban change and contemporary design. It complements the Urban Design - Ideas and Methods unit (ARCH9062) which emphasises the theories and models underpinning the forms that are covered in this unit. It is a core unit that supports the Urban Design Studios in the Urban Design programs and an informative elective for students enrolled in or intending to enrol in the Urban Architecture Research Studio.
PLAN9068
History & Theory of Planning & Design
6
1
This unit is in two overlapping modules, each of which is assessed. Module one enables students to understand how the main concepts and practices of urban planning and development have evolved; appreciate different perspectives about the roles and purposes of planning; undertake basic historical research about Australian urban planning and development issues, and prepare basic stories and arguments about practical planning issues and current theories. There is a strong emphasis on enriching the ability of students to better appreciate urban form, structure and planning practice generally by analysing such form, structure and process through the lens of history (as 'snapshots' in time), and the understanding planning drivers that shape and express such urban change. Interpreting planning practice and what this means and reflects (such as underlying values, norms attitudes, public interest, etc) is a key element of this module. Concurrent with module one, module two familiarises students with the main ideas and methods that have influenced urban design practice from the late nineteenth century to the present. It covers the dominant urban design theories, principles, conceptual and physical models, analytical methods and drawings from key contributing authors over the period, and explores critically how and why these arose, their interrelationships, spheres of influence, and continuing validity. In this module, key urban design 'classics' are discussed critically as history, design sources and tools.Students will be able to: critically review and interpret key planning and urban design texts, construct and present basic arguments, orally and in documents; access and engage with key literature and other sources of knowledge; and use basic conceptual frameworks about planning arguments and stories for both the overlapping fields of urban planning and urban design.This is an introductory core unit for both the Urban Planning and Urban Design degrees.
ARCH9001
Urban Design Studio A
12
1/2
These studios are the heart of the urban design program. Values, knowledge and skills acquired in other units and from previous experience are supplemented and enhanced, and applied creatively to both the investigation and development phases of design projects at an urban scale. These may be concerned with the generation of strategies, frameworks, concepts, master plans, public space improvements, or other urban design purposes. They are chosen carefully to expose students to a range of contexts (central city, suburban, institutional campuses, etc) and contemporary issues concerning urban form, activity, transport and the implementation of projects.Students are expected to extend their presentation methods by developing illustrative, writing and verbal skills appropriate to urban design. It is usual for the backgrounds of those enrolled in the studios to span at least architecture, planning and landscape architecture, with inter-disciplinary group work an essential part. Visionary and innovative approaches are encouraged.Students will be expected to demonstrate appropriate (professional-level) problem recognition, investigative, analytical, interpretative, design and presentation skills and abilities on projects of an urban scale. Assessment may also embrace abilities to prepare and interpret project briefs, program proposals and work in groups.The central aim of this unit is to develop abilities and skills (investigation, analysis and interpretation, design development and presentation) which will enable students to carry out urban design projects such as the preparation of strategies, frameworks, concepts and master plans in a professional and visionary manner.
ARCH9002
Urban Design Studio B
12
1/2
These studios are the heart of the urban design program. Values, knowledge and skills acquired in other units and from previous experience are supplemented and enhanced, and applied creatively to both the investigation and development phases of design projects at an urban scale. These may be concerned with the generation of strategies, frameworks, concepts, master plans, public space improvements, or other urban design purposes. They are chosen carefully to expose students to a range of contexts (central city, suburban, institutional campuses, etc) and contemporary issues concerning urban form, activity, transport and the implementation of projects.Students are expected to extend their presentation methods by developing illustrative, writing and verbal skills appropriate to urban design. It is usual for the backgrounds of those enrolled in the studios to span at least architecture, planning and landscape architecture, with inter-disciplinary group work an essential part. Visionary and innovative approaches are encouraged.Students will be expected to demonstrate appropriate (professional-level) problem recognition, investigative, analytical, interpretative, design and presentation skills and abilities on projects of an urban scale. Assessment may also embrace abilities to prepare and interpret project briefs, program proposals and work in groups.The central aim of this unit is to develop abilities and skills (investigation, analysis and interpretation, design development and presentation) which will enable students to carry out urban design projects such as the preparation of strategies, frameworks, concepts and master plans in a professional and visionary manner.
ARCH9060
Urban Design Report
12
1/2
The Urban Design Report is a substantial project involving research conducted over one semester. It will usually take the form of an illustrated report (between 10000 and 15000 words) on an approved urban design subject of the student's choice. The subject may be of a practical bent (e.g. review or preparation of an urban design project) or more theoretical (e.g. review of a conceptual viewpoint), or it may occupy the middle ground (e.g. exploration of a contemporary issue or review/testing of a method). If of a more practical nature, its theoretical underpinning should be explicit. If more theoretical, it should refer to its practical implications. The report is an opportunity to advance knowledge and skills in a particular area of urban design and so develop a "professional edge".The aim of the Report is to enhance abilities and knowledge essential to the practice of urban design.These include the abilities to: define and address a practical or theoretical urban design problem; conduct such a project in an acceptable investigatory manner; think critically about the subject; identify, access and use appropriate and up-to-date information sources, including relevant theory and methods; and present the report, including appropriate illustrations, in a manner that shows both academic and professional competence. The report must demonstrate these features.Permission to continue the Urban Design Report is subject to the approval of a satisfactory research proposal by week 3 of the semester in which the student is enrolled.The Urban Design report is to be submitted by the end of the first week of the formal examination period for the semester in which the student is enrolled.

Enriched Core

MARC4102
Modern Architectural Theory
6
2
The objective of the Modern Architectural Theory unit is to equip students with a critical understanding of key Western architectural theories from the Enlightenment to the present. Emphasis is placed on the specific historical situations and cultural and philosophical contexts in which those theories arose, and ultimately how they were represented within the domain of architectural embodiment. It is organized predominantly as a chronological survey which clearly identifies particular trains of thought in their continuity and transformation throughout history. Students will become generally conversant in the principles of central theories, and will understand their terms and references. Through readings, lectures, and tutorial sessions, students will acquire the literacy required to perceive and articulate contemporary theoretical standpoints, and will refine their research and writing skills through independent research into a particular aspect of recent architectural theory and history related to their concurrent studio design project. Close attention will be paid to the exchange between practice and theory and the relevance of the discussed theories to the formation of current circumstances, and to the place of architecture within contemporary culture as a whole.
MARC4201
Modern Architectural History
6
1
This unit presents foundational knowledge concerning modern movements in global architecture and urbanism, from the early-20th century to the present. It explores the relationships between developments in architectural practice and broader dynamics of 20th century history. Organised as a chronological survey focused on case studies of individual buildings, the course uses architectural exemplars to explore the social, political, technological, economic, and aesthetic guises of modernity. In addition to developing student analytical skills, the unit seeks to introduce students to formal and conceptual approaches to architectural modernity, provide a critical overview of the architectural profession and its historical context over the last century, and impart knowledge of the major periods and developments of modern movements in architecture and their relationship to the multiple guises of modernity in which they were embedded.Through readings and lectures, students will acquire the architectural literacy required to perceive the contemporary built environment as an artefact of modernity's varied legacies. In addition, students will be expected to refine their research and writing skills through their individual investigations of a particular aspect of modern architecture.
MARC4001
Urban Architecture Research Studio
12
1/2
The studio examines the role and agency of architecture in the urban context - interrogating the internal and external parameters that act on the design process at incremental urban scales and intensities and engaging with the societal, financial, legislative and managerial frameworks that shape urban development, The studio will prompt students to develop critical positions in regard to urban issues and to extend and explore those positions through the architectural design process.MARC4001 Studio A Urban Architecture, MARC4002 Studio B Sustainable Architecture and MARC4003 Studio C Digital Architecture are all available in both semesters 1 and 2. Students may enrol or pre-enrol freely, but some will be asked to swap to create equal groups. After three semesters each student will have done each of the studios. The studios examine the relationships between architecture and urbanism; architecture and sustainability; and architecture and digital design. Each is based around one or more design projects which address a specialised area of study, supported by lectures and seminars which introduce the relevant theory, knowledge and design precedents. Studios require the investigation of key technical issues and systems, and their innovative integration in the design, with the preparation of appropriate contract documents. On the successful completion of these units, students will have demonstrated: an ability to formulate, interpret and communicate appropriate concepts derived from the study of brief and site; an ability to extend those starting points into a working design proposal; an ability to develop the design proposal in response to critique, and produce a building design which demonstrably embodies understanding of the principles associated with the specialised study area; an ability to communicate the design ideas effectively through appropriate graphic and three-dimensional means using architectural conventions; and an ability to cohesively design and execute a comprehensive presentation of the project. These units are core to the Master of Architecture.
MARC4002
Sustainable Architecture Research Studio
12
1/2
MARC4002 Studio B Sustainable Architecture will focus on the theories, technologies and techniques that promote the creation of a sustainable built environment. The studio projects will directly explore the interdependent issues of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The studio will prompt students to develop critical positions in regard to sustainability and to extend and explore those positions through the architectural design process.MARC4001 Studio A Urban Architecture, MARC4002 Studio B Sustainable Architecture and MARC4003 Studio C Digital Architecture are all available in both semesters 1 and 2. Students may enrol or pre-enrol freely, but some will be asked to swap to create equal groups. After three semesters each student will have done each of the studios. The studios examine the relationships between architecture and urbanism; architecture and sustainability; and architecture and digital design. Each is based around one or more design projects which address a specialised area of study, supported by lectures and seminars which introduce the relevant theory, knowledge and design precedents. Studios require the investigation of key technical issues and systems, and their innovative integration in the design, with the preparation of appropriate contract documents.On the successful completion of these units, students will have demonstrated: an ability to formulate, interpret and communicate appropriate concepts derived from the study of brief and site; an ability to extend those starting points into a working design proposal; an ability to develop the design proposal in response to critique, and produce a building design which demonstrably embodies understanding of the principles associated with the specialised study area; an ability to communicate the design ideas effectively through appropriate graphic and three-dimensional means using architectural conventions; and an ability to cohesively design and execute a comprehensive presentation of the project. These units are core to the Master of Architecture.
MARC4003
Digital Architecture Research Studio
12
1/2
MARC4003 Studio C Digital Architecture explores theories, media and techniques that involve digital mediation to create engaging architectural designs that stimulate all human senses in their relationship with the built environment. The studio addresses various issues of digital media, digital design techniques, design theories, computational concepts and other factors influencing the development of architectural production using digital tools. The studio prompts critical reflections on design conventions and creates novel design positions.MARC4001 Studio A Urban Architecture, MARC4002 Studio B Sustainable Architecture and MARC4003 Studio C Digital Architecture are all available in both semesters 1 and 2. Students may enrol or pre-enrol freely, but some will be asked to swap to create equal groups. After three semesters each student will have done each of the studios. The studios examine the relationships between architecture and urbanism; architecture and sustainability; and architecture and digital design. Each is based around one or more design projects which address a specialised area of study, supported by lectures and seminars which introduce the relevant theory, knowledge and design precedents. Studios require the investigation of key technical issues and systems, and their innovative integration in the design, with the preparation of appropriate contract documents. On the successful completion of these units, students will have demonstrated: an ability to formulate, interpret and communicate appropriate concepts derived from the study of brief and site; an ability to extend those starting points into a working design proposal; an ability to develop the design proposal in response to critique, and produce a building design which demonstrably embodies understanding of the principles associated with the specialised study area; an ability to communicate the design ideas effectively through appropriate graphic and three-dimensional means using architectural conventions; and an ability to cohesively design and execute a comprehensive presentation of the project. These units are core to the Master of Architecture.
PLAN9061
Planning Principles, Systems & Practice
6
1/2a
This unit aims to prepare you for professional practice as a strategic or development assessment planner. It focuses on social, economic and environmental principles for contemporary planning practice; the systems for land use planning and environmental management in Australia, and the practice of statutory planning and development assessment in NSW.By the end of this unit of study you will: understand the social, economic, and environmental principles underpinning contemporary planning practice; appreciate key legal and institutional processes for environmental planning in Australia and internationally; be familiar with the various planning state, regional, and local planning instruments in NSW, and understand when and how they apply to planning proposals. You will also be able to assess the social, economic, and environmental impacts of basic planning proposals, and justify these recommendations in professional planning reports. In preparing for professional practice you will gain an understanding of the principles, techniques and requirements for public participation in environmental planning and assessment; and the ethical responsibilities of land use planners, including respect for diversity and the importance of social equity, in guiding decision making processes and assessing planning proposals.
PLAN9062
Planning Law
6
2
This unit aims to develop an understanding of planning law that enables competent professional practice in addressing a range of complex planning issues.Students will be able to prepare reports on practical planning issues that demonstrate: knowledge of how planning intentions are implemented through policies, instruments and controls; knowledge of how planning law shapes practice; knowledge of instrumental arrangements and environmental planning procedures; knowledge of the main characteristics of well-reasoned and well-structured documents; awareness of the importance of evidence and argument in preparing planning proposals, for example, about planning instruments and development applications; and a general understanding of techniques for community consultation.
PLAN9063
Strategic Planning and Design
6
2
The aim of PLAN9063 Strategic Planning and Design is to provide students with grounding in the core knowledge and skills needed to practice as a contemporary urban planner. A key emphasis in the unit is understanding strategic planning at a range of levels (both process and content), and applying this knowledge to a specific case study site. The latter includes a basic appreciation of planning and urban design skills in site evaluation, analysis and preparation of masterplans. Strategic planning in one form or other is a generic process that underpins much of the work that planners and urban designers are involved in at varying spatial levels.By the end of this unit, students will be able to explain the varied forms, scales and key issues involved in contemporary strategic urban planning and urban design, prepare a basic strategic context analysis, site analysis, design proposal, and an articulation of planning and urban design issues; and apply key technical tools. This includes basic demographic analysis, graphic presentation, consultation strategies and survey tools to urban planning and problems. Students will be able to assess strategic plans, including basic urban design criteria, and identify their role and implementation relevance in the planning process. In addition, this Unit of Study will enable students to develop generic skills such as group discussion, productive group work and organisation, negotiation skills and information literacy skills.This is an introductory core unit for the Urban Planning degree and an elective for the Urban Design degree.
PLAN9045
Economics for Planners
6
1
The aim of PLAN9045 Economics for Planners is to introduce the key economic theories, processes and techniques used by contemporary urban planners. The Unit of Study has two parts. In the first part of the Unit, students are introduced to the economic drivers shaping city and regional development outcomes, and the location and form of different land uses. The second part of the Unit equips students with core technical skills, including project and program evaluation, demographics and population forecasting, economic and social impact analysis, development feasibility, assessment of benefits and costs, and justification for public funding.
PLAN9064
Land Use and Infrastructure Planning
6
2
This unit is primarily concerned with planning, land use and infrastructure within the built environments. It emphasizes conceptual knowledge, with examples and case studies to demonstrate the application of concepts in practice. Students are encouraged to think independently, creatively and critically in developing understanding and practical knowledge about environmental planning at the metropolitan and local level.This unit is in two modules, each of which is assessed.1. Land use, infrastructure planning and urban development: different forms of infrastructure; the role of infrastructure in creating good environments and urban development; transport and the space economy; accessibility, the emergence of transport technologies and their influence on urban form; the impacts of car travel on densities, dispersion, congestion etc; orthodox transport planning; transport systems management; demand management and travel pricing; traffic restraint and local area traffic management; mobility and accessibility; networks, centres, and development corridors; transit oriented development and urban form. The Sydney Metropolitan Strategy and concepts contained therein are used as a main focus for this module.2. Land use planning, development control and plan making: within the context of more effective land use planning, this module examines at the process of assessing a local area (such as structure, form and understanding character), developing local vision and neighbourhood strategies and structure plan, translating the strategy and structure plan into basic land use and planning controls (such as building height, floor space ratio, heritage, and other local area provisions) and producing a basic plan for development control purposes. A case study is used for class work (with practitioners involved) so as to understand how the plan making process evolves, including the assumptions and values used. This is an introductory core unit for the Urban Planning degree and an elective for the Urban Design degree.

Electives

PLAN9049
International Urban Development Planning
6
1
This unit is designed to fill a significant gap in the evolution of the urban and regional planning syllabus. Development project assistance is a multi billion dollar industry with Australia alone contributing significantly through projects and technical assistance in Africa, Asia (east, south and north) and the Pacific. Additionally are the programs of the multilateral agencies like the World and Asian Development Banks and those of the largest donor countries of Japan, United States and European nations. There are many parallels between urban and regional plan making and the design of development projects. Indeed, some planning consultancies are primarily engaged in international development assistance work. Differences in context, approach, content and implementation place particular demands on development project designers that are not addressed in standard land use planning texts. Additionally, expenditure of large sums of public money has brought with it demands for quality assurance (QA) assessment at each stage of the development project activity cycle. An introduction to QA methodology and practice is a necessary component of development project design.International development assistance is a huge business employing large numbers of Australian consultants, contractors and supplying companies together with those of partner governments. Planners contribute to the design, implementation and evaluation of development projects in most of the neighbouring countries of Asia and the Pacific. Development project design is conditioned by several key elements including: components of the project activity cycle, thematic policy goals and essential quality assurance requirements. This unit is designed for planners who may work in the field of international development.By the end of this unit of study you should have an understanding of the role and scope of development assistance project planning; an ability to undertake the studies required at each stage of the development project activity cycle; familiarity with the fundamentals of development project design; ability to comply with design conditions imposed by the key policy themes of: poverty, gender equity, environmental and sustainability focused development objectives; familiarity with the scope and character of urban and regional planning project design and implementation in the Asia-Pacific region; and an understanding of quality assurance assessment methodology in development project assessment.The unit reflects the increasing internationalisation of Australian planning practice. It caters to the needs of local and international students intending to work on urban and regional planning projects within a development assistance context.
PLAN9071
Housing & Urban and Regional Development
6
1a
PLAN9073
GIS Based Planning Policy and Analysis
6
Int
This unit is concerned with using GIS to analyse planning problems and undertake policy analyses. The unit will include a comprehensive introduction to mapping and the use of GIS: data structures, topology, projections, spatial and non-spatial queries. Australian census products will be described and students will be expected to analyse census statistics using GIS maps. The role of GIS in coordinating various forms of information for policy analyses, preparing master plans, in presenting information for development control, impact analyses and wider management purposes will also be covered. The use of GIS to support visualisation will be covered, using examples about designing development projects and planning instruments. Finally, the various forms of distributing maps to the public and policy-makers will be discussed.The unit integrates the hands-on learning of GIS software with a `research-based` approach. Teaching will involve short lectures, studios and workshops. Assessment will be on a series of smaller assignments and a larger report prepared by each student that integrates GIS-based (and other) graphics into a coherent policy analysis. In addition, each student will make oral presentations on their work in studio sessions.
PLAN9074
Public & Community Finance for Planners
6
Int
This unit will cover the elements of public and community finance relevant to planners. The need for this unit has become more significant as planning policies shift from the regulatory towards direct engagement with the financial underpinnings of urban development. The unit will be divided into three modules. The first will cover the basics of business finance, including: the roles of equity and debt, analysing business finance statements (current account, balance sheets etc) and, understanding the role of depreciation, working capital, fixed capital and real estate finance. Students will learn to prepare basic feasibility studies using spreadsheets. The second module will focus on public finance. This will include discussion of the regulation of the banking sector, bonding authority and bonding, public revenue sources including the rating system, and public decision making, including issues of discounting and alternative discount rates. It will also consider the government's roles in financing urban development, (land, infrastructure besides buildings etc) and the related roles of departments and corporatised agencies with implementing public policy and managing urban development.The final module will focus on the financing arrangements between government and private sector agencies, including public-private partnerships and development agreements. It will consider different forms of organizations for undertaking and owning urban development, and examine innovative arrangements drawn from overseas experience and consider their relevance to Australia.Class preparation:12hours each of the two weeks, assessment preparation:40.hours/semester
PLAN9072
Housing Policy and Assistance
6
2
This unit focuses on emerging issues associated with the role of governments in housing, particularly the provision of housing assistance. The field of housing policy studies is extensive with a strong interdisciplinary base that provides a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives on housing issues facing professional housing workers, planners and architects working in Australia or abroad. The unit includes a comparative and historical perspective to increase awareness of differences in housing markets and housing needs, and to promote discussion of alternative approaches to housing policy. The unit will provide opportunities for students to discuss the policy making process and policy choices with practitioners working in different agencies and to analyse the drivers, objective and impacts of recent housing policy initiatives. Students will gain a comparative perspective on housing policy approaches using European and regional examples; and learn to analyse housing assistance needs and measures, including approaches for particular groups - for example housing for indigenous people and communities, housing models for people with support needs. The anticipated outcomes of the unit are to provide a conceptual framework for understanding the rationale for, and scope of, government intervention in housing; and to develop skills in developing and implementing policies that assist lower income earners and those with particular needs to access appropriate and affordable housing.
PLAN9069
Urban Design and Development Control
6
1
The unit aims to develop a professional standard of competence in the generation and implementation of urban design and development controls; and to demonstrate a critical and reflective awareness of the philosophies, concepts and practice of urban design and development control. The unit focuses on the development of design arguments, the translation of preferred design outcomes into development control codes, the legal framework of development controls and the comparison and contrasting of desired design outcomes against appropriate controls. Students should be able to prepare clear and concise development controls, assess and report on the physical and social impact of alternative urban design and development control strategies, and prepare and evaluate design proposals. By the completion of this unit students will be expected to: understand the nature, history, and evolution of development controls; have fundamental notions of good urban design; critically examine design strategies and development controls and make inferences about the type and quality of urban design they are likely (or not) to produce; and develop skills in understanding the implications of overlaying development controls over the built environment. It is expected that: each student will demonstrate critical skills for assessing the soundness of policies, regulations, norms, and codes; students will be able to prepare case studies, which demonstrate understanding of various forms of development controls, and the ability to apply these to urban design proposals.
PLAN9065
Resource and Environmental Management
6
S1/Int
The aims of this unit are (1) to understand basic principles and decision making tools of sustainable environmental and resource planning and management through social science perspective; (2) to apply principles of resource and environmental management to assess the impacts of development activities through case study discussion, and (3) to help students formulating strategies to address environmental and resource management issues and enhance environmental equity and sustainability, particularly with respect to conducting, managing and evaluating environmental impact assessments and addressing the issues of stakeholders participation in collaborative planning and management of environmental and natural resources in Australia. This unit is especially relevant to government agencies, community groups and also non-government organisations involved in environmental and resource planning and management at local, regional, state and national levels; to international conservation and environmental management organisations; and to consulting firms, including those that specialise in environmental assessment and management. Through lectures, case study analyses and discussions, this unit aims to enable students to explore and understand how political and economic processes at various scales can influence environmental and resource management decisions and outcomes at local and regional levels, affecting the nature and extent of social and ecological outcomes in relation to moving towards achieving sustainable environmental and resource management.
PLAN9048
Environmental Design and Planning
6
Int
The unit teaches knowledge and skills relevant to designing and planning the built environment. It engenders capability with designing buildings, places and urban form, having regard to a range of environmental design, planning and sustainability considerations. The unit covers a range of related concepts and topics: designing for user comfort, quality built environments, and sustainability; key environmental design factors (air flow and ventilation; natural and artificial lighting; solar provisions; noise; energy efficiency, waste management etc); urban ecology and landscapes; natural environments and urban systems; innovative hydraulic systems; sustainable architectural and urban design; social dimensions of environmental design; lighting public places for safety, amenity and enclosure; designing secure and manageable public places; implementing ESD with instruments, guidelines and approvals; and environmental studies and development approval. The key attributes engendered by the unit are: to be able to use concepts and methods in a sound and creative manner; to be able to solve relevant design problems; to be able to apply appropriate technical skills and knowledge; and to be able to produce appropriate reports and designs.
ARCH9081
Heritage Law and Policy
6
1
Students completing this unit will be able to undertake heritage studies and assessments, and to prepare instruments and guidelines relating to heritage policies. They will have knowledge of: legislation (international and all levels of government), regulations, planning instruments and policies; registers, inventories and other records of significant items; roles and procedures of various government agencies involved in heritage and conservation. The unit will consider a range of heritage issues, for example, ones relating to landscape, streetscape, archaeology, public places etc, besides buildings. It will also cover a range of issues such as: adaptive reuse, modifications for ESD provisions, management of the context of significant items, and the conservation areas. Students will gain skills in: reviewing legislation, planning instruments and policy documents relating to heritage; preparing basic policies, instruments and related guidelines relating to heritage; critical thinking about heritage issues, and how heritage relate to urban design and planning, ESD and trade-offs with other considerations; reviewing and preparing heritage studies, proposals, management plans, approvals etc. Assessment will be based on assignments addressing both the context and practice of heritage and conservation planning. The unit will be taught by lectures, with site visits. There will be a component of research-led teaching using projects Class preparation: 2 hours/week, assessment preparation: 40.hours/semester
ARCH9075
New Design in Old Settings
6
This unit will cover one of the most fundamental aspects of heritage conservation. Designing infill and additions to historic buildings and precincts are the common practice of architecture throughout time in all cultures. From a multi-disciplinary background this course will aim to develop skills in the assessment of the cultural significance of existing buildings, the impact of new works to the heritage significance of historic buildings in existing contexts, visual and spatial literacy in the design of new fabric in old settings. The course will provide a wide range of examples, including wide international perspective. The aims of the unit are to develop an understanding of the history of designing and building new buildings in old settings; to develop an understanding of the major theoretical and practical issues of designing new buildings in old settings; to develop an ability to critically assess the appropriateness of the design of the new in the context of the accordingly accepted current conservation practice in Australia. By the end of the course the student will be able to produce, at a professional level a Heritage Impact Statement as defined by the NSW Heritage Branch.
ARCH9074
History and Theory of Conservation
6
1
The purpose of this unit is to help student is the intent to develop an appropriate level of knowledge in the development of the ideas and practices of conservation over an historical perspective from Classical times to the present in the Western and Non-Western context. Particular emphasis will be placed on the theoretical ideas and practices of Sir George Gilbert Scott, John Ruskin, the Arts and Crafts Movement, SPAB in England, Eugene Voillet-le-Duc in France. The study of architectural history will provide a broad survey of the development of Western architecture and garden design from the time of the Ancient Egyptians to the present as well as examining in greater detail the development of Australian Architecture from 1788 till the present time. The principal aims of the unit are to develop an understanding of the history and theoretical basis of the development if the idea and practice of conservation from Classical times to the present. Additional to this another main aim id to develop an understanding of the historical development of Western traditions of architectural and garden design, as well as to develop a sound intellectual basis for the understanding of the theory and practice of current conservation practice in Australia and beyond. By the end of the unit the student will successfully demonstrate an understanding of the history of the development the idea of conservation through time and in Western and non-Western traditions; an understanding of the development of Western traditions of architecture and garden design; and skills in the applying this knowledge in the assessment of cultural significance in the Australian and international context. Student workload effort expected:class preparation: three hours per week; assessment preparation 40 hours per semester.
DESC9147
Sustainable Building Design Principles
6
1
The aims of this unit are to develop an understanding and knowledge of the principles underlying sustainable building design practice, in particular those principles which relate to the environmental attributes of the building fabric, the creation of healthy and comfortable interior environments, the selection of appropriate building materials and the minimisation of embodied and operational energy consumption. Unit content: environmental and health impacts of building materials; embodied energy of building materials; understanding energy flows between buildings and their environment; the principles of passive solar heating strategies in cold and temperate climates; strategies for controlling solar and other loads on the building fabric; principles of cooling by natural ventilation; low energy mechanical cooling strategies; hybrid and mixed-mode cooling strategies. By the completion of the unit students will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge of the relevant properties of building materials and construction elements which impact upon the environmental performance of buildings and to demonstrate their competence at applying this knowledge to the formulation of appropriate sustainable design strategies.
DESC9148
Sustainable Building Design Practice
6
2
The aims of this unit are to explore the implications of applying sustainable building design principles on design practice; to evaluate and critique the sustainability of current design practice through an examination of current theory and professional ethics and the exploration of case studies; to explore the development of new sustainable design paradigms. Unit content: the response of architectural practice to the rise of environmentalism in the 20th century; the emergence of passive solar architecture; ecologically sustainable design [ESD] and its impact upon current design practice; real and perceived barriers to a more sustainable design practice; impact of education and theory on practice; expressing the values of sustainability in built form; towards a new sustainable design paradigm. By the completion of the unit students are expected to demonstrate an ability to critique current building design practice in relation to sustainable design principles; to demonstrate their knowledge of key recent buildings which their designers claim to be sustainable and their ability to evaluate these claims; to enunciate a personal position on the impact of applying sustainable design principles on future design practice. The unit will broaden students understanding of the principles of sustainable building design and their impact upon future design practice.

Your Course

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Admission Requirements

To apply, you should hold a Bachelor degree in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning or a closely related design area and submit a portfolio of work with your application. Your portfolio should show several examples of design and design-related work completed as part of your university studies and/or samples of work from professional or equivalent experience (preferably both). Further, your particular role in producing each item of submitted work should be made clear. The portfolio may be submitted electronically in pdf format and consist of the equivalent of approximately 10 A3 sheets, and include drawings and other relevant items of illustration such as photographs of models, with supporting explanation.

Students wishing to apply for the Graduate Certificate (Stratgic Urban Design for planners program) may apply without a portfolio, but will not be eligible to continue through to the Diploma or Master of Urban Design.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate studies can now be completed easily online.

Visit Courses Online to get started.

Applications must be accompanied by original transcripts of study ( or copies issued and certified by the issuing institution), together with certified copies of your Identification. (Birth Certificate or Passport).

Where students are applying for a certificate level based on industry experience, please attach a CV and any other supporting documentation which may assist in the assessment of your application.

Just want to study one unit of study as professional development?

Visit the CPD page for more information on Professional Development courses.

Who should take this course?

Professionals and graduates in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning or a closely related area, will develop and extend their professional expertise, but applicants from other disciplines are welcome. An introductory unit of study has been introduced to enable all students to participate effectively in the design studios, and to provide a basic grounding in urban design for students wishing to undertake the Graduate Certificate only.

Master of Urban Design
(Urban Design)

Can you tell us about your work history?

I have worked as a landscape architect for about eight years, attempting to experience as much variety in the profession as possible early on in my career. This took me from The NSW Government Architects Office, to a mid sized firm called LDA Design in London for several years and to the large multi-disciplinary firm HASSELL working on projects in Sydney and Brisbane. Over this time I have become more involved with the university program and my own studio too. Currently I teach and tutor in five courses at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales.

What attracted you to this degree?

During time spent travelling in the Americas, Europe and Asia after my undergraduate degree, I was also reading books about landscape urbanism, politics and the growth of the world’s urban population. I spent a lot of time experiencing different cities, sketching and writing about how they worked and where they failed. I realized that although I knew about ecology and landscape architectural form, there was a large gap in my understanding regarding the historical and current context of urban areas on a broader scale. I recall it was a choice between a masters of economics or urban design. Of course design won.

Did you have any expectations of what the course would provide you in terms of your career?

When I started the course, I knew that it would add strength to my design work as a landscape architect. At the same time, I had seen a great deal of the fallout of rapid urbanization in many developing and so called developed countries such as urban poverty and environmental degradation. I hoped that the course would enable me to work at a scale more relevant to the problems I had seen.

Was there any part of the course you particularly enjoyed?

Generally, I appreciated the way the course focussed on physical design of city form and the use of diagrams rather than words to communicate ideas. I think these are essential skills for any designer. I particularly enjoyed two subjects in the course. The first was the ‘ideas and methods’ unit. This offered a comprehensive history of the designers, theories and physical schemes that have shaped the worlds cities. Whilst there is always more to learn, the course filled a gap in my knowledge and provided a lens through which to understand city form and also to know where to look for further answers.

The most challenging and enjoyable part of the course for me though was the Urban Design Report. This is an independent, research led project. It is up to the student to propose their own area of urban design study and or design. My topic was ‘Urban Design for Capacity Development in Informal Settlements’. I focussed on developing an urban design methodology and case study design project that was not top down but rather represented democratic visioning of the city by and for its poorest residents. There are now over one billion urban slum dwellers globally and we need to work hard in all fields for more equality.

The degree allowed flexibility in electives - this allowed me to undertake a relevant subject in development from the faculty of international law and also participate in the global studio in Johannesburg which works on the ground with slum dwellers.

On the completion of the course, did you use the knowledge you acquired professionally?

All the way through the course I was working as a designer. I found that even as I studied, things I learnt influenced and improved my personal design process. The course enabled me to become much more agile as a city designer, helping me to design at several different scales simultaneously, an important skill when dealing with the complexities of the urban environment. Also, through subsequent years of work with the global studio in Johannesburg, the study undertaken for my urban design dissertation has contributed to a redirection of some of the strategies for the development of a major urban slum in that city.

Is there any advice you’d give potential students contemplating the course?

If you are a designer who wants to work on projects relevant to the major challenges of the world, this course is a very good option. Urban Design is a growing field, very complicated and challenging but now more than ever relevant to the everyday life of most of the worlds citizens. Urban Design has become a kind of ‘buzz title’ for architects of late which is interesting, but there are many professional misconceptions that it is simply the title for large scale architectural schemes or is more planning focussed. This course will offer you the insight and the intellectual freedom that enables your design work to become so much more.