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urban strategies and design msc

The MSc in Urban Strategies & Design is jointly delivered by the Edinburgh School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture (ESALA) and the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society at Heriot-Watt University. This programme builds upon the expertise and knowledge developed in both institutions and is taught by academic researchers with international research experience, links and interests, in a range of urban-related themes and geographical areas. This wealth of knowledge and the use of contemporary pedagogies is integrated into the programme’s delivery. The programme is co-directed by Dr Soledad García-Ferrari and Dr Harry Smith.


The MSc in Urban Strategies & Design encourages the adoption of a comprehensive approach towards the delivery of socially sustainable urban transformation, from local-specific to global-regional interventions. You will study the wide and diverse range of social, economic and political processes that influence the development of the contemporary urban environment. The course also seeks to enable you to acquire the tools and skills to propose urban projects of diverse scales and specificities.


Students on the programme come from a range of multidisciplinary backgrounds and work collaboratively to understand how urban design approaches respond to contemporary urban transformations. This analysis is framed not only from a Western perspective but acknowledges that urban transformations in the urban North are increasing interlinked with activities in the urban South. Course pedagogy involves traditional lectures, seminars, excursions and other relevant group activities.


The programme seeks to address the gap between architecturally driven urban design and higher-level, spatial planning-driven, urban design, bringing together a range of approaches relevant to urban design that are currently being developed within different professional and disciplinary practices, ranging from engineering to human geography.



The Urban Strategies and Design taught MSc Programme aims to engage students in the consideration of strategies and engagement with urban spaces from a contemporary, socio-political and economic context, with a specific focus on design.


The outcomes of the programme fall into several categories, as follows:

  • Knowledge and understanding

  • Skills and Abilities in Research and Enquiry

  • Skills and Abilities in Communication

  • Skills and abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy

  • Technical/practical Skills


The overall objective is to encourage students to gain an understanding of the underlying principles of urban design and how the strategic principles of planning can be applied through taught courses, case studies, and self-selected dissertation research. It also encourages group working and rich peer-to-peer learning, with its student intake from various disciplines. The programme is not intended to provide specialist technical or professional training or qualifications, although it may support future training in this area.   We actively encourage students to work beyond your existing professional and academic skills  to  benefit  most  from  the  Urban  Strategies  and  Design  MSc Programme.

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