BA Urban Planning and Design


Program Description


The BA/BEng Urban Planning and Design programme offers students the opportunity to study both local and international urban and rural landscapes in a dynamic and supportive learning environment. Students will be able to equip themselves with knowledge and skills to analyse, critique and, ultimately, contribute to the sustainability of urban and rural development both in China and around the world. On completion, students will be able to work in sectors such as urban planning, urban design, city management, central and local government policy, consultancy, and real estate development.

Urban planning and design students learn how to formulate strategic plans, design liveable spaces and create public places. You will consider the social, economic and environmental needs of a town or city and the impact of those on the built environment, helping companies and governments make difficult decisions on the use of land including whether to develop, what to develop and how to develop. In recent years, urban planning and design has become particularly concerned with the preservation and impact of the natural environment, for example, how we deal with the growing pollution in our cities and concerns about natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. Other concerns include the scarcity of land and how to achieve an efficient and effective use of space. The rate of development in China means that good planning is essential. The BA/BEng Urban Planning and Design programme at XJTLU is international in focus and has been designed to help students appreciate the similarities and differences between planning in China, the UK and other countries throughout the world.

Why Should I Study Urban Planning and Design at XJLTU?

  • Our globally competitive, professional programme is unique in its focus on both local Chinese and international planning systems and urban design practice
  • You will be offered a range of learning experiences such as interactive studios, field surveys and local and international field classes and design workshops
  • The Department of Urban Planning and Design offers a supportive learning environment which encourages you to become an independent active learner and critical thinker
  • Gain transferable skills that provide a platform for success in your future study or employment in planning and urban design-related fields
  • Earn two degrees: an XJTLU degree from the Chinese Ministry of Education and a globally recognised degree from the University of Liverpool, a member of the Russell Group of leading UK universities

Knowledge and skills

On successful completion of the BA/BEng Urban Planning and Design programme, you will be able to demonstrate:

  • knowledge and understanding of the natural, economic, socio-economic and political factors that are shaping our surroundings
  • knowledge and understanding of how the built and natural environment is managed in different places around the world
  • an understanding of the role, scope and limitations of contemporary town and regional planning in contributing to the management of growth and change, and the conservation of the built and natural environment
  • knowledge and understanding of the legal basis for action in environment and planning and the relationship between planning and environmental issues
  • an appreciation of decision-making processes that represent the views of the diverse communities who are affected by those decisions
  • an ability to think clearly and critically, to reason logically and to undertake systematic research
  • techniques in computing, numeracy, design and various forms of communication
  • skills in teamwork to achieve prescribed tasks collectively
  • the ability to reflect critically on your studies and learning


Year One

UK degrees are three years long whereas in China they are four, therefore we do accept students with certain qualifications directly into Year Two, which is the start of the main academic programme. Most students, however, enter into Year One, which provides you with a range of interesting modules, language classes and core skills for your degree.

The department also delivers the following optional modules for Year One students to acquire knowledge more closely linked to the subject.

  • Urban terminology
  • Introduction to urban planning and design
  • Imagining the city

Year Two

You will study the following core subjects to broaden your understanding about urban planning and design:

  • History and purpose of planning
  • Planning in China I
  • Planning in China II
  • Planning in the UK
  • Contemporary planning practice in Western Europe and the North America
  • Urban and environmental economics
  • Skills for planning practice
  • Neighbourhood planning

Year Three

You will build on this foundation and learn about knowledge and expertise needed to become professional urban planners and designers.

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Rural planning
  • Spatial design and the built environment I
  • Spatial design and the built environment II
  • Planning methodology
  • Networks and cities
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Projecting and managing the urban futures

Year Four

In the final year, you will have an opportunity to choose a topic of your interest and receive guidance from a supervisor to undertake an independent research project. You will also choose your specialization by taking a set of specialist modules in the area of 'environment and planning' or 'urban design', along with some core subjects.

  • Final year project (spanning both semesters)
  • Planning theory
  • Planning and property development
  • Planning law and governance
  • International planning

Specialisation option one: Environmental planning

  • Environment and planning
  • Environment and planning project

Specialisation option two: Urban design

  • Urban design
  • Urban design project


There is a high demand for graduates with knowledge of urban planning and design, so you will have many different options to choose from including:

  • policy planner: developing plans for the future of countries, cities and communities
  • urban designer: creating attractive, safe and pleasant places in which to live, work or visit
  • property developer: the right developments for the right place
  • transport planner: finding sustainable transport solutions
  • environmental planner: tackling the effects of climate change
  • regeneration planner: bringing life to places that have become run-down
  • conservation planner: helping to protect our natural resources and heritages
  • community planner: engaging with people about how their communities are developed
  • smart city planner: promoting future cities that incorporate the latest in new technologies

Entry Requirements

Entry into Year One

We welcome applications from high-quality candidates in all subjects with appropriate high school or equivalent qualifications. Students will normally be expected to have a high standing in their high school performance with a minimum ‘B’ average in all subjects as well as relevant subjects.

Entry into Year Two

Students who have completed A-levels or International Baccalaureate (or equivalent) will be considered for entry into Year Two, different programmes have different subject-relevant requirements.

  • A-level: BBB
  • IB Diploma: 30 points
  • Advanced Placement Tests/Subject SATS--High school diploma with a GPA of 3.0 or above, plus:
    • Redesigned SAT: 1280+ (students that took the SATs previous to 2016 will require 1800+) or ACT: 27, and 2 AP examinations: 4+ or 2 SAT subject tests: 600+ or
    • 3 AP examinations: 4+ or
    • 3 SAT subjects: 600+
Last updated Dec 2018

About the School

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) is an international joint venture university founded by Xi’an Jiaotong University in China and the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom in 2006. ... Read More

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) is an international joint venture university founded by Xi’an Jiaotong University in China and the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom in 2006. Read less