Urban Design Programme

The research degree programme builds on the combined teaching and research strengths in the faculty to provide high quality research training in the field of Urban Design, grounded in theoretical thinking and practical approaches.

The School of the Built Environment is internationally recognised as being at the forefront of Urban Design research.

Our Joint Centre for Urban Design (JCUD) has a mission of promoting better design in the urban public realm and unites the host of disciplines involved in the design of urban spaces including: architecture, town planning, landscape architecture, estate management, traffic engineering and others.

Our Urban Design Group is one of the core research arms of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development and one of the largest UK providers of research expertise in urban design and conservation matters.

Research topics

Many of our staff members are actively engaged in research and have led or contributed to reviews of national planning, transport, housing and environmental policy guidance, sustainable building specifications and valuation standards which presently affect our town and country environments. This expertise includes but is not limited to the following areas relevant to thesis proposals in the field of Urban Design: community development, place making, place identity; urban morphology, urban coding; Masterplanning, townscape appraisal, town centre management; responsive environments, sensory urban design, aesthetic dimensions of urban design; urban regeneration, rehabilitation of historic centres; sustainable urban design, conservation of buildings and historic areas; children and the built environment, public open space design and management; chaos and fractal theories.

Degree Types

The degree for which research students register depends on academic qualifications and research experience. Generally students will follow one of the following routes: MPhil, or MPhil with transfer to PhD, or PhD. The award of PhD by published work is only open to candidates who have had some prior association with Oxford Brookes University. The Graduate office deals with all matters of registration and enrolment.


The Urban Design Research Degree Programme brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts from which supervisory teams will be formed. These include:

As well as supervision, the Urban Design research degrees programme incorporates research training which has been acknowledged by the ESRC. This doctoral training also forms part of a Masters in Research programme. The School is therefore recognised for the receipt of ESRC 1+3 and +3 studentships and Case awards and for studentships from other UK research councils, including AHRC, EPSRC and NERC.