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Master's Degree in Urban Design: Art, City, Society

Universitat de Barcelona
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Master's Degree in Urban Design: Art, City, Society

Program description

Master's Degree in Urban Design: Art, City, Society

The master's degree in Urban Design: Art, City and Society addresses the urban project as a catalyst for other actions. While the course focuses primarily on the planning of public spaces, it takes a broad, interdisciplinary approach made possible by the range of specializations of the teaching staff involved, which are reflected in the subjects on offer. The degree structure is built on the principle that research in the area of urban design cannot be carried out in total isolation from research in operational practice. This is also one of the few master's degrees in the field that has a strong component addressing social issues and sustainability.

The degree addresses the specific concept of urban design, which requires a degree of delimitation in order to avoid misunderstanding. Urban design can be defined as the process of shaping the physical conditions for life in cities. In this sense, it is the art of «making the city», involving the design of buildings, groups of buildings, spaces and landscapes, and establishing processes that enable the sustainable urban development.

Regardless of the definition used, the majority of authors who have written on the subject point to four basic characteristics of urban design:

  • It is concerned with the city and its public spaces: the territory in which public processes are played out, as distinct from the processes themselves.
  • Its processes are based on project disciplines and stem from a tradition that can be traced back as far as the Renaissance.
  • It is a highly interdisciplinary field, and this interdisciplinarity is an inherent property of the practices it encompasses.
  • It requires cooperative work by multidisciplinary teams.

The languages of instruction for this program are Spanish: 75%, English: 5%, Portuguese: 20%.

Admission requirements

In accordance with Article 16 of Royal Decree 1393/29 October 2007, students must hold one of the following qualifications to access university master's degree courses:

  • An official Spanish degree.
  • A degree issued by a higher education institution within the European Higher Education Area framework that authorizes the holder to access university master's degree courses in the country of issue.
  • A qualification from outside the framework of the European Higher Education Area. In this case, the qualification should be recognized as equivalent to an official Spanish degree. If it is not recognized, the University of Barcelona shall verify that it corresponds to a level of education that is equivalent to official Spanish degrees and that it authorizes the holder to access university master's degree courses in the country of issue. Admission shall not, in any case, imply that prior qualifications have been recognized as equivalent to a Spanish master's degree and does not confer recognition for any purposes other than that of admission to the master's degree course.

For more information about admission requirements, please visit the university website.

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Program content

The syllabus is divided into modules containing compulsory and optional subjects. Compulsory subjects focus on the planning and configuration of projects in urban design and general research methodologies applicable to urban design and public art. Optional subjects are divided between two modules: Art and the City. On History and Theory, which expands on the general theory content; and Contexts, which offers a range of shorter complementary subjects. Towards the end of the course, students will complete a final project that summarizes the work carried out and provides evidence of the research skills acquired, which is important for those students who wish to continue to the doctoral program.

Tuition fees

For more information about tuition fees, please visit the university website.


The main objective of this master's degree is to equip students with the competences needed to work as a member of an urban design team and to gain a basic level of training for research in this field. As urban design is not a profession but a field of professional activity, it should not be mistaken for architecture or urban planning.

There is no professional association that determines the curricular content for a master's degree of this type or the competences, skills and knowledge that are needed for professional as an urban designer. However, in the framework of urban renewal strategies, the Urban Design Alliance has recently set parameters and established competences for the role of urban designer. These are the competences introduced in the various subjects of this master's degree.

The specific objectives are:

  • To provide operational instruments for urban analysis and projection.
  • To provide content for the construction of a critical perspective on the processes of city-making.
  • To provide methodological tools for successful research.

Continuing studies

The strong research content of the course also enables students to seek admission to the doctoral program and complete additional training in the area of research.

Career opportunities

The master's degree prepares professionals to work as trained specialists in planning, management and production teams in the fields of urban design, urban planning, town and country planning and the planning of cultural management, as well as in strategic planning, community management and the management and production of public art. Students also gain the skills needed to become independent professionals in these fields.

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About this institute

Universitat de Barcelona 

The University of Barcelona, founded in 1450, is a comprehensive higher education institution that presents deep academic tradition coupled with frontier scientific knowledge. It is located in the city of Barcelona, one of the main cosmopolitan hubs in the Mediterranean...

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Why study at Universitat de Barcelona

Why choose the University of Barcelona?

  • It is the top-rated Spanish university in the most prestigious international university rankings.
  • It is among the 25 best universities of the world with more than 400 years of history.
  • It is situated in Barcelona, one of the best university cities in the World.
  • It offers a wide range of course offerings: bachelor’s degree courses, master’s degree courses, doctoral programs and other specific courses and programs.

Contact info

Universitat de Barcelona

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585
08007 Barcelona Catalunya

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