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The Department of Civic Design

The Department of Civic Design - the world's first planning school - has two main roles: as a centre of excellence for innovative and influential research and scholarship; and as a leading provider of high quality professional education.

The Department focuses on the planning of cities and regions and interprets Civic Design in a broad sense to include:  

•           Analysis
•           Design
•           Policy formulation
•           Management and governance. 

The Department is housed in its own building - the Gordon Stephenson Building - which overlooks the attractive Georgian Abercromby Square from the corner of Bedford Street South and Cambridge Street.

What Makes the Department Distinctive? 

Several factors account for the Department’s distinctive identity:

A leading force in planning education and research
The Department is an international leader in planning education and scholarly research. Its early entry (1909) into the field meant that the Department exerted a fundamental influence on the development of planning as a profession and of planning education in particular. The Department has sought to maintain this position throughout its history and it continues to be a well respected source of new ideas and best practice that are central to the discipline amongst the planning community at large.

A prestigious journal: TPR
The Town Planning Review (TPR), edited in the Department, is a leading international journal renowned for its rigorous editorial standards. Pitched at the mainstream of planning, rather than catering for niche interests, TPR gives the Department high visibility and intellectual kudos amongst a broad international audience of academics in the planning field.

Interdisciplinary research
The Department has, over the last thirty years, developed an international reputation for interdisciplinary research. The emphasis is on advancing the development and application of new planning and spatial analytical methods, and the research draws on concepts and techniques from economics, geography, demography and statistics, as well as from planning itself. In the last five years the Department has extended the scope of this work to include environmental assessment methods and public policy analysis with notable success. The Department has also established  fruitful  collaboration with natural scientists on the development of integrated approaches to the planning and management of water catchments and marine areas.

Engaging with practice
The Department places a high priority on engaging with the leading edge of professional practice in planning and related areas of public policy. Links with professional practice are cultivated selectively in areas and with organisations that have the potential to foster innovative research and teaching. Two contrasting examples serve to illustrate this point: work on water-related topics, including estuary management, coastal planning, marine spatial planning and river basin planning; and on issues of social inclusion connected with economic inactivity, intergenerational exclusion and economic migration. In these and other fields of public policy the Department’s work has been highly influential in regional, national and international contexts.

A unique brand
The Department’s brand is a unique asset. Civic Design is the only university department in the world to bear that name and the Master of Civic Design (MCD) is the only taught postgraduate degree with that label. Both are exceptionally well established and recognised as such. The fact that there are nearly sixty years of MCD graduates,  together with growing numbers of Civic Design MA , MSc, MPlan and BA graduates working in the field means that there are extensive networks promoting the Department throughout the world.

The broad scope of this activity inevitably means that both research and teaching in the Department are characterised by multi-, and inter-disciplinary perspectives. It is normal practice, and indeed essential, for staff in Civic Design to work closely with colleagues in other disciplines, including geographers, biological scientists, demographers, civil engineers, architects, urban designers, public policy specialists, economists, social policy specialists and management researchers.

A first rate student experience
Everything considered, Civic Design provides a stimulating place in which to undertake undergraduate and postgraduate study.  The Department prides itself upon its lively community of undergraduate and full-time and part-time postgraduate students, including one of the largest groups of planning-related research students in the UK.  Our aim is to provide a supportive learning environment which enables students to develop their academic and professional competence and personal skills for future employment and/or further study; and to enable them to become reflective, independent learners with an interest in lifelong learning.

For more information about the Department, go to Department of Civic Design

Department of Civic Design