The Urban Sustainable Environments (USE) option will introduce students to the relationship between urban environments, their functionality and several key aspects of human health. Recognizing the challenges of urban growth worldwide, students will participate in trans-disciplinary dialogues about the opportunities and solutions to foster sustainable and healthy urban environments.

The option will address the ‘workings’ of cities to identify important and often challenging urban sectors such as energy, water, waste, transport and land use planning, and assess the interplay between the built, natural and social environments Sectors will be analysed and studied through proposed solutions, stressing the need for holistic thinking and integrated assessments. Example solutions will include technological approaches such as for smart mobility, land use planning practices such as greenspace provision, transport policies such as active travel infrastructure, and societal engagement to ensure citizen buy-in.

To address the question ‘how can cities be smart cities?’, the flow (relationships) between the individual, government and the environment in each sector will be studied in a transversal way, analysing the participation of each actor (individual, government and environment) in the solutions to urban challenges.

Lecturers and seminars are delivered by researchers and professionals working across a range of urban-relevant sectors. Lectures, case studies and group work are delivered and facilitated by members of staff.


  • To nurture competent graduates who can apprehend urban challenges and build on opportunities provided by urban living to critically assess and provide visionary solutions for healthy and sustainable urban environments.  


Governance and Engagement in Urban Environments

This module will deliver a strategic overview of the key elements of governance that cities require to function: Policy, strategic and local bodies, technological change, behaviour change, stakeholder engagement, planning.

There will be a focus on solutions, policy and policy frameworks.  Thus on enhancing the students’ understanding of the interrelationships between science, technology, legislation and policy development in effectively addressing urban problems and developing measures to reduce environmental impacts.

Infrastructure of Urban Environments

This module will deliver a strategic overview of the key elements of infrastructure that cities require to function: Water, Energy, Waste, Transport and Land-use Planning.

There will be a focus on both current and future technologies and strategies and their impacts on health and the environment. There will be a number of field visits with practical sessions that enable students to have first-hand experience of key technical practice and to visit leaders in urban infrastructure.

Integrated Urban Systems

This module is about the integration of the various perspectives and solutions discussed across the different modules to help cities improve decision-making towards healthier and more sustainable urban environments. 

It will focus on digesting and discussing the different components learned in the other modules to identify co-benefits, trade-offs, opportunities and barriers for sustainable decision-making in cities. Examples of successful systems integration from other fields will also be discussed as possible templates for urban environments.


Graduates from the USE Option will go on to work in a wide variety of sectors and in different organizations, including as urban sustainability practitioners, consultants, in advocacy, NGOs and in government. A few will go into further study.

Find out more about the MSc course