The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Dr Kamna Patel

Dr Kamna Patel

Associate Professor

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
16th Jul 2012

Research summary

My current research activities fall within two themes: (i) housing, land tenure and citizenship in the urban Global South, and (ii) reflexive practice and postcolonial scholarship on the teaching and practice of ‘development’. The first of my research themes, is essentially concerned with the role of property in awarding, seizing, denying or contesting citizenship rights, which are sometimes expressed with recourse to national legislation or a moral reference to the right to the city. Specifically, my research has critically examined state-led approaches to low income housing schemes and tenure security in cities in the Global South, and the effects of these approaches on individual and community wellbeing, and realisations of citizenship. 

The second of my research themes, reflexive practice and postcolonial scholarship on the teaching and practice of ‘development’, is an essential part of my own scholar identity as a reflexive practitioner and teacher. Further to critical self-reflection on my career as a consultant and project manager within the development industry, I have developed a strong research interest in the processes and politics of ‘othering’ prevalent in mainstream development policy and practice, and the constructions of knowledge upon which development interventions are planned. I apply this critical insight to the teaching of development studies and research of development issues.

Teaching summary

 I lead on two core modules on the MSc Development Administration and Planning:

  • Contemporary Approaches to Development Management (15 credits), a module that critically analyses common tools and approaches employed in the design, management, implementation and evaluation of development projects and programmes. 
  • Development in Practice (30 credits), this module examines how the concept of 'development' is realised and practiced through a series of research-led projects that explore how a  development intervention is planned and implemented by NGOs in Kampala, Uganda. The module includes two weeks of field study in Kampala. 
Additionally, I teach on the DPU module Critical Ideas of Development: Conceptions and Realities, and lead a research methods seminar in the MA Gender, Society and Representation. 

I am looking to supervise doctoral students in the following areas:
  • Urban land tenure and housing tenure 
  • Slum upgrading (in situ and relocation)
  • Ethnographic methodologies
  • Critical study of the development industry
Please contact me directly if you are interested in pursuing advanced study in these or closely related areas. 


I have an academic and professional background in development studies, social policy and social development. Prior to my doctoral studies, I worked as a consultant and project manager for a UK development consultancy firm, working predominantly on land reform and urban livelihood issues in projects across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.  

In July 2018, I was appointed inaugural Vice-Dean Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for the Bartlett faculty. In this role I take a critical anti-racist feminist approach to augmenting change for greater equality in the university. Since 2016, I have been an active member of the Race Equality Steering Group at UCL and part of the Self-Assessment Team responsible for monitoring UCL's progress towards racial equality with reference to UCL's Race Equality Charter bronze award. 

I served as Co-Programme Leader of the MSc Development Administration and Planning (2013-2019).

My training includes: 

Professional Certificate of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education (2014)

PhD, 'Tenure and Vulnerability: The effects of changes to tenure security on the urban poor', ESRC funded, International Development Department, University of Birmingham (2012)

MA International Development: Social Policy and Social Development (Research Training), International Development and Policy Management, University of Manchester (2008)

BSc (Hons) Politics with Economics, University of Bath (2003)