The Urban Development Planning MSc explores international practices in urban development policy, planning and management that address contemporary spatial, socio-economic and political transformations in cities of the Global South.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2018/19)
- £14,180 (FT) £6,980 (PT)
- £22,620 (FT) £11,310 (PT)
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 second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. A minimum of six months work experience is also recommended.
Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic requirements 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 and an ability to engage academically with the subject matter.
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
This MSc aims to equip participants to work effectively as development practitioners in urban contexts through a deeper understanding of the processes that generate urban change. The programme aims to enhance their diagnostic and strategic capacities to respond to such change within the framework of socially just urban governance.
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, three core modules (90 credits), one optional module (30 credits), full-time nine months, is offered.
- 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
- Practice in Urban Development Planning
Please note, not all optional modules may be available.
- Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
- An Introduction to Public Economics and Public Policy
- 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
- Food and the City
- Gender in Policy and Planning
- Housing as Urbanism: Housing Policy and the Search for Scale
- Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
- Industrialisation and Infrastructure
- Knowledge Systems and Sustainable Food Production
- Managing the City Economy
- Neo-Structuralism and the Developmental State
- NGOs and Social Transformation
- Participatory Processes: Building for Development
- Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
- Social Diversity, Inequality and Poverty
- Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
- Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
- Transport Equity and Urban Mobility
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, group work, workshops and field trips. Field trips so far have taken place in Egypt, Ghana, India, Thailand, and Tanzania. Student performance is assessed through essays, coursework, team project reports, written examinations, the overseas field trip and a 10,000-word dissertation.
Applicants may be eligible for the DFID Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) and the Otto Koenigsberger Scholarship (OKS).
General information on funding and scholarships is provided by the DPU administration team.
Overseas students are also encouraged to contact a local office of the British Council for information on possible scholarships.
The following other organisations may be able to offer financial support:
- United Nations
- Ford Foundation
- European Development Fund
- Architects Registration Board (ARB)
- Aga Khan Foundation for scholarships for applicants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya and Tanzania.
EU funding is also possible for studentships through the European Union.
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
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
This MSc is widely recognised by international organisations and agencies (such as UN agencies and the World Bank) and bilateral aid organisations from different countries. 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. Graduates have also been employed by international NGOs and aid and development agencies. Some graduates return to their home countries and engage in the practice, teaching or research of urban development practice; other graduates have successfully sought employment in international development organisations away from their own countries.
Top career destinations for this degree
- Shelter Delegate, CARE
- Town Planner, Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development
- Urban Governance Assistant, World Resources Institute
- Development Manager, NAS Properties
- Housing Development Consultant, Unspecified NGO
The programme aims to help students:
- prepare balanced, critical and comparative analysis and argument based on theory and empirical evidence
- undertake a comprehensive diagnosis of the problems and opportunities in urban development in specific contexts
- formulate systematic and reasoned proposals that address the multi-dimensional complexity of various urban development situations, including organisational and institutional development
- build presentation, advocacy and negotiation skills
- develop research skills including interviewing, conceptual framework formulation, and the abilitiy to analyse a range of information sources
- enhance their teamwork skills
- operate professionally in an unfamiliar environment within the context of a developing country.
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?
This programme argues that planning is key to dealing with urban problems and opportunities presented by rapid urbanisation in the Global South, but that its potential cannot be harnessed without a critical understanding of the processes that generate urban change in specific contexts.
The programme seeks to equip students with the capacity to develop critical diagnoses of urban issues, as a basis for developing propositional responses within the framework of socially, spatially and environmentally just urban governance.
The programme promotes a deeper understanding of community-led and partnership-based urban development planning. Students also benefit from the Development Planning Unit's longstanding and geographically exhaustive alumni and partner network.
Department: Development Planning Unit
Student / staff numbers
› 50 staff
including 9 postdocs
› 230 taught students
› 55 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
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
"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 BrotoEnvironment and Sustainable Development MSc, Urban Development Planning MSc, Development Planning MPhil/PhD
Lecturer in Environment and Sustainable Development
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?
Applicants from a range of backgrounds, including those working in or aspiring to work in international aid agencies, central government and local authorities, non-governmental organisations, academia and the private sector will benefit from this programme. Students come from a variety of disciplines, including planning, architecture, geography, economics, political science and sociology.
- Full-time applicants
- 27 July 2018
- Flexible/Modular applicants
- 4 September 2017
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 Urban Development Planning at graduate level
- why you want to study Urban Development Planning 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.