University of Portsmouth

University of Portsmouth

Sustainable Cities

Overview The need for sustainable urban living has never been greater. Today, our cities are responsible for almost 80% of all CO2 emissions - and with estimates suggesting up to 70% of the world will live in a city by 2050, that figure could rise even higher. If you want to plan and design the sustainable urban communities of the future and help reduce the demands and impacts we make on the natural world, our MA Sustainable Cities degree course is the perfect way to fulfil your ambitions. Building on our Cluster for Sustainable Cities, you'll learn from leading experts and explore new systemic and integrated solutions for cities, and help shape the journey towards greener, healthier, more inclusive and resilient environments. And when you graduate, you'll be ready for a career in urban design within architectural firms and environmental organisations, or to enter further academic study. What you'll experience On this course, you'll: Engage with leading research into sustainable cities Use facilities including dynamic studios with advanced architectural computing facilities Develop collaborative projects with external partners, such as practitioners and academic institutions in the UK and overseas Work on live projects, with real clients Take an optional field trip to learn more about global urban sustainability Get to meet leading figures in the field of Environmental Design Combine theory, practice, research and work-based learning to understand contemporary issues in sustainable development Work experience and career planning We'll help you to identify internships, voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies. When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in urban design and the planning of sustainable cities. After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career. Careers and opportunities When you graduate from this course, you can choose a career in organisations including design practices, architectural firms and cross-disciplinary environments. Here are some routes our graduates have pursued: Consultancy Urban planning and urban design NGOs and environmental organisations Local authorities Further academic study You'll also learn creative skills and professional competencies which are valuable in fields like virtual design and modelling or project management. We'll provide you with as much support as possible in finding employment through close industrial contacts, careers events, recruitment fairs and individual advice.

Entry requirements

MA: A minimum of a second-class honours degree in Interior Design, Architecture or a related subject, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. An online portfolio submission will be required as part of the selection process. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Course modules

This course uses the experience and skills of teaching staff with a proven track record in the research and practice of sustainable cities. You will also benefit from a multi-disciplinary learning environment where more than 100 postgraduate students in architecture, interior design, urban design and historic building conservation can meet and work. Here are the units you will study: Theory: This unit presents the challenges and key theoretical frameworks of planning and designing for sustainability. It will also analyse selected themes in the history and theory of planning and urban design relevant to contemporary debates. Topics to be covered may include urban systems, nature in cities, sustainable planning models, environmental and climate sensitive design, resilience for adaptation, environmental policies, radical theories and criticism, sustainable conservation and sustainable buildings. The unit will foster your reflection on the social, cultural and physical processes involved in the production of sustainable communities; allowing you to recognise the most significant past experiences, to engage with contemporary theoretical discussions and to critically reflect upon your own practice. Practice: The main aim of this unit is to present you with the opportunity to integrate your knowledge and skills in a project for a sustainable city or community. Today, major environmental and economic challenges require new models for the built environment that are resource efficient, adaptable to environmental modifications and designed to facilitate placemaking. This unit asks you to investigate such models, thus prefiguring 'future cities' and exploring how new frameworks can contribute to a higher quality of life, resilience and sustainability. Climate sensitive design will be an essential means to rethink the urban fabric in order to transform the cities in resilient systems capable to positively adapt to climate change and respond to events such as sea level rise, desertification, earthquakes and tornados. Moreover, the transformation of the built environment from energy intensive to an energy generator will be a further opportunity to develop design skills through the use of advanced digital tools and smart technologies. Research Methods: This unit will introduce you to key research methods and approaches in the built environment. Here you will develop your research skills, which will aid you throughout your course and particularly in producing your thesis. You will be encouraged to explore methods of investigation that are responsive to, as well as inquisitive of, the conditions presented and which therefore speculate around possible critical scenarios. Integration: This unit allows you to work in a multi-disciplinary context in a practice-base environment. You will need to work collectively on given projects or problems, which explore a range of themes related to sustainable cities. Work-Based Learning: This optional unit can be taken instead of the Integration unit. Work-based learning requires you to engage in critical and reflective learning in the workplace. This will be developed through a learning contract, negotiated by you, your employer and the School. The work undertaken in practice will be appraised through critical reflective writing that engages with the practice of the particular subject discipline and this will form the assessment artefacts. Thesis: Your thesis is a substantial research-based or practice-based project that enables you to carry out an in-depth investigation into a subject area within the theme of sustainable cities. An initial seminar programme will help you develop your research proposal, define a research question and locate suitable primary and secondary sources. You will be allocated an appropriate supervisor on the basis of this proposal, who will work with you toward the final submission.

Assessment methods

This course is lecture, seminar and studio-based, culminating in a written or design-led thesis project. It will involve case study investigations, group work, discussion and planning of sustainable environments, as well as independent study to develop design or research-based responses to urban problems. On top of learning from the experts at the University of Portsmouth, the program may include the participation of international leading figures in the field of Environmental Design such as Thomas Auer (Transsolar), Antonino Di Raimo (Polis University), Marco Poletto (Ecologic Studio), Rahul Girish (BIG Architects), Emanuele Lisci and Liam Stumbles (University of Auckland). Design assessment is through studio review as work progresses and final report assessment at the end of the academic year. 'Taught' courses are assessed through various forms of illustrated written coursework - both individual and group. Various forms of formative feedback are provided at a number of key points for all units.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
MA Full-time September 2019 7,500 per Year 1 (Channel Islands) 1 Years
MA Full-time September 2019 7,500 per Year 1 (Scotland) 1 Years
MA Full-time September 2019 7,500 per Year 1 (Northern Ireland) 1 Years
MA Full-time September 2019 13,900 per Year 1 (International) 1 Years
MA Full-time September 2019 7,500 per Year 1 (England) 1 Years
MA Full-time September 2019 7,500 per Year 1 (Wales) 1 Years
MA Part-time September 2019 2,500 per Year 1 (Channel Islands) 2 Years
MA Part-time September 2019 2,500 per Year 1 (Scotland) 2 Years
MA Part-time September 2019 4,630 per Year 1 (International) 2 Years
MA Part-time September 2019 2,500 per Year 1 (England) 2 Years
MA Part-time September 2019 2,500 per Year 1 (EU) 2 Years
MA Part-time September 2019 2,500 per Year 1 (Northern Ireland) 2 Years
MA Part-time September 2019 2,500 per Year 1 (Wales) 2 Years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Main Site PO1 2UP South East

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