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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

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Flexible: 2-5 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£13,770 (FT) N/A (PT)
£21,960 (FT) N/A (PT)

Application dates

Full-time applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 28 July 2017
Flexible/Modular applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 4 September 2017

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.

Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma with fees set accordingly.
Location: London, Bloomsbury

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

Optional modules

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
  • 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 is available on the department website: 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 below.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) - NOW CLOSED FOR 2016/17

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Overseas students
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

  • Investment Banker, Standard Bank
  • Assistant Researcher, Institute for Urban Studies, Hangzhou Normal University and studying BSc Economics, The University of London
  • Research Assistant, Erzurum Technical University
  • Regional Programme Assistant, Merlin
  • Shelter Co-Ordinator, Save the Children


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 › 33 staff › 210 taught students › 45 research students

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.

What our students and staff say

Staff view

"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

Full-time applicants
28 July 2017
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.

Contact information

Page last modified on 20 October 2016 at 12:07 by UCL Publications & Marketing Services. Please contact us for content updates.


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