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.


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.

Why Planning at Sydney

The University of Sydney’s Planning division is made up of a team of experienced, practicing planners and academics who regularly comment and advise on planning issues – directly influencing the policy, planning and design of cities and regions across the globe.

Through the support of the US Studies Centre, Cities Network, Henry Halloran Trust and Planning Research Centre, we host regular, lively debates, lectures and symposiums, ensuring our graduates are not only engaged in and informed on current topics, but gain opportunities to network with key stakeholders in local government and industry.

We invite you to , to receive invitations to upcoming public lectures and planning events in the Faculty, such as the recent Festival of Urbanism.

Or visit the Faculties YouTube page to watch past lectures on planning issues held as part of our regular Thursday Night Lecture Series.


Future Cities Collaborative

The University of Sydney’s Future Cities Collaborative brings together policy, practice and research to inform our city leaders into inspired action to build great cities. The Collaborative is an initiative of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, with its primary role to promote sustainable urban development by supporting city leaders with leadership and strategic management tools, creating a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information, and develop skills and knowledge in building sustainable cities.


Find out more about our collaboration with the Future Cities Project and hear from Program Director Rob Simpson on how our students are influencing decision makers (1.42min).

Multi-diciplinary Engagement: Design Lab

The Planning division at the University of Sydney is at the forefront of emerging Big Data research, a cutting-edge field that utilises data mining, mapping and informatics to determine changes in urban dynamics, resource use and human behaviour. Through collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture, design and Planning’s in-house Design Lab, students have the opportunity to contribute in this exciting field of research which are driving advances towards comprehensive, intelligent planning decisions.

Henry Halloran Trust

The Urban Design program is supported by the Henry Halloran Trust. Established in July 2012, this trust provides funds for the provision of education in Urban Design. The proceeds from this trust are used to attract the best of international talent for teaching and presentations to our planning students. There is also an opportunity for students to apply for top-up scholarships for their research programs in Urban Design. Visit the Visit the Halloran Trust Wepage to find out more.

Cities Network

The Cities Network brings together over 30 urban researchers from The University of Sydney to address several interlinked thematic areas demanding an interdisciplinary response. As a planning student at The University of Sydney you will be exposed to the current research, networking opportunities and community engagement over current issues in the planning discipline and beyond. Visit the Cities Network Webpage to discover more, and to join the mailing list of upcoming events.

Read more on our Planning Academics recent involvement with local and international planning issues.


Semester 1Semester 2
ARCH9100 Introduction to Urban Design6ARCH9100 Introduction to Urban Design6
PLAN9068 History and Theory of Planning and Design6ARCH9080 Urban Ecology, Design and Planning6
ARCH9001 Urban Design Studio A12ARCH9063 Urban Morphology6
ARCH9002 Urban Design Studio B12ARCH9001 Urban Design Studio A12
ARCH9060 Urban Design Report12ARCH9002 Urban Design Studio B12
  ARCH9060 Urban Design Report12
IDEA9106 Design Thinking6

Study Options

The Master of Urban Design is a 1.5 year program that can be undertaken in full-time of part-time mode.

Students can also undertake Urban Design studies as part of the 2 year Master of Urbanism degree which includes a unique capstone experience designed to unite students in aligned disciplines of Planning and Heritage Conservation in a studio based project. More on this program here: sydney.edu.au/architecture/programs_of_study/postgraduate/urbanism.shtml

Graduate Certificate: An Introduction to Urban Design for non-designers.

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).

Flexible Study Options that Suit Your Lifestyle

Urban Design units are taught in weekly studio sessions or evening lecture format. Please refer to the Faculty Handbook to explore the delivery method of you chosen subjects.

Timetables are set approximately 2 months before the Semester commences. Future students can download the current timetable, as well as previous semester timetables to assist in understanding the expectant time commitments required during your studies.

Continuing Professional Development

Individual units may also be taken as Continuing Professional Development short courses without enrolling into a degree. Units taken with an assessment component may be credited towards further study within an aligned program.



Applicants to the Urban Design program 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. Entry to the University of Sydney is competitive, and so your portfolio will be carefully considered by the current Program Director to ensure graduates of our program are of the highest standard and continue to be highly regarded by the Urban Design industry across the globe.

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. It may include drawings, renderings and other relevant items of illustration such as photographs of models, with supporting explanation.


Portfolios should be no longer than 15 digital A3 or A4 pages, saved in PDF format under 10Mb in file size, and clearly labelled ‘Portfolio’ with your application number and name. This can then be directly uploaded as a document with your application.

Students who have undertaken either professional work experience, field study in relation to architecture, international exchange units or a postgraduate qualification in a related discipline should also include this detail in letter or CV format to support their application.

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

English Language Requirements

All programs within the Architecture School of the faculty demand a high level of English Language proficiency to ensure students are able to fully express their design work or research successfully, both verbally and in written format.

The English Language scores required for admission to our programs are as follows:

  • IELTS: A minimum result of 7.0 overall and a minimum result of 6.0 in each band TOEFL paper-based: A minimum result of 600 overall including a minimum result of 4.5 in Writing.

  • TOEFL IBT: A minimum result of 100 overall including a minimum result of 22 in Reading, Listening and Speaking and 23 in Writing.

More information on how to apply as an international student, including detailed language requirements and student scholarships please visit the international student office webpage.

Building your English Language Skills for Study with us.

The Centre for English Teaching is a dedicated school for English teaching which offers long or short programs to help you reach the required English language levels. Discover the range of CET pathway programs here: sydney.edu.au/cet/

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate studies can now be completed easily online to upload copies all supporting documentation including transcripts of study and ID (passport or birth certificate).

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.