Environment and Sustainable Development MSc

This programme examines development planning in the context of environmental concerns in urban areas of the global south. It challenges mainstream approaches to development, focusing instead upon transformative action for environmental justice. Many of our graduates go on to help shape future sustainable development agendas in local government, international agencies and civil society organisations.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Flexible: 3-5 years

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£13,370 (FT) £N/A (PT)
£21,320 (FT) £N/A (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 29 July 2016
Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma with fees set accordingly.
Fees note: Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. The tuition fee schedule for 2016/17 entry can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Entry Requirements

The normal minimum qualifications are a good second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard; and a demonstrated interest in the subject matter of the course. Candidates who do not meet the above requirements may be considered if they are able to demonstrate substantial relevant work experience and an ability to engage academically with the subject matter of the course. Applicants who do not hold a recognised undergraduate 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.

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:

Degree Information

This focus of this degree is the complexity and variety of current environmental problems in urban regions, their causes and impacts, and the potentials and limitations of environmental planning and management. Students learn how to respond to processes that generate social and environmental change, and how to develop strategies to steer urban environmental planning towards sustainability and environmental justice.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (90 credits), one or two optional modules (30 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).

A Postgraduate Diploma, three core modules (90 credits), one or two optional modules (30 modules), full-time nine months, is offered.

Core Modules

  • The Political Ecology of Environmental Change
  • Environment and Sustainable Development in Practice
  • Urban Environmental Planning and Management in Development


  • Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
  • Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities
  • Gender in Policy and Planning
  • Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development
  • Housing Policy, Programme and Project Alternatives
  • The City and Its Relations
  • Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management
  • Socially Sensitive Development in Practice
  • Social Development and Poverty Reduction: From Theory to Practice
  • Managing the City Economy


All MSc students submit a 10,000-word dissertation 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 comprises reading, essay writing, critical discussion and project work, facilitated through lectures, seminars, workshops, extensive fieldwork and discussions with practitioners covering theoretical and practical tasks and case study analysis. Assessment is through coursework, examinations, and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Environment and Sustainable Development MSc


Applicants may be eligible for the DFID Shared Scholarship Scheme and the Otto Koenigsberger Scholarship.

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

Bartlett Masters Scholarship

£5,000 (1 year)
UK, EU, Overseas students
Based on financial need

Brown Family Bursary - NOW CLOSED FOR 2015/16 ENTRY

£15,000 (1 year)
UK students
Based on both academic merit and financial need

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)- NOW CLOSED FOR 2015/16 ENTRY

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Overseas students
Based on both academic merit and financial need

David Thomas Award

c. £300 (1 year)
UK, EU, Overseas students
Based on academic merit

GREAT-UCL India Scholarship

£10,000 (1 year)
Overseas students
Based on academic merit

Otto Koenigsberger Fund

Up to £3,000 (1 year)
Overseas students
Based on academic merit

More scholarships are listed on the Scholarships and Funding website


Most previous graduates of this programme are now engaged in professional activities, ranging from local and national government, consultancy firms and national and international NGOs, to United Nations programmes and international aid agencies the world over.

Examples of organisations where graduates are employed include:

  • Public Sector: DEFRA and DfID (UK), Ministerio das Cidades (Brazil) and many other local government organisations
  • International Agencies and NGOs: UNEP, UNDP, UN-Habitat, JICA, GIZ (former GTZ), InsightShare, Save the Children, and WWF
  • Think tanks, academic and research organisations: IIEED, Stockholm Environment Institute, Resources for Development Center, WaterWise and the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport
  • Private companies: HappoldConsulting, EcoSecurities, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Dialogue by Design, and BioRegionalQuintain

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Government and Rights Lawyer, Client Earth (2013)
  • Climate Change Advisor, Save the Children UK (2011)
  • Deputy Director, Water Resources, Japan International Cooperation Agency (2011)
  • Senior Analyst , Delloite and Touche (2011)
  • Environmental Consultant, USAID (2011)


Our programme equips students with several interdisciplinary and transferable skills including report writing, data collection and analysis, communication, research and project management skills and team work.

Our students network with diverse organisations in the UK and internationally, and in the field they may work directly with local public and private partners. Academic staff are involved in research, consultancy and development practice, influencing global debates on development such as UNFCCC negotiations, the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Habitat III agenda. Students can meet alumni and other individuals and groups forming part of this network, which is concerned with issues of socially just and sustainable development in the Global South.

Why study this degree at UCL?

This programme offers an in-depth theoretical and practical understanding of socio-environmental change, equipping graduates with the skills required to face global challenges in urban regions while being sensitive to local contexts.

For the last 60 years the Development Planning Unit at UCL has championed forms of development planning that promote social justice in the context of rapid urbanisation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The programme provides opportunities to interact with leading thinkers in development planning and students will join an international network of researchers and practitioners.

Student / staff ratios › 33 staff › 210 taught students › 45 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-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
Student review

"I applied to UCL due to its position as a leading global institution in terms of teaching and research. I knew I would be taught by renowned experts in their field and as a graduate student, have the opportunity to interact with them and benefit from their input into my work. "

Alice Fourrier

Environment and Sustainable Development MSc

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 is strongly interdisciplinary and attracts participants from a wide variety of disciplines, including anthropologists, economists, geographers and natural scientists, as well as planners, architects and engineers. The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma attracts most of its students from overseas but also from European countries.

Application deadlines

All applicants
29 July 2016

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 Environment and Sustainable Development at graduate level
  • why you want to study Environment and Sustainable Development at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • what do you think you will bring to the course
  • 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.

Contact Information


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

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