The production, reproduction and transformation of urban space via socially, economically, and environmentally just methods presents a complex challenge for professionals. This MSc combines cultural, social, economic, political and spatial analysis to recalibrate the urban design project, presenting a holistic response in which informality and marginality are central features.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2017/18)
- £14,100 (FT)
- £22,850 (FT)
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. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.
The normal minimum qualifications are a good second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
A second acceptable qualification is a degree of lower than second-class Honours standard, or an equivalent overseas qualification, in a subject appropriate to the programme, plus relevant work experience. Applicants who do not hold a first degree may, in exceptional cases, be admitted to the programme if they are able to demonstrate considerable senior-level professional experience in planning or a related field.
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.
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:
About this degree
The programme will equip students with a political economy understanding of space; a comprehension of the needs, abilities, aspirations and forms of resistance of urban dwellers; the ability to respond with strategically co-ordinated proposals to leverage local abilities to meet local needs; and an ability to critically engage with the practice of urban design and architecture in developmental processes – particularly in the Global South.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of three core modules (90 credits), two optional modules (30 credits) and a development and planning report (60 credits).
- Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development
- Participatory Process: Building for Development
- The BUDD Studio: Building and Urban Design Practice
- Critical Urbanism Studio I. Learning from Informality: Case studies and alternatives
- Critical Urbanism Studio II: Investigative Design Strategies for Contested Spaces
- Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities
- Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
- Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
- Housing as Urbanism: Housing Policy and the Search for Scale
- Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
- The Political Ecology of Environmental Change
- Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
- Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
- Social Policy and Citizenship
- Gender in Policy and Planning
- The City and its Relations: Context, Institutions and Actors in Urban Development Planning
- Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management: Strategic Action in Theory and Practice
- Transport Equity and Urban Mobility
- Industrialisation and Infrastructure
- Food and the City
- Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: Knowledge Systems in the Global South
- NGOs and Social Transformation
- Contemporary approaches to Development Management
Please note, the availability of some modules may be dependent on student numbers
All MSc students submit a 10,000-word report on a topic related to the main themes of the programme. The topic can be chosen to enhance career development or for its inherent interest.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of weekly lectures, seminar presentations, group exercises and workshops. The BUDD studio includes a fieldwork project in an urban reality of the global south, developed in partnership with local organisations, networks of communities, slum dweller federations, universities and governments alike. Students are encouraged to explore different tools, concepts and ideas throughout the programme and test these during the field project. Assessment is through coursework, design work, written examinations and the 10,000-word report.
Applicants may be eligible for the DFID Shared Scholarship Scheme and the Otto Koenigsberger Scholarship.
Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
- £10,000 (1 year)
- UK, EU, Overseas
- Based on financial need
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
The programme enables graduates to work in NGOs and local government – facilitating community organisations and households to improve their living conditions. Graduate destinations range from UK-based organisations in the public, private and community sectors, to governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, which operate in a development capacity in the South. Recent graduates have also been employed by international NGOs and aid and development agencies and architectural and design practices. Some graduates return to their home countries and engage in urban design and architecture practice, teaching, or research of urban development there; others have successfully sought employment away from their own countries.
Top career destinations for this degree
- Architectural Assistant, Foster + Partners
- Architectural Designer, Thinking Development
- Research Assistant/PhD in Development Planning, UCL
- Urban Designer/Visual Designer, Nanjing Yangtze River Urban Architectural Design Co. Ltd
- Project Manager, Home Office
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 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The UCL Bartlett is the UK's largest multidisciplinary faculty of the built environment, bringing together dozens of scientific and professional specialisms required to research, understand, design, construct and operate the buildings and urban environments of the future.
The Development Planning Unit is an international centre 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, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its programmes are supported by international agencies as well as by national and provincial governments.
The Building and Urban Design in Development (BUDD) programme in particular reflects on the necessity of design practices to contribute to changing the mainstream paradigm of working with the urban poor, with communities and the city itself.
Department: Development Planning Unit
Student / staff numbers
› 33 staff
› 210 taught students
› 45 research students
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
75% 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.
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?
The programme encourages a multidisciplinary approach, attracting professionals who already have a background in the built environment field, principally architects, designers, planners, geographers and engineers. The programme is also suited to applicants from other professional backgrounds who are interested in the built environment and seeki to increase their understanding of urban environmental issues in developing countries and to develop practical design skills. The MSc attracts most of its students from overseas, but also from Europe.
- Full-time applicants
- 28 July 2017
- Flexible/Modular applicants
- 4 September 2017
*Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa will not be eligible to apply.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Building and Urban Design in Development at graduate level
- why you want to study Building and Urban Design in Development at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
- 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.