University of Portsmouth

University of Portsmouth

Sustainable Cities

This course aims to form professionals capable of responding to the needs of planning and designing sustainable communities and cities. There is a growing need for more urbanised areas, better places for the human existence and a diminished ecological footprint. It is expected that nearly 70% of the world's population will be living in cities by 2050, while cities are now responsible for 80% of our CO2 emissions. This leads us to an apparent paradox; the need for more urban environments and, on the other hand, the need to reduce our demands on nature. In this context, the role that cities, and those involved in their planning, will play in the future of mankind is absolutely crucial. Building on our university-wide Cluster for Sustainable Cities, the MA Sustainable Cities draws from the expertise of leading experts in a variety of disciplines. You will explore new systemic and integrated solutions for cities, leading towards greener, healthier, more inclusive and resilient environments.

Entry requirements

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 may 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 2018 GBP 13,200 per Year 1 (International) 1 Years
MA Full-time September 2018 GBP 6,500 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 1 Years
MA Part-time September 2018 GBP 4,400 per Year 1 (International) 2 Years
MA Part-time September 2018 GBP 2,170 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 2 Years

Campus details

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

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