Urban Morphology (ARCH9063)


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 judgements 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 History and Theory Planning and Design (PLAN9068) 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 program and the Integrated Urbanism Studio in the Urbanism program and an informative elective for students enrolled in or intending to enrol in the Urban Architecture Research Studio.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


3 hrs lectures/tutorials


Scoping Report and Presentation (20%); Draft Report and Presentation (30%); and Final Report (50%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules



Assumed knowledge

Some prior study of architectural, urban or planning history.



Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.