MSc Urban Design & Planning

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

Urban design lies at the interface of architecture and urban planning, with both disciplines contributing complementary but contrasting approaches to urban design theory and practice. The delivery of this master's programme draws on the distinct methodologies, professional perspectives and pedagogies of both urban planning and architectural disciplinary areas within the school. It provides specialist knowledge and skills in urban design theory and practice, urban conservation; nature-based solutions, and the relationship between research and design.

The programme will enable graduates to work as part of a multidisciplinary team to create better places through urban design. Students will also have the opportunity to draw upon the School’s research expertise to place urban design centre stage in tackling a range of pressing environmental and other issues. The programme will appeal to graduates from closely related disciplinary backgrounds wishing to specialise in urban design, including those with qualifications in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning.

Applications will also be considered from graduates with other related disciplinary backgrounds (e.g. geography, engineering, property economics, surveying) where the applicant has a particular interest the specialist area of urban design (as opposed to planning more broadly).

The UCD School of Architecture, Planning & Environmental Policy has an established international track record as a leading research centre in spatial planning. The School is a member of the Association of European Schools of Planning.

Module Information:

Under the "What modules can I take?" section below you will see general module information, for a more detailed description including module selection rules click here.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

The programme seeks to instil values in graduates that are appropriate to a career in urban design and planning, specifically: a critical, reflective and intellectually confident approach to learning, research and practice; self-motivation; an appreciation of evidence-based solutions and social equity in decision-making; respect for the contrasting and complementary contributions of other specialist areas, professions and the role of the wider public; and a recognition of how these values impact upon practice and upon wider society. While the programme will be of interest primarily to graduates from planning, architecture, landscape architecture backgrounds, it is also aimed at those from other related disciplinary backgrounds wishing to specialise in urban design and planning. It aims to train, mentor and support graduates in developing core, transferable and specialist skills and knowledge in urban design, conservation and sustainable and resilient urbanism, as well as social science research methods applied to the built environment, and will enable graduates to work as part of a multidisciplinary team to create better places through urban design. While interactive lectures and seminars introduce students to key concepts, theory and approaches in urban design and planning, design labs provide experience of working with other disciplines to solve complex urban design problems within the wider context of urban planning. Teaching, learning and assessment approaches include debates and discussions, presentations, case studies, graphic communication, as well as group project work.

  • Appreciate the relevance of societal diversity and equality of opportunity in stakeholder involvement, and in urban design policymaking and practice more generally.
  • Demonstrate an advanced ability to apply concepts, theory and research skills to generate integrated and evidence-based responses to urban design and planning challenges, including those associated with environmental risks and urban resilience.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of multidisciplinary research in urban design, planning, environmental policy, and related fields, exhibit skills as autonomous researchers, and recognize the value of research in enhancing urban design policy and practice.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the challenges, responsibilities and diverse consequences of design and development decisions, an openness to critically evaluate, debate and reflect on these, and an appreciation of the importance of values, ethics and professionalism in urban design.
  • Demonstrate effective research, analytical, evaluative and design skills, and the ability to rigorously formulate and propose robust evidence-based strategies and solutions in response to urban design problems at a range of urban spatial scales.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of urban design activity within the context of political, institutional, and legal frameworks, and understand its wider physical, environmental, economic, social, and cultural context, and its relationship with spatial planning in contributing to sustainable urban development.
  • Demonstrate personal and time management skills, and the ability to work effectively both on their own and as part of a team in a multidisciplinary context.
  • Effectively and fluently communicate concepts, knowledge, conclusions and arguments through verbal, written and advanced graphic means, to peers, specialist and non-specialist audiences within a multidisciplinary environment.

The MSc Urban Design and Planning is aimed at graduates from a variety of disciplinary and professional backgrounds wishing to specialise in urban design and planning. The programme is therefore designed to train, mentor and support graduates in developing their specialist knowledge and understanding, along with transferable skills and tools, for careers related to the field. These include roles in the public, private and community sectors, including planning and urban design consultancies, local authorities, development firms, regeneration companies, environmental and other NGOs, as well as research and teaching.

View All Modules Here

This section links to general module information, for a more detailed description including module selection rules click here.

All students undertake modules worth 90 credits. These establish the context and theory for urban design, provide the opportunity for engagement with core themes within a studio-based context, introduce key research skills, and allow students to pursue their own specialist interest through the completion of a thesis. Please note that some modules listed may not be available in a given year.

MSc Urban Design & Planning (W332) Full Time
EU          fee per year - € 9300
nonEU    fee per year - € 22600

***Fees are subject to change

Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme. For further information please see

This programme is accredited as a specialist qualification by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

  • An honours undergraduate degree (NFQ level 8) with a minimum upper second class honours or international equivalent in planning or cognate discipline, including architecture and landscape architecture. Applications from graduates with a degree in another related subject area will also be considered, including geography, engineering, property economics, and surveying.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate English language proficiency of IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0 in each element), or equivalent.
  • These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes 

Graduate Profile - Róisín Cahill, Henry J Lyons

"The MSc in Urban Design and Planning is well balanced in both structure and content providing a strong foundation for the workplace. I found the masters supportive of developing a range of skills and interests throughout each term. The design studio modules provide a space for testing and investigating the learnings from the theory modules. The final term thesis allows for an in-depth study into an area of interest that you have already explored through theory and studio modules in the previous terms. The mixed disciplinary faculty and students in the programme offer additional perspectives and knowledge while regular in class presentations allow for strengthening graphic communication and presentation skills. Since graduating from MSc Urban Design and Planning I have worked as a research assistant in an Architecture practice in Dublin and have found the critical analysis and graphic communication skills I developed during my masters in UCD to be a great benefit." 

The following entry routes are available:

MSc Urban Design & Planning FT (W332)
1 Years
Full Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised