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Urban Development Planning MSc

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.

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: 5 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 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.

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 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), one optional module (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.

Core Modules

  • 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


  • Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
  • An Introduction to Public Economies and Public Policies
  • Communication, Technologies and Social Power
  • 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
  • Gender in Policy and Planning
  • Management and Planning for Development
  • Housing Policy, Programme and Project Alternatives
  • Management and Planning for Development: International and National Dimensions
  • Managing the City Economy
  • NGOs and Social Transformation
  • Participatory Processes: Building for Development
  • Political Economy of Development
  • Political Economy of Development: Industrialisation and Infrastructure
  • Political Economy of Development: Land, Food and Agriculture
  • Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
  • Social Diversity, Inequality and Poverty
  • Social Policy and Citizenship
  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Services 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, 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.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Urban Development Planning MSc


General information on funding and scholarships is provided by the faculty.

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 (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


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

  • Management Consultant, World Bank (2011)
  • Engineer, Hui Zhou Urban Planning Institute (2011)
  • Quality Support Officer, London and Quadrant Housing Trust (2011)
  • Civil Engineer, Department of Urban Routes, Ghana (2011)


The programme aims to help students:

  • To prepare well-supported and critical and comparative analysis, and argument, based on theory and empirical evidence
  • To undertake a well-supported diagnosis of the problems and opportunities in urban development in specific contexts
  • To formulate systematic and well-supported proposals aimed at dealing with the multi-dimensional complexity of a range of urban development situations, including organisational and institutional development
  • Acquire basic presentation, advocacy and negotiation skills
  • Acquire basic research skills including the formulation of a conceptual framework, interviewing and the use of a range of information sources
  • Acquire skills to work in groups to achieve effective outcomes from team working
  • Operate professionally in an unfamiliar environment in a developing country context.

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 issue, 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.

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

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.

Application deadlines

All applicants
29 July 2016
5 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:
  • 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.

Contact Information


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

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