City Design: Research Studio

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Madden STC S209 and Dr Dena Qaddumi STC S212


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 examines the interconnections between the social and the spatial dimensions of city life. 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, political projects, 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 approaches design as a practice for shaping urban environments and responding to urban problems as well as an imaginative form of research that can shed light on the social, political 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 an analysis of key examples of transformative urban design in London and beyond, and group-based fieldwork in a London site.


The Studio course runs for one full day each teaching week in AT and WT 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 AT Week 6 and WT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One group presentation on site analysis and research. (AT)


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

The assessment consists of:

  • One group submission (6,000 words, 50%)
  • Individual tutor assessment based on contribution to group work (25%)
  • Individual assignment (3,000 words, 25%)

An electronic copy of the individual assignment, to be uploaded to Moodle, is due in WT. 

An electronic copy of the group submission, to be uploaded to Moodle, is due in WT. 

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

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2022/23: 25

Average class size 2022/23: 23

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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