Research course

Applied Research in Urban Design

University of Buckingham · School of Humanities
MA by research

Entry requirements

The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows: a first or second-class honours degree from a recognised university or; a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience.

Months of entry


Course content

This ground-breaking Master’s programme addresses the urban ‘data revolution’ that has transformed our understanding of the associations between ‘built form’ — buildings and how these relate to each other — and happiness, and both mental health and physical health. Urban designers, however, have often struggled to integrate this emerging evidence into their own practice. The principal aim of this Master’s course is to help urban design professionals, civic leaders, developers or investors to better understand this recent research and to apply it to their work.

The course explores ways in which the processes of evidence gathering and community consultation can be integrated successfully into a creative design process – to blend art and science. It will also provide access to a stimulating body of scholarly literature, and to leading researchers and urban thinkers. The course offers a rich exploration of how various research methods can inform better urban design practice.

Graduates will learn to be able to assess the quality of research across a range of disciplines, and understand how this evidence is to be interpreted and appropriately applied. Master’s students will achieve improved data literacy (distinguishing, for example, correlation from causation, mediator from moderator) and acquire the skills needed to utilise the insights derived from this research. The course will employ practical case studies to illuminate the process of commissioning and producing reliable and applicable evidence.

The need for applied academic study of these topics is rendered more urgent by the current British demand for a much-increased rate of house building. Given the consistently lower popularity of recently constructed urban space (as compared with most older designs), there is both a desire and a sense of necessity within government and among many involved in urban planning to improve their ability to create urban spaces and buildings that command general support. There is also added pressure to make better policy and planning decisions, reflected in the recent establishment by the UK Government of the ‘What Works Network’ — an initiative to enable government agencies and other organisations to create, share and use high quality evidence for decision-making.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification and course duration

MA by research

full time
12 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Claire Prendergast
+44 (0)1280 820204
+44 (0)1280 822245