Urban Studies MSc

Cities are now a critical focus for research, policy-making and public debate. According to the United Nations, three-quarters of the global population will live in cities by 2050. This MSc develops innovative, comparative and interdisciplinary modes of analysis and research that can address the scale and complexity of contemporary urbanism.

Mode of study

  • Full-time 1 year
  • Part-time 2 years
  • Flexible 3-5 years

Tuition fees

  • UK/EU Full-time: £8,500
  • Overseas Full-time: £16,750

Application date

  • All applicants: 21 July 2014

More details in Application section.

What will I learn?

Students develop an advanced understanding of urban theory, and explore the main urban developments shaping the contemporary world. The programme focuses on the interface between theory and practice across a diverse range of topics, from historic patterns of urban change to large-scale challenges such as slums, poverty and access to basic services, and current developments in urban design and the visual arts.

Why should I study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Urban Laboratory (www.ucl.ac.uk/urbanlab) is the result of a unique collaboration between four faculties (Arts and Humanities, the Bartlett, Engineering, and Social and Historical Sciences). It brings together the best urban teaching and research at UCL and this range of expertise will make this programme unparalleled in scope both within the UK and internationally.

Urban research at UCL draws on a rich heritage of ideas including the groundbreaking insights of figures such as Patrick Abercrombie, Peter Hall, Ruth Glass and Reyner Banham.

UCL's engagement in wider public debates in London and internationally regarding the future design and planning of cities is a distinctive feature of our research.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme offers two pathways, standard and research. Standard: Three core modules (45 credits), five options (75 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits). Research: Four core modules (75 credits), three options (45 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).

Core Modules

  • Urban Imaginations
  • Cities, Space and Power
  • Urban Practices
  • Social Science Research Methodologies (30 credits)


  • Asian Cities in a Globalising South
  • London: Aspects of Change
  • Creative Cities
  • Landscape and Power
  • Public Space and the City
  • Community Participation in City Strategies
  • Comparative Urbanism
  • Spatial Planning
  • Cities in Eastern Europe
  • Anthropology of Architecture
  • Planning Practices in Europe
  • Thinking Space
  • Transforming Local Areas
  • Representation of Cities
  • Urban Design: Product, Process and Critique
  • Postcolonial Theory and the Multicultural City
  • Modern Cities: representing Modernity 1850-1920


All students undertake an individual research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, field-trips, tutorials, discussion groups, presentations and group work. Assessment is through coursework in the form of essays, and the dissertation.

Further details available on subject website:


ESRC funding exists for students taking the MSc as a prelude to a three-year PhD. UK students maybe apply to the Thomas Wall Trust.

Overseas students: Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan, Ford Foundation International Fellowships, Marshall Scholarships and Fulbright Traditional Postgraduate Student Awards.

Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Scholarships and funding website.

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

International equivalencies

Select your country for equivalent alternative requirements

English language proficiency level: Good

How to apply

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

The deadline for applications is 21 July 2014.

Who can apply?

This interdisciplinary programme welcomes candidates from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, and is suitable for students who wish to develop their understanding of the current debates in this field, either as a foundation for further research or to enrich their practical and professional contribution to the urban arena.

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Urban Studies
  • why you want to study Urban Studies at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and/or professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.


Since the launch of the Urban Studies MSc in 2008/2009, graduates from the programme have found employment in, among other sectors, municipal and local government, urban political organisations, art consultancies, communications companies, financial services, social enterprise intiatives, cultural institutions, community development organisations and think-tanks. Urban Studies graduates have an impressive record of continuing their research as PhD students. This includes at UCL (in Geography, the Development Planning Unit and Architectural Design) as well as in Europe and North America (such as the University of Zurich, the Open University, LSE, Universidade do Porto, TU Berlin and University of Minnesota).

Top career destinations for this programme

  • Demos (think-tank), Research Associate, 2009
  • Urban Development Strategist, Architect, 2010
  • London Civic Forum, Political Researcher, 2011


This programme will significantly improve the knowledge and skills necessary for careers in academia, public and private research, and other commercial and professional fields where an advanced understanding of cities and urban change is required. Through taking the course, you will meet landing practitioners from field such as architecture, journalism, transport planning, environmental management, art and urban activism. You will become part of a growing international network of graduates who are a valuable source of advice, information and guidance for current students.

Next steps


Ms Fiona Mannion

T: +44 (0)20 7679 7579



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Prospectus subject


Faculty overview

Social and Historical Sciences


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Alumni View

"I made contacts at other universities and was encouraged to take part in conferences, receiving financial support to do so, which was great for getting general research experience and networking skills."

Emma Wiik

Research Associate, Loughborough University, 2012

Student View

"UCL provides its students with the opportunity to enrich their networks in the academic and business world. I have attended many career open day events organised either by UCL itself or by companies outside UCL."

Katerini Pylarinou

Degree: PhD