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Unit of study_

ARCH9100: Urban Design Foundations Studio

Semester 1a, 2023 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit is to introduce students to key concepts and basic principles in urban design through lectures and studio-based tutorials. By taking full advantage of the neighbourhoods around campus as our laboratory for urban design analysis and intervention, this unit will walk students through deep experiential, historical, and spatial study and engagement with Sydney as a place and urbanity. Through the critical interrogation of selected study areas, this unit will help students understand the urban environment where human beings operate physically, culturally and socially. The studio will engage students with critical thinking, collaborative work and constructive discussion, all of which will serve as the foundation on which the assessments will be based. Emerging out of a process of enquiry about the city, students will develop critical observation, visual documentation, map reading, systematic urban analysis, basic urban intervention, and visual, verbal and written communication skills. These skills will help students to participate with effectiveness in the urban design studios and integrated urbanism studio.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ARCH9100
Academic unit Urban and Regional Planning and Policy
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ian Woodcock,
Lecturer(s) Ian Woodcock,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment group assignment Assessment 2. Urban Design Analysis
Report and presentation
30% Week 05
Due date: 21 Mar 2023 at 22:00
No more than 3,000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Assessment 1. Participation Journal
Progress reports and presentation Submissions Wks 2, 3 & 4 Final Wk 7
40% Week 07
Due date: 04 Apr 2023 at 14:48
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment group assignment Assessment 3. Urban Design Intervention
Presentation and portfolio
30% Week 08
Due date: 18 Apr 2023 at 22:00
No more than 3,000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary


  • Assessment 1. Participation Journal. Your completion of weekly Formative Tasks (fieldwork and engagement notes for lectures and readings) will be recorded as your Participation Journal and assessed as Assessment 1.
  • Assessment 2. Urban design analysis report: Teams may choose a project study area from the list provided by the Unit Co-ordinator, or the nearest suitable area approved by their tutor. Each team will prepare a report which addresses aspects of the study area that should be conserved as well as those which could be improved. Each team will also present the core of their analytical report to the class by using multiple PowerPoint slides. 
  • Assessment 3. Urban design intervention: Each team will choose a) poorly performing sections of streets, b) under-used outdoor public spaces, and c) sites for development within their study area and propose urban design intervention strategies for them. This should align with the vision statement identified in the team’s Urban Design Analysis Report (Assessment 2) and build on further study of the selected location. Each team will present the core of their urban intervention proposal to the class by using multiple PowerPoint slides in studio, and submit a portfolio via Canvas. 


Detailed information for each assessment will be released at the start of Week 1 and will be available on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes assessed.
The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis,
insight, creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning outcomes
assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis,
insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the
learning outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the learning
outcomes assessed.


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed.


0 - 49

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the
learning outcomes assessed.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Penalties for late submission of work and related policies are included in the Resolutions of the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, which are available at

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to Urban Design: URBANITY and the PUBLIC REALM; ACCESSIBILITY, MOVEMENT and URBAN STRUCTURE; Overview of assessments, weekly fieldwork, project sites, allocate groups, schedule fieldwork presentations, cognitive mapping activities Lecture and tutorial (5.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 02 DENSITY, MIXED, URBAN TYPOLOGIES; review progress on group projects (A2 and A3) Lecture and tutorial (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assessment 1, formative task: FIELDWORK PRESENTATIONS (Accessibility, movement, urban structure)(Individual) Presentation (2 hr) LO2 LO4 LO5 LO8
Week 03 URBAN CONTEXT, URBAN CHARACTER; desk crits - progress review group projects (A2 and A3) Lecture and tutorial (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assessment 1, formative task: FIELDWORK PRESENTATIONS (Density, mixed use, urban typologies)(Individual) Presentation (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO8
Week 04 SUSTAINABILITY AND URBAN DESIGN; desk crits - progress review, group projects (A2 and A3) Lecture and tutorial (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assessment 1, formative task: FIELDWORK PRESENTATIONS (Urban context, urban character)(Individual) Presentation (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8
Week 05 ASSESSMENT 2: URBAN DESIGN ANALYSIS Presentations (group work) Presentation (5.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 06 DESIGNING URBAN STRUCTURE; Desk crits - review feedback on Assignment 2 and work-in-progress for Assignment 3 Lecture and tutorial (5.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 07 NO TAUGHT CLASS (work on ASSIGNMENT 3: URBAN DESIGN INTERVENTION) Independent study (5.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 08 ASSESSMENT 3: URBAN DESIGN INTERVENTION PRESENTATIONS (group work) Presentation (5.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School:

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Each student is required to read all readings listed in List A, and at least one reading from List B. 

PDFs of all readings will be made available on Canvas by commencement of Week 1.


1. Alexander, C. (1996) "A City Is Not A Tree", in The City Reader, London: Routledge, pp. 118-131 (orig. 1965)_12pp

2. Marshall, S. (2005) “Street type and hierarchy” in Streets and Patterns, London: Spon Press_pp.45-72

3. Gehl, J. (2011 [orig.1987]) Life Between Buildings, New York: Island Press, pp.129-162_18pp

4. Krier, R. (2003) “Typological and Morphological elements of the Concept of Urban Space”, in

Cuthbert, A. (Ed) Designing Cities: Critical Readings in Urban Design, Oxford: Blackwell, pp.323-339_10pp

5. Ellis, C.W. (1978) “The Spatial Structure of Streets”, in Anderson, S. (Ed) On Streets, Cambridge, MA/London: The MIT Press, pp.113-132

6. Lynch, K (1996) “The City Image and its Elements”, in The City Reader, London, Routledge, pp. 98-102 (originally published 1960)_5pp.

7. Newman, P. Beatley, T., & Boyer, H. (2009) “Four Scenarios for the future of cities: Collapsed, Ruralized, Divided or Resilient City”, in Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change, Washington: Island Press, pp. 35-54_17pp

8. Dovey, K. and Pafka, E. “What is Walkability? The Urban DMA”, Urban Studies, Vol.57 (1) 93-108


Selected chapters from the following books are available on Canvas; Hard copies of the books are available at the Fisher Library:

  1. Lynch, Kevin (1960) The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  2. Jacobs, Jane (1961) The Death and Life of Great American Cities: The Failure of Town Planning. New York: Vintage.
  3. Peter Webber (ed.) (1988) The Design of Sydney: Three Decades of Change. Sydney: Law Book Company.
  4. Katz, Peter (1994) The New Urbanism. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  5. Gehl, Jan (1996) Life Between Buildings. Copenhagen: Arkitektens Forlag.
  6. Shelton, Barrie (1999) Learning from the Japanese City: West Meets East in Urban Design. London: Routledge.
  7. Marshall, Stephen (2005). Streets and Patterns. London: Routledge.
  8. Shaftoe, Henry (2008) Convivial Urban Spaces: Creating Effective Public Places. London: Routledge.
  9. Montgomery, Charles (2013). Happy City: Transforming Our Lives through Urban Design. New York: Macmillan.
  10. Lynch, K. (1981) Ch.11 "Control", in Good City Form, London: The MIT Press, pp. 205-220_14pp
  11. Dovey, Kim & Pafka, Elek (2016) ‘The science of Urban Design?’, Urban Design International, 21 (1), pp.1-10.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the role of group work in developing comprehensive, synthesised approaches to urban design
  • LO2. explain common urban design terms, including context, public domain, street, subdivision patterns, lot, block, building typology, mixed-use, activation, walkability, scale, city, town centre and design process
  • LO3. demonstrate an understanding of building types and explain mixed-use building types
  • LO4. describe and evaluate public domain elements
  • LO5. use mapping to define urban elements and create evidence based urban design analysis
  • LO6. use urban design analysis to define and evaluate urban character and quality
  • LO7. demonstrate the role of comparative analysis and the use of good precedents in defining and explaining urban design
  • LO8. use a combination of written, verbal and visual communication techniques, to explain urban design concepts, elements and principles.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

As requested by student feedback: adjustments to schedule and content to create more time for assessment tasks (fewer readings and lectures, more time between submissions)

Urban design requires a diverse suite of skills including observation, spatial thinking and imagination as well as verbal, visual and other logical and intuitive powers of reasoning. There are multiple modes of learning involved. This unit will work best by consistent engagement with all of the learning activities – lectures, readings, discussions, weekly fieldwork, groupwork, desk-based progress reviews, individual and group oral presentations, independent acquisition of software skills, and regular documentation in the participation journal. 

Additional costs

Some costs may be incurred in the purchase of measure and drawing materials (e.g., measuring tape, trace paper, markers, coloured pencils and highlighters, scale rulers).

Site visit guidelines

Please carry with you your student ID card during field trips.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.