City Design: Research Studio

This information is for the 2021/22 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 a fieldtrip.


The Studio course runs for one full day each teaching week in MT and LT through lectures, workshops, small-group tutorials and independent groupwork; 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. 

Teaching arrangements may be adjusted if online teaching is required at any point.

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 fifth Tuesday of Summer Term.

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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 52.5
Merit 47.5
Pass 0
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2020/21: 21

Average class size 2020/21: 21

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

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