Master of Urban Design
- CRICOS Code: 072812A
What will I study?
The Master of Urban Design puts theory into practice via our suite of studios. Studios emphasise the importance of place and fieldwork in design and studio projects are approached as speculative design-research explorations, where innovation and discovery are combined with advanced geospatial analytics, multidimensional and procedural modelling, and virtual reality technology.
Professional and community involvement play an integral role in our studio experiences.
You will undertake a range of history and theory subjects along with three design studios where you develop your practical, creative skills to apply on real-life urban design problems.
The program covers:
- Urban history, theory and communications;
- Urban design practice;
- Urban planning issues;
- Urban design research.
Students must complete:
- 137.5 points of core subjects
- 37.5 points of electives
- Students also complete 25 points from ABPL90376 Urban Design Thesis, which comprise the degree's capstone experience and provide students with the necessary research preparation for doctoral study.
Sample course plan
View some sample course plans to help you select subjects that will meet the requirements for this degree.
- Semester 1 50 pts
- Semester 2 50 pts
Explore this course
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this degree.
- 25 pts
Students will undertake introductory abstract design exercises in the first half of semester providing the foundation for a major urban design proposition and the development of that proposition for end of semester assessment.
This subject covers an introduction to a broad range of urban design issues and design approaches which may include: the scope, opportunities, complexities and responsibilities of urban design; urban design issues, elements and systems: analytical and design skills for generating and testing alternative approaches to the urban design development of specific sites; the role of urban design within a given spatial, social, economic and political context.
The studio sessions are augmented with lectures and seminars in other subjects devoted to current urban design practice and theory.
- 25 pts
Students will undertake a series of in depth, critical and propositional studio-based design esquisses or exercises leading to a major exploratory urban design proposition. Their design proposition will investigate one or more key urban design issues or approaches in depth.
This subject touches on a range of urban design issues and design approaches including use of urban analytics in the design process, the scope, opportunities, complexities and responsibilities of urban design; urban design issues, elements and systems: analytical and design skills for generating and testing alternative approaches to the urban design development of specific sites; the role of urban design within a given spatial, social, economic and political context.
Students will undertake a series of studio-based design esquisses or exercises leading to a major exploratory urban design proposition. Their design proposition will investigate one or more key urban design issues or approaches in depth.
- 12.5 pts
This subject explores contemporary theories and modes of critique relating to the design of the urban public realm. Emphasis is on how urban physical form responds to the economic, cultural, political, social, aesthetic and natural forces of an urbanised area. Assignments and class papers require students to critically engage with a broad range of theoretical positions, and relate them to local conditions.
- 12.5 pts
This subject covers the legal framework within which urban planning takes place, and the ways in which local provisions (e.g. ‘Planning Schemes' in Victoria) can be used to implement plans by regulating development. It focuses on the legal frameworks and measures used in Australia, with particular emphasis on Victoria, but critically compares these with alternative approaches used in other jurisdictions. The intention is to teach students not just how to ‘operate' the current legal and statutory systems, but also how to change them to produce better outcomes. We begin by considering the role of regulation and laws in the process of urban planning, and the objectives that statutory planning seeks to achieve. We consider the possible tensions and conflicts between these objectives, and the different basic approaches that might be adopted in dealing with these tensions. The course then introduces the framework of planning law and governance in Victoria, comparing it with practice elsewhere in Australia and in selected overseas jurisdictions. The Victorian statutory planning process is covered in detail, addressing the making and amending of planning schemes, scheme administration and appeals. Finally, we consider the relationship between these state systems and other regulatory systems, such as Commonwealth environmental legislation, before turning to the question of possible reform of the Victorian and Australian systems.
- 12.5 pts
This subject explores planning and policy making for productive and competitive urban settlements by investigating the economic drivers, activities, and interrelationships of cities and regions. You will examine how making and moving of goods, services, and jobs shapes the vitality, structure and governance of cities and regions. Complex planning issues, requiring judgements about the competing demands of economic development and social needs, are associated with the growth and decline of sectors and places in their particular urban contexts. Various economic perspectives and examples are used to show and interpret how urban activities and sectors – such as manufacturing, transport, services, recreation, and creative activities – have locational and network impacts within and between cities. Special attention will be paid to comparative analysis and innovation in developing cities and regions, and to the implications of market failures and inequalities produced by economic development activities.
- 12.5 pts
This subject introduces students to the theories, skills and tools used in strategic planning, from problem identification and site analysis; through demographic, economic, and social background research, including GIS; identification of alternatives and policy development; to creating an implementation, monitoring and evaluation plan.
There is a strong international comparative emphasis to this subject, including a focus on 'the real world' of governance in relation to ongoing debates about inclusive, socially just and environmentally sustainable cities.
This subject involves a site visit (field trip) which will run in place of the lecture and tutorial in week three. The site visit is an assessment hurdle requirement and students will be required to cover the local public transport costs.
- 12.5 pts
The subject is an introduction to the contemporary technical tools and urban models that are required in the practice of urban design. The theoretical focus is on contemporary techniques and models that have been generated by architects, landscape architects and planners.
It emphasises links between eras (continuities and change), between ideas and practice, and between urban design and the wider landscape of ideas: special attention is paid to the influence of culture, the role and techniques of urban morphology, and the graphic representation/interpretation of concepts, models and places.
- 25 pts
Students will undertake a series of in depth, critical and propositional studio-based design esquisses or exercises leading to a major exploratory urban design proposition scheme. Their design proposition will investigate one or more key urban design issues or approaches in depth, whilst demonstrating a thorough understanding of the broader implications of their proposal.
This subject integrates a range of urban design issues and design approaches including use of urban analytics in the design process; parametric urbanism; complex adaptive systems; Pareto efficiency; the scope, opportunities, complexities and responsibilities of urban design; urban design issues, elements and systems: analytical and design skills for generating and testing alternative approaches to the urban design development of specific sites; exploring the potential the role of urban design within a given spatial, social, economic and political context.
- 25 pts
This subject is the culmination of each student's studies in Master of Urban Design. It will consist of a number of autonomous studio groups offering a range of opportunities for students to demonstrate an original approach to design synthesis in urban design, which is based on research and critical thinking. These studios will offer an interdisciplinary experience, and in some cases students may be working alongside others in a parallel design discipline.
Students will be expected to demonstrate mastery of conceptual engagement with the shaping of urban space, design resolution, conceptual engagement and aesthetic expression .
With course coordinator approval, high-achieving students may undertake the Urban Design Thesis as an individually supervised design investigation. Similarly, under exceptional circumstances and with course coordinator approval, the design thesis may be undertaken as a written thesis
Urban Design Theory
- Inclusive Cities 12.5 pts
This subject explores different understandings and expressions of social exclusion and inclusion in the city; what these contested concepts mean for urban planning; and how professional practice can respond to fashion inclusive cities. Case studies, working policy and theoretical perspectives are used to highlight key features of planning for inclusive cities, including for specific population groups like youth, aboriginals, the disabled, older persons, refugees and women. Students will examine the lived experience of disadvantage in the city, analyse urban issues through different theoretical lenses and study relevant urban policy and project responses to promote inclusive cities.
- Cities Without Slums 12.5 pts
Urbanization can be a generative force of our time. For the first time in human history, more people live in cities and towns than in rural areas. Around 56 percent of the world’s population is urbanized (2017 figures) and the United Nations predicts that between now and 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people will be born in or move to cities. This opens new and exciting opportunities for social mobility and economic productivity. Citizens and visitors alike in urban areas now have greater access to education, health, employment and transport. However, while cities and towns are recognized as engines of national economic growth and centres of innovation, poorly planned and mismanaged urbanization can further reinforce the already present wicked challenges of poverty, informality, affordable housing, climate change, and inequity.
For instance, it is estimated that one in every seven people (i.e. more than 1 billion people) live in slums and unplanned settlements around the world - lacking affordable and secure housing and basic services such as clean water supply and sanitation. The UN estimates that 227 million people moved out of slum conditions from 2000-2010 yet the number of people living in slums continues to grow. It is projected that by 2030 two billion persons will live in slums.
There is a widening participation of actors and agencies - governments, the private sector, civil society and poor communities themselves becoming crucial players in improving and upgrading existing settlements. Moreover, there is an increasing number of initiatives across sectors to better plan for and accommodate the urban poor’s right to the city, to create better cities for all.
This subject has four underlying themes, namely:
- To explain the process of urbanization, the importance of housing, and policies that give rise to slum formation and the persistence of slums.
- To make use of practice-oriented research, employs case studies from around the globe to explore government-led, community-led, and community/local government partnership approaches to slum upgrading and the delivery of land and provision of basic services in the context of urban governance.
- To examine cross-cutting topics that underwrite inclusive and sustainable, well-managed cities, including regulatory frameworks, security of tenure, housing finance, land use and transport interaction and linkages, and affordable house designs.
- Analyse emerging ‘best-practice’ over the years and the roles of institutions in influencing and/or formulating national urbanization, housing and slum upgrading policies.
- Informal Settlement 12.5 pts
Informal settlement is a process of citizen-driven architecture, urban design and planning that has become the primary form of urban development in cities of the global South. It is a mode of urban production that operates without state authorization yet always in complex relations with formal state control. This subject will provide an introduction to the theories and practices of informal settlement together with a critique of various modes of professional engagement with the challenges of upgrading substandard conditions. The class will engage with the following questions and issues:
- where do informal settlements emerge in relation to the formal city and why?
- How are informal settlements designed and planned in terms of street/laneway networks, building typologies, density, functional mix and public space?
- How are informal settlement practices and forms geared to the livelihoods of the urban poor in terms of informal transport and street trading?
- How does informal settlement relate to sub-standard outcomes including tenure insecurity, services, overcrowding and overdevelopment.
- What professional engagements with upgrading and redevelopment practices are possible.
This is a fundamentally interdisciplinary subject that connects architecture, urban design and planning with landscape, property and construction. There will be scope for students to explore disciplinary specific topics within the subject.
Urban Design Practice
- Environmental Systems 12.5 pts
This subject provides a coverage of the different systems significant in the design of buildings, which are described in terms of 3 interlocking systems: human, mechanical and natural systems.
- Concepts of environmental comfort: heat, light and sound
- Occupational Health, Safety and Environment
- Post-Occupancy Evaluation
- energy efficiency, alternative energy sources and energy management
- active solar heating and cooling systems;
- electrical, telecommunications, transportation and building management systems;
- air-conditioning system designs; refrigeration, heating and air handling plants;
- façade design, natural ventilation and mixed mode systems;
- displacement ventilation, evaporative cooling and radiant cooling systems;
- special servicing conditions
- acoustical design and noise control
- passive design techniques for buildings
- waste and water treatment techniques, WSUD (water sensitive urban design)
- green infrastructure and ecological services
- integrated greenery – green roofs and vertical greenery
Sustainable building standards like Green Star and NABERS will also be introduced and used in the discourse of the lectures.
- Building Sustainability 12.5 pts
This subject provides a multi-disciplinary overview of the design of sustainable buildings and considers the design from an architectural, services engineering, facade engineering, environmental engineering and structural engineering, tenants and owners perspective. Topics include: ecological sustainable design, life cycle analysis, planning for sustainable buildings and cities, regulatory environment, barriers to green buildings, green building rating tools, material selection, embodied energy, operating energy, indoor environmental quality (noise, light and air), facade systems, ventilation systems, transportation, water treatment systems, water efficiency, building economics, and staff productivity.
A number of industry based case study examples will be introduced to complement the lectures.
- Advanced Computational Design 12.5 pts
This subject focusses on computational tools, processes, and theories for architectural design. The topics covered range from basic scripting for design automation and fabrication to the application of optimisation and machine learning techniques for performative design.
This is not an introductory subject to computational design. It builds on previous knowledge of design thinking and computational design tools, processes, and applications.
- Land Use and Urban Design 12.5 pts
Urban design is concerned with the shaping of public space at multiple spatial scales from lanes, streets and squares to the neighbourhoods and districts of the larger metropolis. This subject emphasises the development of urban design knowledge that is of value to urban planners and other related professionals, while critically reflecting on urban design as it is practised. Students will develop understandings of the nature of urban design, and the roles of other professionals in relation to it. The fundamental qualities of urban places are examined from an urban design perspective. These understandings form the basis of skills development in using planning tools to achieve desirable urban design outcomes. An integrated program of lectures, studio workshops, fieldwork, and teamwork provide the basis for developing urban design understandings. Students will undertake hands-on urban design work, while reflecting critically upon the role of urban design, and the manner in which planning and urban design are interconnected.
- Contemporary Digital Practice 12.5 pts
This subject focuses on impacts of digital technologies on professional practice and services. It explores issues such as emerging forms of professional practice, status of professional knowledge and skills, use and value of digital information in design, and digital fabrication and assembly of contemporary buildings. The subject involves guest lectures by practicing designers and case studies of real projects.
- Design Communications Workshop (P/G) 12.5 pts
This subject introduces graphic skills appropriate to design and building. These skills are taught through a series of constructed and freehand drawing assignments essential to the design thinking process. Graphic skills are developed through tutorials and lectures which are held in the studios and outdoors. Emphasis is given to the development of orthographic and perspective drawing, delineation and representation of form and volume.
- Constructed Ecologies 12.5 pts
Constructed Ecologies engages with the key principles of ecology as a fundamental requirement for landscape architectural practice. Typical topics include biodiversity, soils, changing rural ecologies, wetlands and stormwater design strategies including water flows, environmental history informing design, and performative design. The focus is on ecosystem function. The course emphasises foundations of ecology, suburban design, and designing with water. The course will address case studies from around the world as illustrations of ecological principles informing design.
- Regenerative Sustainability 12.5 pts
The majority of sustainable practices are pursued within the ‘mechanistic’ or eco-efficient orientation of sustainability where measurement and reduction is the primary focus. This subject turns the sole focus of ‘doing less harm’ on its head, and proposes a radical new direction for sustainable development – one that is focused on fostering socio-ecological connection and thrive-ability across communities.
The subject will include a series of lectures exploring ideas of Indigenous knowledge systems, biophilia and biomimicry, ecological design, regenerative development, placemaking and contributive design. Students will take part in a series of seminars and site visits (documented through bi-weekly reflections), and have the opportunity to apply their learnings to an existing project in Melbourne
- Ecology for Design 12.5 pts
This subject explores the principles of ecological systems. It will introduce basic ecological concepts and fundamental ecological systems, and their applications in landscape design. It will include plants and biomes, soils and water, spatial geometries, emergence, resilience, and the ecological performance of designs in relation to design speculations.
- Flexible Urban Modelling 12.5 pts
This elective focuses on integration of geospatial data into iterative, procedural, rapid and large-scale design modelling, using a range of emerging tools including GIS, 3D modelling, CIM (Civil Information Modelling) and associated scripts and plugins. In this subject you will develop methods to model and interact with complex built form, difficult terrains and integrate social, environmental, and ecological data into your design decision-making.
This subject offers an opportunity to build upon prior skills and interest in areas such as biomorphic/organic form making, 3D printing, photogrammetry, agent-based simulation, particle systems, material editing, online mapping, GIS analysis, motion graphics and performance-based design. It is recommended for students of urban design, landscape architecture, and architecture.
Subject note: In 2021, this subject will be taught through Blended Synchronous Learning (BSL). Meaning it will be available in both an online and on campus format. Whether learning remotely or in person it is highly recommended you have the following equipment available to you:
A PC (Windows Operating System) desktop/laptop that complies with the MSD recommendations with a webcam, headphone and microphone please refer: https://msd.unimelb.edu.au/current-students/student-experience/it-support
You will predominantly use Autodesk software’s 3ds Max and Civil3D which is available free to students https://www.autodesk.com/education/free-software/featured
Quantum Geographic Information Systems (QGIS) is also free software, and can be downloaded using the following instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q61LSk9n3U8&list=PLxhO2rXtBrKEwCHRYXXs8aQ3SswxXOTR8&index=2&t=0s
ArcGIS Pro is available through request for a licence. Please contact IT
Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) can be accessed through MyUniApps or can be purchased on monthly basis.
Most other plugins and scripts are available free though we are also in the process of sourcing / negotiating home licences for others for which the university has licences.
- MSD Vocational Placement 12.5 pts
A vocational placement accompanied by academic objectives that is supervised by a Melbourne School of Design staff member. The vocational placement will enable the student to gain applied experience and reflect on the experience, both theoretically and in an applied manner.
This subject is available to students who have completed at least 100 points of study within a Melbourne School of Design coursework masters (with the exception of Master of Architecture students).
Students are responsible for identifying a suitable work placement prior to enrolment. Send the details, including written approval from their course coordinator to firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks before the start of semester.
Before enrolment students are required to complete all the steps found at https://edsc.unimelb.edu.au/graduate/subject-options/internships-vocational-placements. This should be completed at least 2 weeks before the start of semester.
- GIS In Planning, Design & Development 12.5 pts
This subject introduces the concepts of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and its application in landscape architecture, urban planning and development. It will:
- introduce the origin and development of GIS respect to landscape architecture, urban planning and development;
- introduce basic GIS concepts, data structure, data format, and data management;
- introduce fundamental GIS operations such as digitising, overlay analysis, spatial analysis, hydrological analysis, 3D analysis, etc.;
- address key issues of applying GIS in planning, design and development, such as landscape capacity and suitability analysis, urban heat island analysis, water sensitive urban design, property management, etc.;
- place how GIS will facilitate site analysis, inform decision making and improve efficiency and productivity in planning, design and development.
The subject will be delivered through lectures/guest lectures, lab tutorials, workshops and practical sessions synthesising dominant themes in this fields of using GIS as tool to achieve sustainable design and ecological landscape planning.
SUBJECT NOTE : In 2021, this subject is taught online and on campus (dual delivery) . To allow for this the student needs the following:
Software Requirement: ESRI ArcGIS 10.7 will be used. Students can request ArcGIS 10.7 via the online chat service 'Ask a librarian' https://library.unimelb.edu.au/contact_the_library#chat (available during library opening hours). Students will be provided license code and instructions for download and installing the software on their own computer.
Hardware Requirement: ESRI has recommended hardware requirements. Specification of hardware requirements can be found at (https://desktop.arcgis.com/en/system-requirements/10.7/arcgis-desktop-system-requirements.htm)
- Building Resilient Settlements 12.5 pts
This subject explores the notion of resilience and its application to the planning, design and management of urban settlements at various scales. The notion of resilience is related to the capacity of systems to adapt to disruptions without them changing to entirely different states, which in the case of human settlements often results in catastrophic consequences for the inhabitants. The subject will explore approaches for enhancing existing settlements, as well as creating new ones, to be better prepared to confront future environmental changes, both predicted and unpredicted, as they occur, with a focus on changes associated with climate change, such as increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, as well as more gradual changes, such as rising sea levels. Students will explore ways of decreasing the vulnerability of urban settlements to these types of risks and while at the same time promoting sustainable development through planning and design interventions.
- Building the Brief: People Process Place 12.5 pts
This subject provides insight into the design briefing process for a range of facilities, with a specific focus on learning and health environments. Key issues addressed include how to effectively engage with users/occupants of buildings, collect data about their organisational objectives, activities and spatial requirements, and strategically link such information to the work of architects and other design consultants.
The subject examines evidence-based design, effective planning processes that include stakeholder engagement and consultation, change management, spatial literacy, and workplace cultures and pedagogies. Participants will develop skills associated with developing strategic briefs that translate organisational objectives and patterns of activity into spatial requirements, including affinity and relationship diagrams.
- Robin Boyd Studio 12.5 pts
The Robin Boyd Foundation's Walsh Street design studios explore the public role of an architect. They provide an opportunity for students to be better equipped theoretically and practically and to develop critical thinking around architectural design in an urban context and the role of good design for the community.
The design studios are a five day residential program that involve an intensive design studio culminating in design presentations by participants with critique by the studio tutors, invited guests and project stakeholders. The project requires an architectural design response within a strong urban context on a site of high government and city importance.
Participants will be expected to work in groups, share knowledge and participate in discussions and pin-ups - the emphasis is strongly on participation. Professional Architects from Melbourne will be invited to participate in some of the pin-ups and crits.
Participation in the Robin Boyd Foundation's Walsh Street design studios will encourage students to consider and develop their awareness and skills in:
- the public aspects of architecture - the impact of buildings on streetscapes, neighbourhoods and community;
- communicating architecture - the presentation of ideas and concepts in an articulate and accessible manner;
- the collaborative nature of the production of architecture.
Costs: Standard course fees apply for students current enrolled in a university. Other members of the community can enrol via the Community Access Program (CAP) - only available via CAP in “assessed” mode.
In addition, all students will be required to pay an additional accommodation and meals levy to the Robin Boyd Foundation.
- Urban Informatics 12.5 pts
Urban Informatics is the study of cities using digital data, information, knowledge and models to understand trends, complexities and inform the formulation and evaluation of sustainable urban futures.
This subject aims to arm the student with the necessary fundamental concepts and practical understanding of the rise of the Smart City and how urban informatics can assist in evidenced-based and collaborative decision-making.
The new science of cities (Batty, 2013) is driven by the deluge of data that enables the mapping of the Smart City and new geographies that can be explored, analysed and synthesized. Planners, geographers, urban designers, landscape architects, spatial scientists and other disciplines interest in the urban settlements require a deeper knowledge of digital data and how to access, interrogate, visualize and synthesis such data to realise the vision of the smart and sustainable city.
This subject utilises the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) portal as an e-learning resource for exploring what is possible in emerging in the new discipline of urban informatics. Students will also be exposed to a range of other complementary digital environments including open data repositories, urban modelling and visualisation tools and open source geospatial information technologies.
- Design for Ageing 12.5 pts
Demographic ageing is creating a shift in how to think and define homes, cities and public spaces. This subject explores feasible and sustainable approaches to keep the older segment of the population physically and socially active. Innovative changes in design can lead to significant advancements in service delivery, transportation models and homes that allow people to age in place. In addition, design principles for dementia and palliative care are a few of the many concepts that help minimise stress on people as they age and their families. Students will explore these topics and develop their own ideas about the way design can optimise the ageing process for comfort, security and overall well-being.
- Designing for Heat in the Public Domain 12.5 pts
The implication of climate change on the liveability of cities is becoming increasingly apparent. This seminar explores the issue of heat and thermal comfort in the design of the public domain.
This intensive is open to design students (architecture, landscape architecture and urban design) and planners. We will explore the potentials of contemporary digital tools (simulation, Rhino and grasshopper) and data (including sensors and real-time) combined with current theoretical writings crossing climate change science, cultural studies and digital design to develop innovative design and planning responses.
Students will research and explore a range of techniques including data capture, the use of simulation software and engage critical analysis of design precedents to produce a design proposition for a site in Melbourne which responds directly to the issues of a warming climate.
- Design for Diversity 12.5 pts
The 8 80 Cities concept suggests that cities designed for the needs of 8 and 80 year olds work for all ages. In addition, communities benefit from facilities that are located, configured and shared in symbiotic ways.
In this intensive students will interact with an inner-city council and other professionals to imagine an age friendly future where design for diversity is embedded into every neighbourhood.
The studio is open to students of architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and planning, who will work together to address challenges which no one discipline can easily answer:
- How do we decide the optimal density and mix of development for a precinct?
- Can design help to build community and enable ageing in place?
This intensive explores the benefits of diversity – mixed uses, demographics, typologies, scales, characters, ownership, development processes and design teams. At its heart is the opportunity to engage with real inner-city situations.
The format in the first fortnight will typically consist of tutorials and presentations from expert practitioners each morning followed by independent and group work each afternoon. There will then be a week to finalise propositions and present the work.
The first week will be research-focused, with students working in multidisciplinary groups to generate insightful analyses. Each student will then develop individual propositions specific to his or her discipline.
- Place Making for The Built Environment 12.5 pts
Placemaking is a worldwide movement focusing on the process, development and design of public or shared semi-private places through the active participation of the citizens. The aim of placemaking is to achieve place attachment which is linked to positive citizenship, health and safety. This subject outlines and critiques the placemaking process in relation to the long-term benefits of place. The subject is based on case-studies, and provides lectures and practical exercises on the critical steps of placemaking. Topics include: governance and community engagement strategies, negotiation processes, place evaluation, integrating nature into place and the economics of place. Different models for placemaking will be explored such as tactical urbanism, guerrilla urbanism, creative placemaking and regenerative placemaking. The subject has been written by the Place Agency Consortium, a group of five universities working towards enhancing place co-creation capacity in students and industry.
- Environmental Impact Assessment 12.5 pts
This subject prepares students for environmental management roles by providing them with the principles of how human impacts on the environment might be detected and managed. The principles will be placed within the legal and social contexts of environmental impact assessment. At the completion of the subject, students should understand three aspects: prediction of the kind of changes that might occur with human activities; the design and implementation of proper monitoring programs that can detect changes; and assessment of those changes. Additionally, a strong emphasis is placed on the practical implementation of principles.
- Interdisciplinarity and the Environment 12.5 pts
issues are often complex, controversial, and associated with uncertain knowledge. In this context, this subject explores the ‘knowledge challenges’ faced by environmental professionals, and strategies for addressing these challenges. Particular attention is given to collaboration across disciplines and sectors in generating, integrating, communicating and applying knowledge for environmental decision-making and management. Through case studies of knowledge partnerships, we examine the context, forms and functions of knowledge production and use for environmental policy and management questions. Incorporating perspectives from a broad range of environmental professionals and academics, the subject draws on and develops students’ practical skills for engaging and working with different types of environmental expertise.
The subject focuses on the following main questions:
- How are different forms of environmental knowledge produced, applied and evaluated?
- In collaborating across disciplines and sectors, and with communities and stakeholders, what are the challenges in evaluating, framing, integrating, communicating and managing knowledge?
- What skills and strategies can assist environmental professionals in addressing these challenges?
Urban Planning Issues
- Healthy Communities 12.5 pts
In recent years, there has been a greatly increased interest in the impacts of the built environment on health and wellbeing. At present, spatial inequalities in regards to access to jobs, affordable housing, social services, and healthy food results in a greater burden of disease for particular social groups and in particular geographic areas. Many of the health problems in cities today, including obesity, violence, and depression, are linked to poor residential and recreational environments, lack of access to jobs and social services, and low social cohesion. Urban decision-makers like planners and designers influence physical, social, natural, cultural, and economic environments. They therefore have a key role in ‘planning health in’, rather than ‘planning health out’, of communities.
This subject will provide a local and international background into current policies and practices related to pursuing health and well-being objectives as a central part of urban planning work. It will cover: the influence of planning over key health determinants, international good practice, the current legislative framework, and Health Impact Assessment. A strong skills focus will ensure that planners, designers and other professionals are able to assess existing sites, plans, and policies from a health perspective.
- International Property Development B 12.5 pts
A series of case studies conducted in different countries or different c cities, over two intensive weeks (either the Japan/ Hong Kong stretch or the China stretch). Case studies are to be carried out in groups. They will cover a range of property, construction and infrastructure topics including project inception, project finance, project valuation and appraisal, urban planning policies and permits, project procurement and delivery, construction planning and management, construction technology and services, construction methods and equipment, construction and leasing contracts, and associated legal matters.
Candidates are required to arrange and pay for their own travel, accommodation and incidentals. The travel cost would be about AUD 3000 (AUD 1500 for travel and AUD 1500 for accommodation, food and local travel - for either of the countries). One preferred / recommended budget accommodation option in each of the cities will be provided.
Note: This subject includes a pre-teaching period. During the pre-teaching period students are expected to complete the course readings, review the lectures and any other course preparation as outlined on the LMS. The LMS will become available at the commencement of the pre-teaching dates.
- Public Transport Network Planning 12.5 pts
This subject explores skills required for transport planners who wish to improve the economic, environmental and social performance of urban transport systems. It draws on international experience and research to articulate the principles and practical techniques in two key areas:
- Public transport planning and network design; and
- The preparation of regional multi-modal transport plans.
This subject includes a half-day field trip involving use of public transport services in a chosen suburban region of Melbourne. This trip will be undertaken in small groups in week 3 and is a hurdle requirement. Students will require a valid Myki card, and the cost will not exceed a daily ticket in Zone 1.
- Urban Transport Politics 12.5 pts
This subject explores the politics of transport planning in cities and regions. It examines recent examples of transport planning in Australian cities and globally with a particular emphasis on how patterns of mobility and automobility have come to influence transport planning decisions. A dilemma is exposed between the political-economy and social desires to maintain automobile-dependency and the challenges this presents for ecological sustainability and social equity in the contemporary city and region. Urban transport politics brings to the foreground the changing roles of the public and private sector in the funding, construction, maintenance and operation of urban transport networks and the implications this has for the city and its people.
The subject examines a series of case studies that showcase the politics of transportation planning. Case examples will enable students to explore in-depth recent examples that showcase the changing political, economic and governance landscape shaping transportation planning. This includes such case studies as: contested tollway and light rail projects in Australian cities and internationally, the rise of car-sharing platforms and the anticipated roll-out of autonomous vehicles.
The subject is delivered in seminar form with readings, lectures (occasional guest lectures) and presentations from students. Students are encouraged to bring their ideas and views into class discussions
- Urban Sustainability and Climate Change 12.5 pts
This subject was previously known as Planning Urban Sustainability.
Humans have altered the earth's natural environment to such an extent, that scientists are considering the determination of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Climate change is one of many indicators of these significant human driven changes to the environment.
This subject will provide students with an understanding of the key factors contributing to changes to natural and built environments, and their centrality to urban planning activities. Students will critically analyse the complex interrelationship between environmental processes, climate change, urban change, sustainability goals and urban planning policies. Current urban planning issues including: sustainability, climate change, resilience, and vulnerability will be critically analysed and applied to current and future problems. Local and global examples will be drawn upon. This approach will equip students with the capability to propose urban planning solutions to address climate change and facilitate urban sustainability.
Through completion of this subject students will be provided with exposure to cutting edge urban planning approaches to address climate change and sustainability. Students will be well prepared to take elective subjects which focus in detail on environment, resilience and sustainability topics.
- Introduction to Transport and Land Use 12.5 pts
This subject was formerly called Transportation, Land Use and Urban Form
This subject examines the linkages between transport systems and the growth and form of urban regions. It introduces the theories linking transport systems to the urban footprint, and reviews some empirical analysis of those theories. The subject also traces the evolution of theories connecting transport and land use as they have evolved over time. The timeline of this subject begins in the 1950s and extends to the present.
This subject also introduces some of the tools used to evaluate and manage land use and transport systems, introduces strategies for integrated transport and land use planning, and examines empirical evaluations of these strategies. Major debates in the topic area are addressed. The subject develops students’ ability to apply and critically analyse the theories, tools, and strategies used in transport and land use planning, and to propose alternatives and innovations to those strategies.
This subject is taught in a seminar format. The format will include two hours of weekly guided discussion during which students are expected to have prepared to discuss several readings. There is also a one-hour lecture in which major skills-based topics are explained. These include accessibility modeling, the four-step transport model, and benefit-cost analysis.
- Planning Theory and History 12.5 pts
Current practices of urban and regional planning have emerged as a human response to the range of circumstances surrounding settlements over time. This subject provides students with a grounding in the main theories of planning over the last two centuries as a means of understanding present-day planning practices and debates in an historical context. Accordingly, students will develop understandings of the contexts in which planning emerged as a response to concerns with a range of circumstances over time. These include: public health, technological change, environmental degradation, economic development, social justice, and conceptions of order and aesthetics. An integrated programme of lectures, readings and tutorials provide students with the materials to answer a series of related questions that chart the development over time of planning. The evolving responses to the enduring questions of planning, such as: ‘what is planning; why plan; how to plan; and what or for whom do we plan?’ are charted over time. The Australia response, in an international context, is emphasised to provide a critical lens upon current Australian planning, providing a basis for subsequent subjects in the Masters of Urban Planning Program.
- Housing Markets, Policy and Planning 12.5 pts
The subject concerns housing issues.The provision of housing is presented as a complex system of interplay between construction, finance, real estate and bureaucracy (and others). It considers the challenge of providing good homes to all all within the context of consistent under-supply over decades and a policy preference for private sector delivery.
This subject has four components
- The structure of housing provision. The roles and interplay between parts of the housing system including how markets work; the roles of developers, financiers, consumers and government; how the housing market works; supply, demand, role of property developers and the role of banks (including the growth of financialisation).
- The contribution of housing form and planning for housing to the workings of cities.
- The implications of market failure for certain population groups.
- Low-income housing policy (e.g. social housing).
- Participatory Planning 12.5 pts
Urban governance and citizen participation influence both the structure of the planning process (e.g. who participates, and how and when they participate) and the built environment outcomes produced from this process. All practitioners who work in local and regional environments (built, natural, social) need to be aware of the strategies and techniques that can be employed to elicit involvement from the public and private sector, and the modes of governance that shape citizen and stakeholder participation at different scales of government and at different points in the planning process. This subject will impart to students the skills involved in encouraging and managing participation in the overall governance and planning of urban regions.
These skills include:
- Understand the concept of urban governance
- Understanding the influence of different forms of urban governance on processes of citizen participation
- Understand the nexus between the public and private sectors and civil society in planning for and managing cities
- Understand the role of local, State and Commonwealth government, the private sector and civil society in delivering and financing infrastructure and services
- Encouraging and managing citizen engagement using different participatory tools
- Understanding and assessing different characteristics of urban conflict
- Negotiation, mediation, consensus-building between government, the private sector and civil society in complex situations with deep value differences
- Have insight into comparative governance contexts through case studies from other countries
- Evaluation of citizen participatory processes
There will be considerable reliance on hand-on exercises based on case studies from Melbourne and around the world. The subject aims to be relevant to urban and social planners, landscape architects, urban designers, architects, property professionals, community developers, and environmental activities.
This subject replaces ABPL90315 Urban Governance, and was previously known as Participation and Negotiation.
- Urban Environmental Policy and Planning 12.5 pts
The subject covers the essential science needed to understand the impacts of urbanisation on the environment, describes environmental policy and governance from the global to the local levels, and then provides case studies of environmental planning issues and responses. Topics such as urban water management, urban greening and urban biodiversity are presented and discussed in an integrated manner addressing policy, planning and implementation.
- Energy & Carbon in the Built Environment 12.5 pts
Cities are responsible for more than 70% of energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions. The operation of buildings alone represents around 40% of energy use in many developed economies. Reducing energy use and transitioning towards zero greenhouse emissions in the built environment is therefore critical to sustain the Earth’s ecosystems and the general environmental equilibrium of the planet. This is further recognised by the UN sustainability goals, namely Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. With a growing world population, most of which going to live in cities, addressing this current and upcoming challenge is paramount.
The aim of this subject is to equip students with the skills and knowledge required to analyse, quantify, visualise and improve the energy performance of buildings, neighbourhoods and cities, at different scales of the built environment, towards zero greenhouse gas emissions.
This subject is designed to capitalise on the multi-disciplinary nature of participants. As such, it uses active discussions, interactive problem solving, peer review and group work, among other teaching and learning activities. In addition, the major assessment task is designed to allow for a significant amount of flexibility as you will be able to determine the focus of your own assignment. You will also be able to vote to determine subject content towards the end of the semester.
- Bushfire Urban Planning 12.5 pts
This subject sets out the key mechanisms by which land use planning can reduce the risks associated with human settlements located in bushfire prone areas. It begins with an overview of bushfire as a natural hazard that occurs in particular landscapes, and the ways that human settlements interact with these to result in spatial and locally particular risk outcomes.
The ways that urban planning mechanisms can influence risk levels in bushfire prone areas are explored. First principles of planning intervention techniques are set out, followed by a detailed explanation of relevant elements of Victorian planning processes. Current regulatory approaches suitable for the treatment of bushfire risk in Victoria are a core learning outcome for the subject, in parallel with developing understandings of the inter-relations between building, planning, response and land management agencies related to bushfire risk reduction.
- Sustainability Governance and Leadership 12.5 pts
Sustainability Governance & Leadership (SGL) is one of two core subjects for the Master of Environment course, and is designed to develop the knowledge and skills you will need to succeed as a sustainability leader in a world of complex challenges and global change. This subject provides you with a strong foundation in interdisciplinary understanding of critical concepts and issues, and how they relate to policy, management, leadership, and governance in a range of contexts and across different scales and sectors. You will learn to anticipate and envision environmental change, and design and implement strategic plans to manage impacts or create positive pathways.
Exploring the broad agenda of sustainable development, SGL considers concepts and principles fundamental to the understanding of interdependent human-nature systems, including ecology and biodiversity, social justice and equity, technology, and issues of global change. SGL covers:
- Different perspectives on sustainability;
- Global and local environmental challenges, including for water, energy, food, and human communities in relation their natural and built environments;
- Vulnerability and resilience in complex social-ecological systems;
- The processes of policy design and implementation in these areas;
- The economics of sustainability, and the role of business and innovation in building a sustainable future; and
- Recurring management, governance, and leadership issues for achieving environmental sustainability.
SGL includes extensive use of scenario-based learning and simulation activities.
- Comparative Urban Planning 12.5 pts
This subject will introduce students to the range of perspectives on urban planning systems and cultures offered by different disciplines. In a first half, political science, geography, history, business and urban planning disciplinary approaches to the aims and methods of comparison of urban planning systems will be examined. In the second half of the subject, a series of case studies of the main features and legal basis of different national planning systems and cultures of particular nations will be presented depending on staff availability and expertise. These national case studies are intended to illustrate the contrasts that exist in planning systems and cultures across the global north and south. The subject is intended as the basis from which to explore the other subjects available in this specialization.
- City Leadership 12.5 pts
City leadership is at the heart of some of today’s major global challenges. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #11 aims to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” Cities are at the heart of global challenges, from climate change to health, inequality and economic development, and have become active participants in proposing solutions to address these.
This subject focuses city leadership, the institutions and trends that underpin it, and a set of strategic skills needed to deliver effective urban governance in the wake of these international challenges. The business of managing ‘who gets what, when and how’ in cities is becoming an increasingly complex and international job that goes beyond the purview of locally-oriented urban managers. Instead, it is intertwined with the agendas and influence of private sector, academia and community groups. The politics and governance of cities is changing the world over: from a leadership and brokering role played by private actors, the emergence of entrepreneurial and global cities, to different dynamics in emerging regions in the South, and the importance of international agendas and geopolitics in influencing the future of cities. The course offers students a space where to engage with these changes, learn practical leadership skills, and do so in collaboration with a ‘resident’ international organisation (e.g. a UN agency) collaborating with University lecturers in the delivery of the course content.
City Leadership stimulates students to engage with these themes by offering practical, hands-on, tool for ‘new’ urban management for students pursuing both public and private sector careers. It puts an emphasis on responsibility and collective leadership as key skills for today’s urban practitioners, whilst encouraging sound academic research in urban governance. The course is designed to build capacity with students to take up leadership as a ‘strategic’ activity in urban governance with an explicit international focus to support the development of a globally oriented practice of city leadership.
- MSD Research Project Short (12.5 Points) 12.5 pts
ABPL90066 MSD Research Project Short (12.5 points) is designed to produce a 5,000-word ordered, critical exposition of knowledge gained through the student's own efforts, demonstrating a sound understanding of a topic of their choice. Regular meetings with a supervisor allow the student to obtain advice and guidance for completion of an independent study. Material prepared in any of the following subjects is expected to form an integral part of the final research report:
ABPL40041 Research Methods (Honours)
ABPL90070 Research Methods (Masters)
ABPL90135 Analytical Methods
NOTE: In addition to meeting the required perquisites, students who wish to enrol in this subject should find a supervisor first and get approval from the course coordinator before enrolling in this subject
- Analytical Methods 12.5 pts
This subject surveys some methodological approaches that are relevant to analysis of urban systems and urban planning processes. Students will be equipped to analyse both primary and secondary data, understand and apply essential principles of both qualitative and quantitative methods, and identify the context for their appropriate use. Students will be trained to critically assess shortcomings of data sources and methods, and consider the impact this has on the conclusions drawn. Overall, the subject facilitates the development of skills and knowledge regarding the use, collection, analysis, and representation of information. This will be utilized in future subjects and practice as planners. It is divided into three parts:
Part 1. Universal Concepts in Research
Part 2. Quantitative Research
Part 3. Qualitative Research
- Design Research 12.5 pts
This subject will introduce students to a range of creative research methods. As distinct from traditional ‘quantitative research’ (classical scientific research method involving systematic collection of verifiable data) and ‘qualitative research’ (in-depth inquiry into human perceptions used in social sciences often involving interviews) ‘creative research’ is a relatively new methodology. In this subject we follow de Bono’s definition that creativity involves lateral moves sideways in contrast to the logical, linear thinking inherent to traditional research methods. We follow the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of ‘research’ meaning investigation or inquiry into things. The focus of our creative research will be uncovering new knowledge that can lead to the generation of imagined futures for designed environments.
Note:Students will be required to prepare installations, models, designed assemblages and drawings, as well as written essays during the course. Additional costs should be minimal. Recycling, reusing and scavenging of materials is positively encouraged. And digital presentations are allowed in lieu of costly printing for most presentations.
- Representing Spatial Information 12.5 pts
Representing Spatial Information is the study of conveying insight gained through geospatial data and information. Upon completion, students will be able to communicate complex relations and insights through visual storytelling and concise graphics.
This subject will introduce students to fundamental concepts in spatial information and provide a practical understanding of the rise of the Smart City and how spatial information can assist in evidenced-based and collaborative decision-making.
Students will also be exposed to a range of digital environments, including open data repositories, urban modelling and visualisation tools and open source geospatial information technologies.
- Spatial Analytics 12.5 pts
Spatial Analytics is the study of geospatial digital data, information, knowledge and models to understand trends, complexities and inform decision process. The subject explores approaches at the intersection of spatial information, statistics and spatial analytics to further students’ understanding of the built environment.
The new science of cities is driven by the deluge of data that enables the mapping of new geographies that can be explored, analysed and synthesized. Studies of urban settlements require a deeper knowledge of digital data and how to access, interrogate and synthesis such data.
A range of research methods will be taught in combination with case studies to provide fundamental skills in Python, spatial analysis and sharpen critical spatial and analytical thinking. At the end you will have a set of Jupyter Notebooks in Python that can be deployed in future cases such as health, urban planning and real estate for evidence-based decision making.