WPCS 2.1.2
Tuition Fees:$4,360 for the full programme
Part-time Study:2 Years
Applications Begin:January 2021
Final Award:Masters in Urban Design (MUD)
Start Date:January 2022
Academic Unit:Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
Campus:West Campus
Course Type:Master by Coursework & Research
Application Deadline: 30 April 2021
Programme Overview

The MUD qualification is a two-year part-time programme on urban design. The focus is on the design of cities in South and Southern Africa, drawing from other precedents globally.

In a diverse and complex context, urban design relates closely to architecture, planning and landscape architecture, and other disciplines, to produce a unique focus on the design of spaces for people. In the diversity and complexity of South African cities, there is a need to understand how spaces operate socially, culturally, politically and economically in order to design places for people.

The degree has a number of core theoretical courses which are practically applied in design studios. The core courses introduce students to understanding cities of the global south in order to appreciate the context within which we design. The theories and histories of urban design provide the tools, precedents, examples, and appreciation of urban design in cities through time.

Professional Practice allows students to develop an understanding of how to run an urban design practice, as well as of the mechanisms, regulations and procedures required for the implementation of projects. The core courses are applied in practical ways in urban design studios where the student is exposed to projects involving the preparation of designs in response to context. Research forms a large part of the programme.

The MUD Programme aims, through a number of courses, studio sessions and research, to enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding and a set of skills needed for addressing complex urban challenges. This set of skills would enable students to work at a certain prescribed level and to gain experience in what is an increasingly demanding built environment profession.

Students should, at the conclusion of the two-year programme, demonstrate their combined knowledge base of urban design, theory, functional planning, technical development, programming, environmental responsiveness, graphic skills and writing abilities at a high level of sophistication and independence. As an end product students should have a comprehensive portfolio of work, manifested in the Masters of Urban Design Research Report.

The broader aim of the MUD Programme, through the studio and research environment and with guidance from tutors, is to equip students with the skills to create appropriate urban environments, to create an urbanity that is both an expression of dignified human values and a context for human activity and development.

Through a design-orientated process and theoretical discourse, students will address the interrelated environmental, behavioural, and cultural issues that underlie the organisation of our cities. Students will be called upon to direct sensitivity, imagination, intellect, and increased levels of professional judgement to the physical significance of these fundamental issues in designing a coherent urban environment for people.

Urban design, and the development of a design methodology across all scale levels, and its underlying theoretical base, will be the focus for the Studio and Research Courses.

The programme, therefore, is based on the following intentions:
– To stimulate the enquiry into the urban condition, addressing it through creative design solutions and reporting on it through a comprehensive research process;
– To strengthen intellectual growth and the capacity to develop creative and responsible solutions to unique and changing urban challenges;
– To ensure that the student acquires the individual capabilities and confidence in their design methodology for the practice of urban design;
– The production of a self-motivated urban design research report, integrating theory, research, design, technology, analysis, representational skills, and proposed implementation.

The Course has a pluralistic approach to the teaching of urbanity and urban design. Students have opportunities to become well acquainted with a wide range of approaches and methodologies. The course does not seek to impose any singular design philosophy, but rather encourages in each student the development of an individual approach to design, based on clear and well-reasoned arguments resulting in a comprehensive Research Report.

The principal task during the Masters of Urban Design course is the development of a design and research methodology, which would enable the student to deal with varied interrelationships found in the urban condition. Achieving a level of comfort and confidence to deal with complex challenges across all scale levels via analysis, design and research is the primary challenge over the two years of the course.

The design studio is paramount, emphasising the sometimes competing interrelationships between purpose, design, research, analysis, collaboration, innovation, and strategies in an environment that values experimentation.

The studio offers a workshop in which students can gather to present and discuss projects and proposals with fellow students, staff and visiting critics, professionals, and even if possible affected stakeholders of projects and the public.

The design studio combines individual and group instruction, varying from desk critiques with the course convener and the supervisors to presentations before several tutors, to more formal exams and final reviews before school and guest critics, with the intention of fostering critical thinking and spatial form-making skills, and preparing development framework proposals.

The studio provides a laboratory in which the various course requirements and tasks; research methodologies; histories and theories; visual representations and studio assignments are fused together to achieve a comprehensive approach to urban design. This process of exploration offers the opportunity to conduct detailed research, develop formal design methodologies, formulate strategies and design appropriate responses to each project.

Each studio brief, as well as the Urban Design Research Report, has its own goals and associated criteria, some of which will involve group and teamwork. The process includes site visits, interaction with the community, research into a contemporary and historical precedent, critical investigation of intervention opportunities and options, and the exploration and development of detailed projects.


ARPL 7010 Cities of the South | Course credits: 20

This course is aimed at understanding the many forces that shape cities of the South. These include development processes (legal, formal and informal economic), governance issues, environmental issues, transport, land use, infrastructure, services, power and politics (macro economics, structural adjustment, questions of sovereignty, gender, poverty, and inequality), as well as the discourses of modernity, globalisation and post-colonialism.

This course further explores the main dynamics and processes that shape cities in the contemporary era and key challenges experienced. It considers the major international development agendas for urban development, and their implications for urban planning. The evolution of approaches to urban development planning is discussed and contemporary approaches are evaluated. The course includes a study of both international literature and literature with a focus on the South African urban context.

ARPL 7011 Urban Design Theory and History | Course credits: 20

Cities have been compared to slow growing organisms, ordered in such a way that growth and change can be accommodated over time. This course aims to introduce students to principles of city structure that accommodate change and flexibility. These principles are implicit in South African cities but can only be recognised and uncovered through analysis of how cities evolve and change in the course of time. Students learn to trace the consequences of urban decisions: some remaining visible and others of which no trace remains. The course includes the study of international cities, also with structuring principles that have withstood change.

Throughout the course, the following theoretical aspects of city making throughout history will be considered:
– History of urban form
– Basic principles in urban design
– Urban Morphology – the patterns of change over time and the forces that create such change
– Spatial relationships in the built environment
– Processes and methodologies in urban design
– Urban networks (including movement systems, infrastructure, and experiential networks)
– The role of the natural environment and local context on city making
– Changes and adaptations of cities.

ARPL 7059 STUDIO 01: Accessible Cities | Course credits: 15
ARPL 7059 STUDIO 02: Transforming City Studio | Course credits: 15

The Studio 01 and 02 consists of one project brief with two different outcomes over the duration of the second and third quarter. Studio 01 focuses on the larger urban scale, dealing with issues of urban accessibility; socio-economics; informality; migration, immigration and asylumseeking; movement and transportation; inclusion and exclusion; human rights; gender issues; children, the aged, and groups with special needs; and poverty.

This studio adopts the position that space-making is a political act. The design of space, especially in emerging democracies such as South Africa, is premised with political agendas. These agendas can range from progressive and utopian, to repressive and unjust. It is our obligation to be mindful of the relationship between space and political agendas. The studio will aim to explore ways in which critical thinking and considered design can facilitate particular political positions.

The Studio 01 objective is also to address the larger scale urban infrastructural issues, bulk services and development rights’ opportunities in projects.

The Studio 02 continues with the same investigation but in far greater detail, focusing on a number of urban principles such as permeability, variety, legibility, robustness, visual appropriateness of a precinct, and site specific scale.

Both Studio 01 and 02 focus on the Sandton and/or Rosebank CBDs as case studies.

ARPL 7057 Urban Design Professional Practice | Course credits: 10

The course introduces students to tools, strategies, and regulation in preparation of an urban design project. These include: town planning regulations, different forms of implementation (public/private partnerships), procedural development, coding and conservation guidelines, and developmental rights.

This course will further develop an understanding of the complexities of urban planning and design. We will focus on various urban design principles and approaches, and analyse how these can improve the physical environment, in relation to the public good it serves, including safety, wellbeing, sustainability and even beauty.

The first part of the course will focus on the theoretical principles of good urban practice and methodology, and the second will be presented as a series of seminars with practitioners, to demonstrate that theoretical ideas and ideals are realised in practice.

The following practitioners will be contributing to the course: Pierre Swanepoel, Gary White, Gerrit Viljoen, Paul Carew and Henri Comrie, and others.

ARPL 7059 STUDIO 03: Global Studio: Maputo | Course credits: 15

This studio stimulates the student to bring together different aspects of the Masters of Urban Design programme, with a specific focus of the understanding of context. To achieve this, the studio deals with the preparation of an urban design analysis and project in an urban site in the City of Maputo, providing a somewhat different context from the South African city. Students gain an understanding of the opportunities and challenges of working outside of South Africa.

The students are introduced to the context, history and urban structure of Maputo, before visiting that city. The objective is to analyse and understand a particular and possibly unfamiliar site, presenting unique opportunities, constraints and challenges. It requires students to investigate and propose a relevant development strategy, and determine design solutions.

ARPL 7062 Master of Urban Design Research Report | Course credits: 90

The urban design research report represents the culmination of the competencies gained during the Master of Urban Design programme. The primary aim of the course is to facilitate the production of a self-motivated urban design research report, integrating theory, research, design, technology, analysis, representational skills, and proposed implementation.

An urban design research report is more than a major studio project. It is required that each student put forward and investigate a personal position about urban design and the built environment, and to do so through solid research and analysis, written text and an urban design proposal.

The theoretical discourse or enquiry, which is articulated in the proposal and developed throughout the year, is expected to result in a spatial design strategy. Based on this strategy, and an evaluation process of the enquiry, a proposed spatial design for a chosen site is to be developed. The outcome of this design process is therefore a response to the evaluation of the enquiry and its related findings. In that sense, theory and spatial design are an integrated and iterative process.

The research report is an opportunity for each student to enquire into and focus on a chosen aspect of urban design. The writing of the research report provides a stimulus for the exploration of ideas and critical issues, deemed important by the student.

With this in mind, all candidates are advised to take a longer-term view, while preparing their research report. The preparation should not merely fulfil the immediate course requirements. Rather, it should be structured by each individual in such a way that it supports the quest for life-long learning.

ARPL 7040 Urban Design Research Methodologies | Course credits: 15

This course is an essential guideline for students to establish a methodology towards a research topic. Students are assisted in developing a research proposal and provided with an understanding of the various proposal components. This course also assists with the establishment of a relevant research question and position statement. Students are directed to relevant precedents and case studies to allow for comparative research. Applying design thinking to real-world research forms a critical component of the research methodology and the eventual compilation of an MUD Research Proposal.

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements
Applicants holding any of the following, or comparable, degrees are eligible to apply:
– BArch
– BAS (Hons)
– MArch (Prof)
– BSc (TRP) or BSc (Hons) (URP); or
– MSc (Landscape)

Applicants are required to have a minimum of 65% average in their honours or equivalent year. Prior learning may also make a candidate eligible for admission as a candidate for the degree, as determined individually by the Senate.

Application Process
Application Fees for South African & SADC Students: $12
Application Fees for International Students: $12

How to apply
– Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
– Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
– Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal, view academic application status, accept an offer (once certified hardcopies have been received by SEnC), apply and check residence application status, and generate a fees estimate.
– Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications ma only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Career Opportunities

Some career opportunities are;
– Sustainability consultant.
– Civil Service administrator.
– Environmental manager.
– Community development worker.
– Developmentsurveyor.
– Planning surveyor.

Tuition Fees Details
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Tuition Fees for South African & SADC Students: $4,360
Tuition Fees for International Students: $4,360

*Students from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries pay the same annual tuition fees as South Africans plus an International Registration Fee (IRF). The SADC member countries are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
*Students sponsored by the Government of Rwanda will be treated as and pay the same amount as SADC students.
*Students from all other countries (Non-SADC) will pay the same amount as South African Students
*Diplomats and their dependents stationed in South Africa & International Wits employees and their dependents will pay South African tuition fees + International Registration Fee (IRF).


Alison Todes

Diaan van der Westhuizen

Monica Albonico

Solam Mkhabela

Pierre Swanepoel

Kevin Goncalves

Gary White

Mphethi Morojele

Prof. Paul Jenkins

Ludwig Hansen

Marie Huchzermeyer

Relevant Contact

Ludwig Hansen
MUD Convener
Siphokazi Makhaye
Postgraduate Administrator