Development Planning MPhil/PhD

The Development Planning Unit (DPU) is concerned with promoting sustainable forms of development, understanding rapid urbanisation and encouraging innovation in the policy, planning and management responses to the economic, social and environmental development of cities and regions, in the global south. Its programmes are supported by international agencies and national and provincial governments.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 3 years
  • Part-time: 5 years

Tuition Fees (2015/16)

£7,985 (FT) £3,965 (PT)
£16,690 (FT) £8,500 (PT)

Application deadlines

There is only one start date in September for this programme. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed in Next steps, right) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.

Entry Requirements

A UK Master’s degree in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Relevant work experience is highly desirable.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Research areas

Research is an important part of the learning that the DPU seeks to promote between theory, methodology and practice in the field of international development. Currently the DPU has four research clusters, each with sub-clusters which reflect the development of different strands of their work:
  • Urban transformations: this cluster explores the multiplex urban transformation processes and its aim is to explicitly increase the room for manoeuvre or a variety of city actors to harness key levers of transformatory change. The cluster focuses on the following arenas: local governance and democracy, social mobilisation, resistance and collective action and design and planning for the just city
  • Environmental justice, urbanisation and resilience: this cluster explores so-called ‘urban transitions’ faced by the Global South, by unearthing emergency relationships and contradictions between resilience and environmental justice in the contemporary geographies of capitalist urbanisation and accumulation
  • Diversity, social complexity and planned intervention: this research cluster comprises two overlapping sub-clusters, dealing in different ways with the relationship between social diversity, development processes, and planned interventions. It explores the ways in which multiple social identities have (or have not) been addressed through the policies, plans and practices of development institutions, and the associated social and development consequences
  • State and market: Governance and policy in development: this cluster provides a forum for discussion and the development of collaborative research ideas on long-term approaches to the governance of development transitions. The cluster analyses the ethical implications to the competing frameworks that underpin these approaches, an promotes progressive interactions between state, society and market actors and institutions.


Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances
1 year
Prospective Overseas Master's students on one of the 10 eligible programmes, who are nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) a Commonwealth developing country, and not currently living or studying in a developed country. The students must hold a first degree at either first- or upper second-class level and be sufficiently fluent in English to pursue the programme. Applicants must not have previously studied for one year or more in a developed country, nor have been employed by a government department (at national level) or a parastatal organisation (employees of universities are normally acceptable). Students must be be willing to confirm that they will return to their home country as soon as their period of study is complete.

Brown Family Bursary

1 year
Prospective full-time Master's students within the Faculties of the Built Environment, Engineering Science and Mathematical & Physical Sciences.

David Thomas Award

c. £300
1 year
Current graduate students in the Development Planning Unit.

Otto Koenigsberger Fund

Up to £3,000
1 year
Prospective overseas MSc students in the Development Planning Unit.

Bartlett Masters Scholarship

1 year
Prospective MSc, MA or MArch students in the Bartlett Faculty. Applicants' annual income (from a salary or other sources) at the start of the programme must not exceed £14,000 (full-time study) or £28,000 (part-time study).

More scholarships are listed on the scholarships website


Recent graduating PhD students work in a range of positions, mostly based in the Global South. These include lectureships in leading universities, postdoctoral research projects, international development institutions (e.g. Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank), government ministries and international non-governmental organisations. Others work in private consultancy firms.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Special Assistant/Senate Resident, National Assembly Nigeria (2011)
  • Director, China Security (2010)
  • Lecturer, Thammasat University, Faculty of Architecture and Planning (2011)
  • Lecturer and Researcher, University of Chile (2010)


The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) research programmes constitute a programme of self-selected academic study in the area of international, national, regional and urban development, focusing on the political, economic, social and institutional dimensions of development. They embrace the range of areas of study that are central to the interests of the DPU and are designed to support the formation of rigorous researchers by helping them strengthen their analytical skills whilst critically engaging with theoretical concepts and methodological tools.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Student / staff ratios › 33 staff › 200 taught students › 40 research students

Department: Development Planning Unit

Degree reviews

Staff review

"The students at the DPU come from many international locations and backgrounds, which means we are always hearing about developments in different parts of the world from people who have first experience of them, whether this is in Syria, Indonesia, Congo or Brazil."

Dr Vanesa Castán Broto

Subject: Environment and Sustainable Development MSc, Urban Development Planning MSc, Development Planning MPhil/PhD
Staff review

"I examine recent changes in cities of the (so-called) global south, with a particular interest in how local governments can design and implement sustainable, more inclusive policies that seek to counterbalance long-term trends towards income inequality and spatial fragmentation. Because of the complex nature of cities, this work is inevitably multidisciplinary and UCL provides a fantastic platform for it. I have the opportunity to interact with some of the top minds in my field, and to learn from the cutting-edge science that is being done in London, including UCL. The energy and diversity of activities within UCL and my own department is something that fills me with awe and pride."

Professor Julio Davila

Subject: MSc Development Administration and Planning MSc Transport & City Planning MSc Global Health DPU's Doctoral Programme

Application and next steps


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.

Who can apply?

Application deadlines

There is only one start date in September for this programme. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed in Next steps, right) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now


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