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Urban Studies MSc

Cities are now a critical focus for research, policy-making and public debate. According to the United Nations, three-quarters of the global population will live in cities by 2050. This MSc develops innovative, comparative and interdisciplinary modes of analysis and research that can address the scale and complexity of contemporary urbanism.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years
Flexible: 3-5 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£10,110 (FT) £5,085 (PT)
£20,540 (FT) £10,430 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 28 July 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.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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: Good

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

Students develop an advanced understanding of urban theory, and explore the main urban developments shaping the contemporary world. The programme focuses on the interface between theory and practice across a diverse range of topics, from historic patterns of urban change to large-scale challenges such as slums, poverty and access to basic services, and current developments in urban design and the visual arts.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme offers two pathways, standard and research.

Standard consists of three core modules (45 credits), five options (75 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits). Research consists of four core modules (75 credits), three options (45 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

  • Urban Imaginations
  • Cities, Space and Power
  • Urban Practices
  • Research route only:
  • Social Science Research Methodologies (30 credits)

Optional modules

Options may include the following: 

  • Asian Cities in a Globalising South
  • London: Aspects of Change
  • Creative Cities
  • Cities and Climate Change
  • Community Participation in City Strategies
  • Comparative Urbanism
  • Spatial Planning
  • Migration and Urban Multicultures
  • Anthropology of Architecture
  • Planning Practices in Europe
  • Thinking Space
  • Transforming Local Areas
  • Representation of Cities


All students undertake an individual research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 12,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, field trips, tutorials, discussion groups, presentations and group work. Assessment is through coursework in the form of essays, and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Urban Studies MSc


ESRC funding exists for students taking the MSc as a prelude to a three-year PhD. UK students maybe apply to the Thomas Wall Trust.

Overseas students: Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan, Ford Foundation International Fellowships, Marshall Scholarships and Fulbright Traditional Postgraduate Student Awards.

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


Since the launch of the Urban Studies MSc in 2008/2009, graduates from the programme have found employment in a variety of sectors such as municipal and local government, urban political organisations, art consultancies, communications companies, financial services, social enterprise initiatives, cultural institutions, community development organisations and think tanks.

Urban Studies graduates have an impressive record of continuing their research as PhD students; this includes at UCL - in geography, the Development Planning Unit, and architectural design - as well as in Europe and North America: at the University of Zurich, the Open University, LSE, Universidade do Porto, TU Berlin and the University of Minnesota.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • MA Geopolitics, Territory and Security, King's College London
  • International Development Intern, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
  • Planning Management Professional, Huafa Group
  • Researcher Associate, Federal Council
  • Designer, Pilot Projects and studying PhD Urban Planning, Columbia University


This programme will significantly improve the knowledge and skills necessary for careers in academia, public and private research, and other commercial and professional fields where an advanced understanding of cities and urban change is required. Through this programme students will meet leading practitioners from the fields of architecture, journalism, transport planning, environmental management, art and urban activism. You will become part of a growing international network of graduates who are a valuable source of advice, information and guidance for current students.

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?

The UCL Urban Laboratory is the result of a unique collaboration between four faculties: Arts & Humanities, the UCL Bartlett, Engineering Sciences, and Social & Historical Sciences. It brings together the best urban teaching and research at UCL and this range of expertise will make this programme unparalleled in scope both within the UK and internationally.

Urban research at UCL draws on a rich heritage of ideas including the groundbreaking insights of figures such as Patrick Abercrombie, Peter Hall, Ruth Glass and Reyner Banham.

UCL's engagement in wider public debates in London and internationally regarding the future design and planning of cities is a distinctive feature of our research.

Department: Geography

Student / staff numbers › 43 staff including 15 postdocs › 170 taught students › 70 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: Geography
76% 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

Student view

"What convinced me to choose UCL was the breadth and variety of the Urban Studies MSc, particularly its emphasis on multi- and interdisciplinary learning. As UCL is renowned for its urban research, the programme has close links with organisations such as the Urban Laboratory. This really differed from other programmes I had applied to, which felt much more insular, and therefore restrictive. I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to locate new, unfamiliar areas of study that I could not have predicted before starting the degree last September."

Rebecca Payne

MSc Urban Studies

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 interdisciplinary programme welcomes candidates from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, and is suitable for students who wish to develop their understanding of the current debates in this field, either as a foundation for further research or to enrich their practical and professional contribution to the urban arena.

Application deadlines

All applicants
28 July 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 Studies
  • why you want to study Urban Studies at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and/or professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • 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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