MA in Sustainable Urbanism

We believe development that follows the principles of sustainable urbanism allows communities to live better at local level, and start to deal with the broader global challenges of urbanisation and climate change.

header ma sustainable urbanism

Level: Postgraduate

Duration: Two years 
Part-time (for EU students only)
Full-time (only mode available to non-EU students)

Overview: The MA in Sustainable Urbanism aims to train next generation of architects and designers who will be tasked with evolving traditional architecture and urbanism in response to the global challenges of climate change and urbanisation.


The Prince’s Foundation works on urban development around the world and has unrivalled contacts in government and industry, built up since our first educational programme in 1990, and in over 20 years of practice worldwide. The Foundation’s own teaching staff have a world of practical experience in projects across the globe.

This programme explores what sustainability means in an urban context, and what place-making can contributes to cities, whilst challenging accepted wisdom in architecture and urban planning in a supported learning environment. The programme is ideal for students who want to engage with the practice of sustainable urbanism, including its design, research, engagement, and critical context, as informed by the Foundation’s international programmes.

The programme is delivered through a variety of means including weekly seminars, group and private tutorials, workshops, placements in industry, your own research projects, participation in community engagement, and practical exercises, many of which are tied to the Foundation’s live projects around the world.

Students are encouraged to develop their own specialisms further within the course, through their own research and reading. Assessment is through research papers, set essays, reflection papers, and a dissertation. There are no written exams.

The programme features 20 hours/week in placement (or stay in your existing job) allowing you to learn while gaining experience within the industry - as well as earning your way through the course. Regular placement providers include Transport for London as well as leading architecture practices in London.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

A Culture of Building: The first three weeks of the first year is spent in a full-time summer school taught by visiting and in-house lecturers and tutors. Students work alongside The Foundation’s Building Crafts Apprentices. The final week is a design project for a small building, built by the Building Crafts Apprentices later in the year. Students are assessed on a written reflection and portfolio of their work during the module.

Practice of Sustainable Urbanism: In their first year, full-time students are attached to one of the departments of the Foundation, and spend 3 days a week working alongside professional practitioners and technical staff on live projects forming part of the Foundation’s work around the UK and abroad. Part-time students can take the module in placement with their existing employer, and by attending weeks at the Foundation to work on group projects. All students also spend a week tutoring in the Summer School under the guidance of teaching staff. Students are assessed on an analytical reflection report reflecting on sustainability practices in the placement, and a portfolio.

Contemporary Debates on Sustainable Urbanism: The module is taught in 3 1/2 hour seminars held weekly during term time. Each class consists of a lecture on a contemporary controversy or recent research finding, delivered by an in-house or visiting lecturer, chosen for their expertise in areas of practice that are tackling contemporary challenges. Lectures are followed by a structured tutorial session attended by the lecturer and led by Foundation teaching staff. Students reflect on these debates through formatively and summatively assessed essays.

Community Engagement: This module builds on the experience of attending Enquiry by Design and other public consultation events - held by the Foundation around the UK and abroad - to introduce themes of representation, engagement, participation and legitimacy in design processes. Students produce an analytical business-style report reflecting on their experiences, the policy situation, and their own research.

Sustainable Urbanism Elective: Each student undertakes a special project, developing a research or design project from inception to completion, with support from academic staff within the department. In the past these have included special research reports and publications on special subjects. Students give a research seminar in the Summer Term and are assessed on that and their research paper.

All MA students complete a Sustainable Urbanism Major Project. During the second year, students find placements in practices and organisations whose mission is aligned with the course’s aims. Students use this placement as a springboard to prepare a dissertation equivalent to a written text of c. 16,000 words with drawings and other documentation. If a dissertation includes significant design work, the text may be varied by prior agreement on an individual basis. The placement is not assessed, but is expected to inflect the written dissertation, with the main assessment being by a Graduate Seminar, given in Spring, and a research paper.

The Prince’s Foundation works on urban development around the world and has unrivalled contacts in government and industry, built up since our first educational programme in 1990, and in over 20 years of practice worldwide. The Foundation’s own teaching staff have a world of practical experience in projects across the globe.

This experience allows us to open doors that are not easily accessed, drawing in speakers who are leaders in their own fields. In past years these have included Anna Minton (author of Ground Control), Andres Duany (Duany&PlaterZyberk), Andrew Cameron (WSP), Dr Susan Parham (author of Food and Urbanism), Dr David Howard (Oxford), Dr Fran Tonkiss (LSE), Professor Bill Hillier (UCL), and other prominent practitioners and theorists.

The course director Dr Matthew Hardy, an architect, urban designer, and editor of The Venice Charter Revisited, is co-founder and co-editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Urbanism published by Taylor & Francis, specialising in international research on place-making and urban sustainability.

Small class sizes and extensive tutoring in groups and one-to-one with the Course Director help you produce your best work, whilst the programme’s emphasis on professional development through placements is ideal for those looking to kick-start, or develop a career in the industry.

The programme enables graduates to work in a range of professions, developing the skills they brought with them, and leaving able to tackle new challenges. The focus on learning in placement has ensured a near 100% record of employment of graduates of the programme, with our Alumni working for Transport for London, universities, NGOs, and architecture and urban design practises. Many have stayed on in their placements after graduation, turning it into a first major career. Others have returned home to set up their own consultancies or to work in major international firms.

We welcome applications from students across the EU who have completed a first degree (or Part I) in any of the following:

  • Planning or urban policy
  • Landscape design
  • Urban design
  • Architecture
  • Surveying
  • Engineering
  • Or related areas

We will also accept applications from entrants without one of these qualifications who have acquired experience through work or other means and can satisfy staff responsible for admissions of their ability to succeed in the programme. We have taken many students from other backgrounds who have done well on the course. (have excelled on the programme)

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency (IELTS score 7.0).

UK/EU Students: £6,250 per annum
Overseas Students: £10,000 per annum (FT)

Fees are payable in monthly instalments. Students in a paid placement arranged by the Foundation will have these deducted at source. Most EU students are able to pay their way through the programme from their paid placements*, but we also offer some bursaries for those with special needs. Please enquire via the contact details listed on this page.

*Placements are limited to 20 hours/week during term time for non-EU students. 

The programme can also be taken as a one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Urbanism or a part time Postgraduate Certificate in SustainableUrbanism. The first year is usually taken as a part-time course while you stay in your current job.

Applications are currently closed for this programme

When we assess your application we look at the following:

  • Why you want to study Sustainable Urbanism at postgraduate level
  • Why you want to study at the Prince’s Foundation
  • What your understanding is of the issues affecting the future of urban development
  • Where you would like to go after graduation
  • How you will cope with the academic and practical aspects of this demanding programme.

Your cover letter, essay and portfolio of past work are of vital importance in assessing your application.

We have undergone a Higher Education Review (Plus) by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and have received its final report, which is available in full at:

We have received the following judgements from QAA:

  • The maintenance of the academic standards of award offered on behalf of degree-awarding bodies and/or other awarding organisations meets UK expectations.
  • The quality of student learning opportunities meets UK expectations.
  • The quality of the information about learning opportunities meets UK expectations.
  • The enhancement of student learning opportunities meets UK expectations.

The QAA identified the following features of good practice at the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community:

  • The Foundation's holistic approach to learning and teaching, which enables and encourages students to integrate different theories with the demands of progressive professional practice (Expectation B3).
  • The Foundation's continuing review of its curriculum, with the aim of achieving a steady development and enhancement of student learning opportunities (Enhancement).

The programme is validated by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The Foundation’s students will be enrolled at the UWTSD for the duration of the programme.

If you have any queries, would like to visit us, or meet current students, please contact:

Matthew Hardy, Programme Director


T: +44 (0)20 7613 8520