University Of Canterbury Urban Planning

In the 21st century, cities and urban areas are facing increasing challenges associated with flood risk, coastal erosion, and sea level rises. In many growing areas these are coupled with challenges of demographic growth and urban spread.

While there are many university postgraduate degrees that focus on local planning legislation, there are no other identifiable programmes that focus specifically on how communities respond to challenges that cities are facing today. This programme will be of interest to students wishing to address broader urban issues and engage with communities.

The Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal (MURR) will focus on:

  • the urban renewal of Ōtautahi Christchurch, a city that faces many of these issues as it recovers from the 2010/11 earthquakes
  • how communities respond to challenges that cities are facing today
  • community engagement with students working with community groups and local government, within compulsory courses and through their chosen research project.

Entry requirements

Every student enrolling in the Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal shall have:

  • a university degree which is relevant to urban resilience and renewal (eg, Geography, Environmental Science, planning, Sociology, or any other relevant degree subject as approved by the Programme Director and/or Academic Dean of Science) with at least a B Grade Point Average; and
  • approval for the degree by the Academic Dean of Science.

If English is your additional language, you are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

For the full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Urban Renewal and Resilience or use the admission requirements checker.

How to apply

You can apply online at myUC. Find out more about how to apply for graduate and postgraduate qualifications.

Subjects and courses

All students in the MURR take these courses:

  • GEOG 402 Resilient Cities
  • GEOG 409 Coasts and Rivers: from natural processes to urban environments
  • GEOG 415 Internship

The compulsory project GEOG 692 Community or Workplace Based Project comprises an individual project in the field of Urban Resilience and Renewal, under the supervision of one or more staff members. The project will involve working with a community partner on a project of direct relevance and real value to that community.

Another 30 points of courses are chosen from 400-level courses approved by the Programme Director which have more specific interests, for example:

  • Geography
  • Environmental Science
  • Statistics
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Water Resource Management

Career Opportunities

The Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal will provide students with the skills, knowledge, and competencies to be employed professionally in any organisation involved in urban resilience and renewal. It will enable graduates to seek out careers in areas such as environmental management, disaster risk reduction, hazard management, environmental consulting, as well as local and regional government.

The project component will provide students with the opportunity to work for a community/organisational partner on a research problem they have helped identify. By partnering with local organisations, graduates will have experience in how to influence , shape, and make a significant difference to the communities they live in.

Useful information:

  • Read what other UC postgraduate students have gone on to achieve in their studies and careers in our student and graduate profiles.
  • Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers can help you to achieve the career you want, connect with employers, or find a job.
  • For research into career destinations by qualification, visit Te Pōkai Tara | Universities New Zealand website.
  • Find out more about what you can do with a degree from UC.
  • Come along to an upcoming information event for prospective postgraduate students.

Tuition Fees

See Tuition Fee Structure for more information


2020180Banded Fee – total tuition fee dependent on course selection$12,261


2020180Special (Set) Programme Fee$57,600
2021180Special (Set) Programme Fee$59,250

Resilient Cities

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020

This course examines the theory and practice of sustainable urban development. How to manage cities sustainably is one of the main challenges in all parts of the world, and the more so in Christchurch in the context of post earthquake recovery. The course has a different theme each year, and in 2015 this will be ‘Urban Placemaking’. Placemaking is the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being, and are friendly not just for the mobile majority but also for children, pedestrians and older people. In the two previous years, we have looked at biophilic cities and at the central city rebuild.

The course uses problem-based learning, combined with elements of service-learning, i.e. research delivery through community engagement focused. The research project is formulated in conjunction with urban management and community agencies. From the course you will: develop an appreciation and understanding of key urban issues, reflect on how to use critically concepts of ‘place’, ‘community’ and ‘nature’ in urban landscapes, and to understand the value and importance of geographical processes in urban research.

Learning Outcomes

  •  a knowledge of theoretical and applied elements of urban resilience
  •  an appreciation of the range of contexts, processes and actors that contribute to greater or 
       lesser degrees of resilience
  •  an understanding of effective research design
  •  familiarity with and competence in a range of techniques used in problem solving including design 
       and execution of a research project and the ability to critically evaluate research
  •  an ability to work in teams to resolve problems 
  •  an ability to communicate via written, visual and oral means


    Entry subject to approval of the Head of Department.



    Timetable 2020

    Students must attend one activity from each section.

    Lecture A
    01Wednesday13:00 – 16:00– (22/4-27/5)
     Putaiao Koiora 275 (19/2-25/3)
    17 Feb – 29 Mar
    20 Apr – 31 May

    Course Coordinator

    Rita Dionisio


    Short essay01 Apr 202020%
    Research project – report45%
    Research project – presentation15%
    Reflective journal – formative18 Mar 2020
    Reflective journal – summative29 May 202020%

    Geog 402 contains the following pieces of assessment

    Review essay 20%
    Research project 60% (presentation 15 and report 45)
    Reflective journal 20%

    Textbooks / Resources

    Further Recommended Reading:

    Bednarz, S. et al. (2008). Community engagement for student learning in geography, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 32 (1), 87-100.

    Brail, S. (2013). Experiencing the city: urban studies students and service learning, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37 (2), 241-56. 

    Pawson. E. Fournier, E., Haigh, M., Muniz, O., Trafford, J., Vajoczki, S. (2006). Problem-based learning in geography: towards a critical assessment of its purposes, benefits and risks, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 30 (1), 103-16.

    IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 688.

    Productivity Commission (2018). Low-emissions Economy: Final Report. Available from

    Reisinger, A., R.L. Kitching, F. Chiew, L. Hughes, P.C.D. Newton, S.S. Schuster, A. Tait, and P.Whetton (2014). Australasia. In IPCC 2014, pp. 1371-1438.

    Rose, J.F.P. (2016). The Well-tempered City. New York: HarperCollins.

    Park, C. (2003). Engaging students in the learning process: the learning journal, Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 27, 2, 183-199.

    Indicative Fees

    Domestic fee $2,044.00

    International Postgraduate fees 

    * Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

    For further information see School of Earth and Environment on the department and colleges page.