Urban Environments Design (MDes)

Introduction

The Master of Design (Urban Environments Design) draws on the contemporary Hong Kong/China urban experience to offer a unique postgraduate education in urban space design. In line with the School’s human-centered critical approach to environment design, this studio-based specialism integrates the design of multiple scales and typologies of urban environments. Urban Environments Design focuses on the analysis and design of hybrid and composite interior environments, urban public spaces and urban systems and strategies.

  • Application Timeline - Sep 2020 Entry
  • Applications start: Sep 26, 2019
  • Review deadlines:
    Early Round: Dec 13, 2019
    Round 1: Jan 24, 2020
    Round 2: Mar 6, 2020
    Round 3: Apr 30, 2020
  • Fellowships application deadline: Apr 30, 2020
  • Programme application deadline: Jun 30, 2020

Important updates

  • Now is at the final stage of the admissions; the start of the 2020-21 academic year is just three months away (Sep 7, 2020).  Applicants, non-locals in particular, who want to be considered for the September 2020 entry must submit an online application and settle the application fee by Jun 30, 2020, 11:59 PM (local time). Ensure the online application form is filled out to the best of your ability, and the submission is in order with all required support documents. Due to extremely limited time for processing, incomplete applications will not be considered. The only exception may be given to applications with pending English test results, however, the official English report^ must be ready by Jul 17, 2020.  (Last update: Jun 8, 2020)
  • For applicants who are not able to take the TOEFL or IELTS tests in-person due to the suspension of test centers as a response to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the University has announced the special arrangement to accept the following test results as alternatives in meeting the English language requirements^ of our taught programmes for the September 2020 entry: (i) TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: Score of 80 or above; or (ii) IELTS Indicator: Overall band score of 6 or above; or (iii) Duolingo English Test: Score of 105 or above. (Last update: Jun 3, 2020)

Aims

This full-time international postgraduate programme responds to the unprecedented urban transformations occurring during the past few decades in Hong Kong and China. Urban Environments Design aims at the development of a high level of intellectual and practical mastery of the analysis and design of diverse urban environments in the region, with broader implications for urban contexts worldwide. The approach of the Urban Environments Design is based on an understanding of socio-cultural dynamics of the regional context transferred into new design strategies and design interventions.

See also: Employers of MDes graduates

Objectives

This specialism seeks to unite practical approaches for innovation in urban strategies with formal aspects of urban environments design, through:

  • real-world project development
  • teamwork approaches to problem-solving
  • socio-cultural and aesthetic considerations
  • reflecting critically and analytically on the urban environments
  • value creation by design within the urban environments
  • a critical understanding of contemporary urban transformations in China
  • definition of strategic approaches to urban environments design

Learn more about: International academic collaborations

Programme structure

Following an introductory seminar, which initiates students in the Urban Environments ethos and approach, the first year of the programme is structured around three half-semester studio subjects, each of which is paired with a seminar subject that provides a knowledge base for the respective studio. Each project is undertaken in collaboration with a public- or private-sector partner, addressing spatial design challenges that emerge from the partner’s real-world operations and institutional culture. The final semester centres on a student-defined capstone design project that synthesises the learning of the programme.

Common Core Subject (compulsory) (1 credits)
SD5400 Vision and Change (1 credit)

Specialism Core Subjects (compulsory)
Theory/Method Subjects (8 credits)
SD5701 Urban Ecology (2 credits)
SD5702 The City from Inside (2 credits)
SD5704 Public Realms (2 credits)
SD5706 Strategic Approaches to the City (2 credits)

Workshop Subjects (12 credits)
SD5703 Urban Interior Environment (4 credits)
SD5705 Urban Public Space Design (4 credits)
SD5707 Urban Systems and Strategies (4 credits)

Capstone Subjects (9 credits)
SD5708 Capstone Research (3 credits)
SD5709 Capstone Project (6 credits)

Elective Subjects* (6 credits)
SD5012 Future Contexts for Design (3 credits)
SD5015 Globalization and Design (3 credits)
SD5021 Chinese Traditions and the 21st Century (3 credits)
SD5022 Special Topics in Contemporary Design I (3 credits)
SD5023 Special Topics in Contemporary Design II (3 credits)

SD5163 Managing Value Creation (3 credits)
SD5202 Innovative Products and Services Development (3 credits)
SD5203 Designing Services (3 credits)

SD5216 Introduction to Intellectual Property: Fundamentals and Strategy (3 credits)

AF5340 Finance and Accounting for Design Business (3 credits)
MM5761 Marketing Management (3 credits)

Electives* offered by other specialisms
SD5502 Information Architecture & Visualization (2 credits)
SD5507 Graduate Seminar I: Theories in Interaction Design (2 credits)
SD5508 Graduate Seminar II: Human Computer Interaction (2 credits)
SD5509 Prototyping and Scripting (3 credits)
SD5520 Concept Workshop (1 credit)

* Remarks: Not all elective subjects are offered every year. Time table will be provided by individual MDes Specialism before the academic year begins. Students should refer to the Scheme Document and may consult Specialism Leader when choosing electives.

Class delivery mode & duration

Seminars and workshops are normally held during the daytime on weekdays. Electives will be delivered during weekends. Each of the weekend subjects requires three weekends spread over 4–5 weeks. It normally takes 1.5 years to complete the specialism.

Specialism leaders

Prof Laurent Gutierrez — Professor, PhD, MArch, BArch, PgD, BT, BTS

Prof Laurent Gutierrez

Laurent Gutierrez is a Professor at the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University where he leads the Urban Environments Design (MDes) and the Design Strategies (MDes). His PhD is on the “Processes of Modernization and Urbanization in China focusing on the Pearl River Delta region”. His research areas include Strategic Planning, Urban Environment, Relationship between Design, Art and Politics in Asia.

Teaching staff

Recent collaboration partners

Application

Entrance requirement

A Bachelor’s degree in a spatial design field or the equivalent in a related discipline (e.g. interior design, environment design, landscape design, architecture, urban design) is required. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented with substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

A complete application includes

  • Application form
  • Letter of intent
  • Three letters of recommendation (Academic/ Profession)
  • Evidence of academic qualification, i.e. Official Full Transcripts and Degree Certificates 
  • Portfolio (refer to FAQ for requirements and submission)
  • IELTS/ TOEFL report^

^ Except for native English speakers whose Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent qualification) is awarded by a recognised university where the medium of instruction is English. Otherwise, you are expected to fulfil the following minimum English language requirement for admission purpose: A Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 80 for the Internet-based test or 550 for the paper-based test; OR An overall Band Score of at least 6 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). All English language test scores are considered valid for two years after the date of the test.

Interview
All admissions must go through the interview process. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview in person (for local applicants) or over internet video calls (for non-local applicants). 

  • Number of credits: 36

  • Normal Period of Study: 1.5 Years (full-time)

  • Tuition: HK$167,400 (local) / HK$190,800 (non-local); Initial Programme Fee: Local student HK$18,600 (4 credits x HK$4,650)/ Non-local student HK$53,000 (10 credits x HK$5,300)

Financial Aid

  1. Subject to approval, a financial aid as an Alumni Bursary# (with a reimbursement of an amount equivalent to 5.4 credits) will be granted to PolyU Design BA graduates admitted into the Master of Design programmes in 2020-21. Eligible admittees will be informed of the application procedures before the academic year begins. This financial aid, offered in limited places, is administered by the School/ PolyU.
  2. Some subjects in the MDes scheme are Continuing Education Fund (CEF) reimbursable for eligible Hong Kong residents (who have the right of abode or the right to land or to remain in Hong Kong without restriction). Students taking these subjects will benefit from the CEF subsidy ceiling of HK$20,000. For further information on CEF, eligibility and the reimbursable courses list, please visit CEF official website.  
  3. Extended Non-means-Tested Loan Scheme (ENLS), administered by Student Finance Office (SFO) of the HK Governments, offers interest-bearing loans to eligible local residents (who have the right of abode in the Hong Kong or have resided or have had their homes in Hong Kong continuously for three complete years prior to the commencement of the programme) to settle tuition fees. For details of the scheme, eligibility and application, please refer to SFO official website
  4. This specialism under Master of Design is an eligible programme in the Targeted Taught Postgraduate Fellowships Scheme (2020-21). Each Fellowship subsidises HK$120,000 of the programme tuition. Local applicants who want to be considered for the Fellowships Scheme should submit an online application together with all required documents by Apr 30, 2020. Incomplete submission or submission after the deadline is normally not acceptable. For related announcement by the University, please refer to the Academic Registry webiste. For more information on application, eligibility and award offering, please refer to our news.
  5. No scholarship is available for non-local students for 2020 entry.

Remarks: Remarks: This financial aid is not applicable to CEF reimbursable courses. Applications from those who have obtained other forms of financial aid from the government or the PolyU pursuing the same programme will not be considered. The School reserves the right to change the terms or withdraw from offering the financial aid. In case of any dispute or disagreement, the School’s decision is final.

Type of VISA (for International Students)

People’s Republic of China and foreign nationals, and those who are holding a valid employment or working holiday visa/ entry permit may apply to this programme as non-locals. You will need a student visa to take this full-time programme.

Holders of dependant visa or a visa under IANG are also considered as non-locals but do not require a student visa.

Applicants will be informed by the University’s Academic Registry (AR) about the visa application process when receiving the Notice of Offer.

Visa applications are processed and determined by the Immigration Department of the Government of the HK SAR. The process normally takes 8 - 10 weeks upon receipt of all the required documents.

MDes Talks: Student Blog

MDes Talks is a series of blog posts produced for prospective students who are considering graduate education in design by current students. It is set out to share their first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.

Enquiry

Should you require further assistance, feel free to contact us by email at sdsteph@polyu.edu.hk or by phone +852 3400 3440.

Miscellaneous