City Design: Research Studio

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Suzanne Hall STC.S212 and Dr David Madden STC.S209


This course is compulsory on the MSc in City Design and Social Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The City Design Research Studio is the central unit of the MSc programme, linking the critical issues raised in the core and optional lecture courses, including questions of power and social justice, with the practical analysis of issues of city design and proposals for urban intervention. This course promotes a practical understanding of the city as a social and built environment. Through a mixed-methods engagement with site-based issues, the research studio explores the different ways city design relates to policy formation, planning processes, legal frameworks, financing mechanisms, local forms of organisation and the emerging needs of complex urban societies. It will provide students with an appreciation of the complexities of urban design and development processes, and with interdisciplinary tools for addressing specific urban challenges. The course addresses design as both informed and imaginative modes of research and practice that shapes urban environments, responds to urban problems, and connects visual, social and material dimensions of the city. It aims to integrate the physical, economic, social and political aspects of urban contexts, and develop ways to analyse these visually, textually and verbally. The studio-based approach to learning is an immersion in site-based research and experimental, strategic and pragmatic forms of design intervention. The course comprises of group based fieldwork in a London site, followed by an international  fieldtrip.


The Studio course runs for one full day each teaching week in MT and LT through lectures, workshops and regular small-group tutorials; additional specialist seminars and workshops are scheduled throughout the Studio course. Studio groups are expected to work together during the scheduled Studio hours, and prepare collectively for regular workshops and tutorials. In MT, the Studio course focuses on methods and approaches of social and spatial research and analysis. In  the first four weeks of LT, Studio groups work intensively on a detailed analysis of a specific urban context, and develop a practical proposal for intervention in that site. The last six weeks of LT comprise of an international field trip, and individual work on a related written assignment.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6 and LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Group presentations for faculty and guest critics. 1 x research presentation and site analysis. (MT)


Group exercise (50%), group exercise (25%) and assignment (25%).

The assessment consists of:

  • One Studio group submission (6000 words, 50%)
  • Individual tutor assessment based on contribution to Studio group work (25%)
  • Individual field trip assignment (3000 words, 25%)

Two hard copies of the Studio group submission, with submission sheets attached to each, to be handed in to the Sociology Hub, STC.S116, no later than 4.00pm on the fifth Thursday of Lent Term.

An additional electronic copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 4.00pm on the same day. Both hard copies and electronic copies must be submitted on time to avoid any late submission penalties.

An electronic copy of the assessed individual field trip assignment, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the eleventh Thursday of Lent Term

Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 36.6
Merit 62
Pass 1.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: 16

Average class size 2018/19: 10

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills