Home Menu


Development Planning MPhil/PhD

The UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) promotes just, sustainable forms of development, seeks to understand rapid urbanisation and encourages innovation in the policy, planning and management of cities and regions in the global south. Its programmes are supported by international agencies and national and provincial governments.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2018

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years

Tuition fees (2018/19)

£8,430 (FT) £4,165 (PT)
£19,970 (FT) £10,140 (PT)

Application dates

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject, is essential. Exceptionally: where applicants have other suitable research or professional experience, they may be admitted without a Master's degree; or where applicants have a lower second-class UK Honours Bachelor's degree (2:2) (or equivalent) they must possess a relevant Master's degree to be admitted. We expect any successful application to include a sufficiently strong and convincing proposal, and those holding a Master's degree are typically well prepared to provide one. Relevant work experience is highly desirable.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

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 promotes around 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, but intersecting, strands of their work. PhD students are strongly encouraged to participate in one or more of these clusters:

  • Urban transformations explores the multiplex urban transformation processes and its aim is to explicitly increase the room for manoeuvre for a variety of city actors to harness key levers of transformatory change
  • Environmental justice, urbanisation and resilience explores so-called 'urban transitions' faced by the Global South, by unearthing emergent relationships and contradictions between resilience and environmental justice in the contemporary geographies of capitalist urbanisation and accumulation
  • Diversity, social complexity and planned intervention comprises two overlapping sub-clusters, dealing in different ways with the relationship between social diversity, development processes and planned interventions
  • State and market governance and policy in development provides a forum for discussion and the development of collaborative research ideas on long-term approaches to the governance of development transitions.
More information can be found on the department website: Development Planning MPhil/PhD


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Recent PhD graduates have gone on to 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.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Researcher, Conacyt
  • Senior Violence Prevention Specialist, World Bank
  • Lecturer, College of Politics and Governance, Mahasarakham University


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.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The uniqueness of reading for a PhD at the DPU is the environment of the department. Staff and fellow students are generally involved in intellectual research situated at the interface of theory and practice. This orientation affects the way we tend to approach research, the issues of study and the types of knowledge that are produced.

The MPhil component of the PhD consists of a structured programme which while it trains rigorous researchers, also builds a supportive peer support network that provides a safe, secure and stimulating environment for testing and developing new ideas and practices at the frontiers of development planning research. The DPU's PhD programme is the only development-oriented PhD programme in London to offer this structure.

Department: Development Planning Unit

Student / staff numbers › 50 staff
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Development Planning Unit
81% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

What our students and staff say

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-hand experience of them, whether this is in Syria, Indonesia, Congo or Brazil."

Dr Vanesa Castán Broto

Environment and Sustainable Development MSc, Urban Development Planning MSc, Development Planning MPhil/PhD
Lecturer in Environment and Sustainable Development
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 multi-disciplinary 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 carried out 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

MSc Development Administration and Planning MSc Transport & City Planning MSc Global Health DPU's Doctoral Programme
Professor of Urban Policy and International Development
Staff review

"The DPU is a warm, stimulating intellectual environment where concern for others is a key feature. Through its location in the heart of London, a vibrant international development milieu and extensive networks with activists, advocates and researchers at the cutting-edge of social change around the world, students and staff are constantly engaged in the most up-to-date debates to promote just, sustainable progressive change."

Dr Colin Marx

Development Planning MPhil/PhD

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.

Application deadlines

Please note that applicants must commence their studies in September because the first year of this programme includes timetabled taught sessions for research students. 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

Contact information

Page last modified on 16 November 2017 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing



  • Register interest in your chosen subjects
  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
Register now