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Social Development Practice MSc

This MSc offers a critical approach to 'people-centred' development, addressing the challenges for equitable citizenship in the context of social diversity and globalisation, particularly in urban contexts. Participants engage in a critical analysis of the theory and practice of social development alongside gaining the skills required to be a reflective social development practitioner.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Flexible: 2-5 years

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£12,840 (FT)
£20,740 (FT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 29 July 2016
Close: 4 September 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 demonstrable interest in the subject matter of the programme.

Candidates who do not meet the above requirements may be considered if they are able to demonstrate relevant work experience and an ability to engage academically with the subject matter of the degree. 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

The programme objectives are to give participants a solid grounding in social analysis skills and perspectives, rooted in social theory around identity, inequality, and social change processes. Students learn how development interventions can best support the citizenship claims of diverse groups of women and men, and girls and boys living in the Global South, and, consider the role of the social development practitioner in this endeavour.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

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

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

Core Modules

  • Social Policy and Citizenship
  • Social Diversity, Inequality, and Poverty
  • Social Development in Practice


  • Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
  • Communication, Technologies and Social Power
  • Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities
  • Gender in Policy and Planning
  • Housing Policy, Programme and Project Alternatives
  • Management and Planning for Development
  • Managing the City Economy
  • NGOs and Social Transformation
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management
  • Urban Environmental Planning and Management in Development


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 lectures, seminars, practical classroom exercises, and fieldwork within the UK and abroad. Practical work, including the overseas group fieldwork report, will comprise part of the total accreditation. Student performance is assessed through course work, examinations, and a dissertation report.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Social Development Practice MSc


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

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed (where available) 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)

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


Graduates of this Master's programme are likely to find employment as officers for local and international NGOs, as officers for international organisations, as officers in local or national government departments and as consultants. Some graduates pursue an academic career, either through doctoral studies or through teaching and research in a number of prestigious universities.

Our students' first career destinations in recent years include:

  • Gender Advisor, Islamic World Relief
  • Associate Community Officer, Citizens UK
  • Internal Communication Officer, Bernardos
  • Project Assistant, Action for Brazil's Children
  • Qualitative Researcher, Government of Dubai


Graduates of this programme are able to link theory to practice, critically reflect, and negotiate complex social relations as well as facilitate social processes in a context of diversity - all key transferable skills in the job market. Graduates have secured jobs in a vary of sectors and countries and built fulfilling careers in social development.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The programme introduces students to critical, analytical and practical skills that will be of use in their future careers, whether as academics, social development practitioners or advocates for the need to place the 'social' at the centre of development. Students have an opportunity to critically examine relevant bodies of knowledge, current debates and field experience in primarily urban contexts, and to consider the challenges of making development policy, planning and practice more socially responsive.

Students on this MSc benefit from the strong practical component, which includes fieldwork assignments in London and an international field trip to a city on the global south. This trip provides the opportunity to develop practical skills, use tools for participatory action research, and reflect on the roles and responsibilities of social development practitioners.

The practice-based components of the programme also provide students with the opportunity to network with organisations and professionals working in the social development sector, and at a complementary series of careers sessions students can network with Development Planning Unit alumni and partners who are working in relevant fields.

Student / staff ratios › 33 staff › 210 taught students › 45 research students

Department: Development Planning Unit

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?

This MSc attracts participants from a wide variety of disciplines including sociology, economics, anthropology, international studies, history, communication studies, geography and psychology. It provides the critical, analytical and practical skills necessary for their future careers as academics, social development practitioners or advocates.

Application deadlines

All applicants
29 July 2016
4 September 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 about:
  • your understanding of what social development consitutes
  • any experience you have of working in social development or related sectors
  • why you want to study Social Development Practice at graduate level
  • why you want to study Social Development Practice at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • what do you think you will bring to the 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 demonstrate your interest in the distinctive features of this MSc programme and tell us about your expectations.

Contact Information


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

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