School of Art, Design and Architecture

MA Smart Urban Futures

Smart urban futures is a unique and innovative new MA programme that will equip you to address design challenges at the boundaries between smart technologies and urban design and planning. You will gain skills in IoT, smart technologies, open data, 3D fabrication, augmented reality and virtual reality complimented by core teaching in urban design, planning and placemaking.

Through a design lab approach, you will develop digital prototyping and place-making projects that respond to the opportunities and needs of digital living, transport, health, mobility, governance and sustainability in a holistic approach to smart urban futures.

Key features

  • Unique programme in emerging field of smart urban futures.
  • Digital and spatial skillset that synthesises digital and smart programming and urban design and planning skills.
  • Addressing real urban challenges through a design lab approach.
  • Co-design working within multi-disciplinary teams with external partners.
  • Delivering innovation through social responsible approach.
  • Focus on entrepreneurship and innovation delivered in conjunction with Future Entrepreneurship Centre at Plymouth Business School.
  • Embedded within research excellence of smart cities and digital art and technology with internationally recognised academics.
  • Career development and employability integral to the course through partnerships with industry and public sector partners.
  • State of the art equipment including immersive visualisation and fabrication lab.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • Based in a lively well-supported studio environment, the programme will develop skills in digital and urban design. This will be set within a critical framework to appraise the application of these technologies to urban contexts. There will be a close cooperation and link with industry, the public and the third sector and the focus of your work will be on real-world problems and scenarios.

    Semester 1
    Design Studio 1 (30 credits): Studio projects designed around students working to a series of briefs on projects within a ‘real world’ context. Group and individual work.

    DAT Urban Dataplay (30 credits): Core theory and skills in digital technology and design. In the programme students will use a range of software and technologies such as Unity3D, online data, mobile phones, IoT sensors, streaming media, Ardunio, Lilypad, Raspberry Pi, Processing, projection mapping, 3 D fabrication etc to explore and innovate in the field of smart technologies, interfaces and IoT.

    Semester 2
    Design Studio 2 (30 credits): Studio projects designed around students working to a series of briefs on projects within a ‘real world’ context.

    Futures Entrepreneurship (30 credits): Developing and understanding for entrepreneurship in design fields. Students will be expected to identify the exploitation and innovation potential of their work in a collaborative manner and explore how this can catalyse an entrepreneurial journey. The Module will also offer a programme of mentorship and networking with key practitioners and innovators. This module is run in conjunction with the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, Faculty of Business.

    Semester 3
    Research project (60 credits): This module enables students to develop work from the design lab with a level of depth and breadth and addressing a real world issue. The research project allows students to demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, to act entrepreneurially in planning and implementing a project working with a range of partners. The research project will enable students to move directly into their chosen area of work, whether this be research, employment, a startup or consultancy.

    Core modules
    • SURF701 Design Lab I

      Design Lab I is a creative space to develop ideas and responses as to how to design for smart urban futures. The Module applies urban design approaches to the integration of Big Data, Internet of Things, Physical Computing and AR/VR. Students will address briefs that invite them to design new forms of interaction with cities and digital technologies. They will work with a range of technologies to prototype design solutions that address real-world socio-spatial urban issues, opportunities and challenges. Design Lab adopts a co-design approach where students work with external partners from city planning, industry, tech startups, third sector and community groups on shared outcomes. Design Lab I outcomes will be digital prototyping and place-making projects that respond to the opportunities and needs of Digital Living, Transport, Health, Mobility, Governance and Sustainability in a holistic approach to smart urban futures.

    • SURF702 Urban Dataplay

      Through practical project work the module explores the opportunities offered by Pervasive Media (ubiquitous and immersive), the emergence of Big Data, Internet of Things and the application of Physical Computing, Augmented Reality within the city. Projects are framed within a playful exploration of cities as a cultural, social and technological phenomenon, through exploring the potential of digital interfaces to support interactions between cities, people and data. Projects will prototype interventions within the urban space that explore new forms of interaction with data within the city, based on addressing real world challenges.

    • SURF703 Design Lab P

      Design Lab P is a creative space to prototype and test how we design for smart urban futures. The Module applies urban design approaches to the integration of Big Data, Internet of Things, Physical Computing and AR/VR. Students will address briefs that invite them to test and implement new forms of interaction with cities and digital technologies. They will work with a range of technologies to prototype design solutions that address real-world socio-spatial urban issues, opportunities and challenges. Design Lab adopts a co-design approach where students work with external partners from city planning, industry, tech startups, third sector and community groups on shared outcomes. Design Lab P outcomes (which develop out of Design Lab I ideas) will be digital prototyping and place-making projects that respond to the opportunities and needs of Digital Living, Transport, Health, Mobility, Governance and Sustainability in a holistic approach to smart urban futures.

    • SURF704 Futures Entrepreneurship

      This Module is aimed at developing students¿ entrepreneurial abilities by providing a programme of support for developing innovation in the emerging area of smart urban futures. Students will be expected to identify the exploitation and innovation potential of their work in a collaborative manner and explore how this can catalyse an entrepreneurial journey. The Module will also offer a programme of mentorship, guest contributions and networking with key practitioners and innovators. This Module is run in conjunction with the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, Faculty of Business.

    • SURF705 Research Project/Dissertation

      This module enables students to develop work from the design lab with a level of depth and breadth and addressing a real world issue. The research project allows students to demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, to act entrepreneurially in planning and implementing a project working with a range of partners. The research project will enable students to move directly into either their chosen area of work, whether this be research, employment, a startup or consultancy.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA Smart Urban Futures Programme Specification 2018 19 6326

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Normally a 2:1 degree from a UK University or equivalent and evidence of a sustained engagement with the field. But we will consider students below 2:1 if they can demonstrate a strong academic portfolio or a record of professional experience. IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent required for overseas students. 

Applicants will be required to submit an outline of their experience together with a 500 word contextualisation statement. (If required, applicants may also be asked to attend an interview either in person or through a remote link up if international students).

The University also has substantial experience in supporting mature students and welcomes applicants in this category. Applicants with APL will be considered on an individual basis according to the University Regulations Framework. Students interested in transferring postgraduate credits will be considered on merit and current University regulations regarding transfer of credits from other institutions will apply.  


Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £8,000 £8,240
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

How to apply

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September, with some January starts also available. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full. 

Before you apply

Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance.

Disability services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail.

If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Email: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk 

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

People

Institute of Digital Art and Technology (iDAT) 

i-DAT is an Open Research Lab for playful experimentation with creative technology.

We co-create and share technological prototypes and practices, that push and challenge the boundaries of digital arts and creative media practice. Our main focus is on making ‘data’ tangible, playable and readily available as a material, to generate new meaning and inform participation, audience engagement and innovation in the arts.