The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


MSc Urban Economic Development

The MSc Urban Economic Development identifies ways to enhance urban productivity while promoting sustainability and equity through public intervention in cities.

View our 'Study at the DPU' page for information, guidance and resources for prospective applicants and offer-holders studying at the DPU in 2021/22.

Programme highlights

The MSc Urban Economic Development offers our students the skills, tools and critical thinking to design and engage in state of the art research and develop sound and creative approaches and partnership in pursuit of inclusive, prosperous and sustainable urban and regional development.

We offer:

  • The opportunity to develop creative and theoretically-derived perspectives and world views that guide futures thinking in pursuit of moral urban economies
  • A broad scope of consideration and concern to include all citizens and stakeholders affected by urban economies and strategic interventions.
  • A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies and practice engagement related to a diverse range of regions in both highly-advance and less productive economies around the world
  • A ‘live’ client project with leading public and private development organisations in London, where you will leverage digital solutions for self-management and distributed leadership, and co-create and communicate innovative approaches to major urban challenges.
  • Tools to critically examine theoretical foundations of urbanisation and economic development, drawing on past experiences in managing city economies
  • Training in the critical assessment and use of micro- and macro-economic data, the analysis of urban economic activity and the application of economic criteria to urban development

Apply now

On this page

Programme overview

The MSc Urban Economic Development is designed to train development practitioners to better understand the dynamics of the city economy and encourage them to develop their own theoretically-sound perspectives and world views on how to tackle urban challenges through state of the art research and creative policy formulation.
The course is strongly interdisciplinary, attracting administrators, economists and politicians, as well as planners, architects, engineers, technologists and geographers who share common value around social equity, freedom and responsibility, prosperity and environmental sustainability.

The MSc UED focuses on a range of contemporary themes in urban economic development. These include debates around the impact of globalisation, liberalisation and decentralisation on the socio-economic fabric of cites; the role of infrastructure, knowledge, social capital, values and beliefs in steering urban economies on high-road trajectories; market failures and negative externalities; the use of technologies for creating smart and sustainable cities; and developing enabling urban contexts for co-creation and emergence in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Programme structure

How the MSc Urban Economic Development is structured.

The MSc Urban Economic Development is structured so that 75 per cent of the taught components (90 credits) is devoted to the core subjects of economics in urban development and managing the city economy, and 25 per cent (30 credits) to an option from a range of modules on offer.

The core modules provide the theoretical and methodological components of the course while the optional modules allow students to examine different approaches and issues in accordance with their own particular interests.

The course is delivered through lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies and practice engagements, and involves reading, essay writing and individual and group project work. Student performance is assessed through course work, examinations, and an individual dissertation report undertaken during the summer on a topic selected by the student.

UED structure

Practice engagements

The programme involves overseas practice engagements (undertaken in recent years in Mek'ele, Ethiopia; Mbarara, Uganda; Barcelona, Spain; Cairo, Egypt; and Accra, Ghana), as well as in the UK, allowing students to put into practice some of the tools and techniques acquired during the course.


Your options for study on the MSc Urban Economic Development.

For a full description of our modules, please visit the postgraduate modules page

Core modules

DEVP0018 Managing the City Economy enables participants to develop a critical understanding of the key components and operating dynamics of the city economy, and the factors that underlie urban productivity.

DEVP0019 Practice in Urban Economic Development exposes students to contrasting practices of urban economic development to enable them to gain a better understanding of the process of managing local economic development in an urban context. 

DEVP0038 Urbanisation and Development addresses the prospect for development in a context of international trade and investment, with the role of the state and effects of policies as key underlying factors.

DEVP0040 An Introduction to Public Economics and Public Policy deals with identifying the most common market failures, the drivers of government failures and the interactions between economics and politics as constraints on the design of public policies.

Optional modules offered by other Masters in the DPU

DEVP0033 Social Policy and Citizenship looks at socially sensitive development, which has its roots in the social sector and social welfare models that were developed during the last century. 

DEVP0034 Social Diversity, Inequality and Poverty argues that social development is no longer confined to the 'social sector', but is increasingly defined more broadly as an approach that attempts to put 'people' and social equity at the centre of development initiatives across all sectors.

DEVP0036 NGOs and Social Transformation focuses on the practice and politics of development NGOs. It explores how different NGOs are able to represent and be accountable to the beneficiaries of their projects and transform unequal power relations.

DEVP0002 Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development provides a structured understanding of the forces that form and transform cities – particularly in countries of the global south – as well as the intellectual and theoretical bases for a recalibration of urban design praxis. Students have also the occasion to touch ground through a London-based urban design exercise, in partnership with a relevant stakeholder.

The module engages with critical transformative literature and specifically with alternative design approaches connected with literature of renewed philosophical and critical studies. 

DEVP0003 Participatory Processes: Building for Development introduces the theories and concepts of participatory approaches and the processes in development and practice. It questions the nature and limits of participation and participatory design while engaging with case studies of collective and critical urban and spatial practices. 

DEVP0005 Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities provides a detailed examination and structured understanding of Disaster Studies and Disaster Risk Reduction, with specific reference to urban areas. It engages with extreme condition of disasters and their social, physical and political implications on urban areas, the built environment and planning disciplines.

Drawing from current research on the urban turn in Disaster Studies and the entanglements between Disaster Risk Reduction, Development processes and Urban Poverty, the module offers an introduction to the debate on urban resilience and its policy implications. 

DEVP0001 Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives provides a detailed and critical examination of post-disaster recovery practices and policies, with a particular focus on its institutional arrangements and socio-spatial implications. Drawing from transnational research experiences and connections with practitioners, humanitarian workers and development managers, the module reflects on the different challenges posed when working in a post disaster environment and implementing plans, projects and interventions. 

DEVP0006 Critical Urbanism Studio I - Learning from Informality: Case Studies and Alternatives will suit students of diverse academic backgrounds and levels of professional experience. This studio-based module promotes the merits of existing project scenarios and a critical understanding of case-study analysis and research in design processes.

It focuses on how informal urban territories are constituted and imagined, and engages with a vast variety of urban materiality as a way to learn from existing experiences and reflect on design strategies that are able to deal with the complexities of the urban project. 

DEVP0028 The City and Its Relations: Context, Institutions and Actors in Urban Development Planning explores the economic, social and physical change of cities in the wider context of development and globalisation.

DEVP0021 Urban Environmental Planning and Management in Development surveys environmental problems in urban areas and their underlying causes and identifies who contributes most to such problems and who is most affected by them.

DEVP0023 Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South aims to provide participants with an understanding of the ways in which climate change will affect urban areas in low- and middle-income countries. 

DEVP0026 Food and the City looks at urban food security with long-term sustainability and resilience in face of crisis and extreme weather.

DEVP0027 Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: Knowledge Systems in the Global South provides a critical examination of the historical evolution and the negative impact of industrial agriculture and its consequences for small holder urban and peri-urban food production and knowledge systems in the Global South.

DEVP0012 Society and Market: Private Agency for Development explores the theoretical base and implications for development planning and practice of market- and civil society-led approaches to development. It focuses on conceptions of ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’, livelihoods and ‘making markets work for the poor’ (M4P) approaches that permeate contemporary development policy and practice. Students are assessed with a written assignment.


The MSc UED is taught by DPU staff and associate teaching fellows renowned for their contribution to academic thinking and urban economic analysis in the context of city planning and urban management.


Programme Leaders

Dr Naji Makarem
View Naji Makarem's profile

Dr Alexandra Panman
View Alexandra Panman's profile

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Jing Zhang

Staff currently teaching on the programme


Prof. Le-Yin Zhang
View Le-Yin Zhang's profile

Dr Jamelia Harris

Dr Margarethe Theseira

Dr Alessio Koliulis
View Alessio Kolioulis' profile

Étienne von Bertrab
View Étienne von Bertrab's profile

Careers and employability

For more information view our DPU Careers page

The MSc UED is widely recognised by international organisations and outfits, including UN agencies and the World Bank.

It is also recognised by bilateral aid organisations from different countries, including the UK's Department for International Development, as well as other government aid programmes; and by many national organisations.

The UED programme is a core course at the Development Planning Unit and alumni benefit from the international respect enjoyed by DPU thanks to its expertise in and contribution to urban development and action planning.

There is enormous variety in the careers UED graduates pursue, ranging from working with UK-based organisations in the public, private and community sectors that focus on local as well as international development, to employment with governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations operating in a development capacity in the South.

A global network

There is also diversity in the geographic location of UED alumni: some return to their home countries with the additional MSc qualification and engage in the practice, teaching or research of urban development there; others find employment in development organisations (from grassroots to multilateral tiers) away from their own countries.

DPU boasts a global network of alumni spread across many continents, countries and organisations, often facilitating that essential first introduction of a UED graduate into employment.

Who should apply?

Our students come from dozens of countries, speak different languages and have a mix of experiences and skills. However, they all have something in common:
-    They have worked or intend to work professionally in the field of policy-making, implementation and consultancy that focus on the city economy and economic development in urban areas.
-    They want to acquire a critical understanding of the city economy and the capability to develop and formulate well-grounded sectoral and city development strategies
-    They are interested in exploring interdisciplinary approaches to achieving prosperity, equity and sustainability at the same time.
-    They are key to learn from development experiences elsewhere and feel comfortable in engaging in theoretical and policy debates.
If they sound like you, you are very encouraged to apply.

What our alumni say

Freddy Fashridjal
"The program perfectly matched my learning expectations"

Freddy Fashridjal 2017-18

Magdalena Leisten Johansson
"I now have the right mix of experience and knowledge that enable me to contribute professionally in my new role as an Infrastructure Advisor in UK Department for International Development"

Magdalena Leisten Johansson (2015-16)

More information