The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


MSc Development Administration and Planning

The MSc Development Administration and Planning provides students with the necessary expertise to make a positive contribution to development.

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

  • 12-month programme that provides the analytical, methodological and practical expertise needed to make a positive contribution to development
  • Overseas practice engagement in a developing country where you’ll study both the practical concerns of development, and the cultural, administrative and institutional context in which decisions are made
  • A critical, analytical and comparative approach to planning for social action

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    Programme overview

    By critically examining the theory and practice of development administration at the international, national and regional levels in a variety of contexts, the MSc in Development Administration and Planning seeks to provide participants with an understanding of the processes generating social change and with the skills and abilities to engage with such change. The programme has a critical, analytical and comparative approach and retains the DPU’s long-standing position on planning for and with action.

    The programme is strongly interdisciplinary, attracting among others, anthropologists, geographers, lawyers, public administrators, economists and politicians. Since its beginnings in the DPU in the mid-1990s, course graduates have engaged in diverse professional activities, including local, regional and national government, consultancy firms and national and international NGOs, United Nations programmes, international aid agencies and prestigious universities the world over. 

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    Programme structure

    How the MSc Development Administration & Planning is structured.

    All programme participants are required to take one two-term 30-credit compulsory core module (DEVP0010: Development in Practice), one two-term 30-credit core module (DEVP0015: Critical Ideas of Development Conceptions and Realities), plus two single term15-credit core modules: DEVP0012: Society & Market: Private Agency for Development (Term 1) and DEVP0016: Contemporary Approaches to Development Management (Term 2).


    Core modules

    DEVP0015 -  Critical Ideas of Development: Conceptions and Realities introduces participants to the historical evolution of the theories and ideas underpinning development interventions. The aim of the module is to provide students with a clear understanding of development theories and the historical circumstances in which they were produced, as well as their strategic implications. Students are assessed by unseen written exam and assignment. 

    DEVP0016 - Contemporary Approaches to Development Management explores the common tools and approaches employed in development management and provides students with a clear understanding of their theoretical underpinnings, uses and critiques. Students are assessed by unseen written exam.

    DEVP0010 - Development in Practice is a two-term composite module. This module is designed to expose students to the tools and instruments of planned intervention in a range of development fields. It also aims to develop participants’ analytical and evaluative capacity, whilst strengthening their professional and team-working skills. It consists of a London-based team exercise, two workshops in the first term, an overseas practice engagement in the third term, and a series of skills development seminars.

    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.

    Optional Modules offered by DAP

    DEVP0011 - Neo-Structuralism and the Developmental Stateconsiders  differing conceptions of the state as a primary agent in social and economic development processes by examining case studies from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. This module also seeks to familiarise the student with the opportunities and constraints posed by the global integrated process of production to planning for independent styles of development. Students are assessed with a written assignment. 

    DEVP0013 - Political Economy of Development: Land, Food and Agriculture aims to expose students to the inextricable linkages between agricultural policy, land allocation, food insecurity (local and global), good governance, conflict, and famine, and to consider how these elements impact people living in poverty in both rural and urban areas in the developing world. Students are assessed with a written assignment.

    DEVP0014 - Political Economy of Development: Industrialisation and Infrastructure seeks to critically examine the contribution of industrialisation and infrastructure to national, regional and local development in the Global South. By focusing on these two issues, which often stand at the centre of national/local government policies, the module looks in detail at some of the forces that help shape national development from both a theoretical and an empirical viewpoint. Students are assessed with a written assignment.

    Optional modules offered by other Masters in the DPU

    (please note that enrolment onto each module is subject to places being available)

    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. 

    DEVP0008 Housing as urbanism: housing policy and the search for scale reflects on the evolution of ideas and practices in the field of housing policies, in their direct connection with the wider context of development theories and strategies. It explores the changes in the role of different stakeholders, in the understanding of the multiple articulations of housing and urbanism and in the meaning and tools of scaling-up in housing provision.

    It pays particular attention to the convergence of debates on informality and housing as central to a major paradigmatic shift at conceptual and policy levels which will affect the direction of housing strategies far beyond just questions of informal housing. 

    DEVP0009 Housing policies: practical dimensions and alternative options focuses on how interventions in housing can build on a complexity of sectoral inputs to produce multiple pro-poor development outcomes. Participants are exposed to a range of approaches to housing and settlement upgrading policy and practice. The roles of the state, market and civil society in housing and settlement upgrading are examined in different national contexts.

    The importance of land, finance, infrastructure, organisational capacity and governance are emphasised as well as the longer-term sustainability of different approaches. Participants have an opportunity to work in small groups to track and analyse the historical development and implementation of housing policy within a specific country. They are also expected to develop a personal case study that demonstrates how the interaction between personal and political contexts results in differing housing outcomes.

    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.

    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. 

    DEVP0007 Critical Urbanism Studio II - Investigative Design Strategies for Contested Spaces is the second Critical Urbanism Studio module. It builds upon the accumulated knowledge and conceptual framework of case study analysis (BENVGBU8) while focusing on a more profoundly phenomenological investigation into the multiplicity of contested developing arenas.

    The module evolves around a real-life contemporary urban case study developed in collaboration with a partner in the Global South. It offers the platform to reason on a new aesthetics of informality and experiment with design research and strategies that reflect on the design process as act of critique, resistance, balance, while putting the poor at the centre of it.

    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. 

    DEVP0029 Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management: Strategic Action in Theory and Practice explores strategic action in urban development policy, planning and management which recognises social justice in cities.

    DEVP0031 Gender in Policy and Planning is an 18-session module over two terms examining gender relations in the socio-economic, political and environmental processes in the development of human settlements. 

    DEVP0032 Transport Equity and Urban Mobility focuses on the relationships between social identity, transport and planning in the context of urban development in the Global South. It critiques and explores the implications for transport planning and its interaction with other kinds of planning, and the relationships between the state, civil society and private sector in the provision of transport for more socially just cities.

    DEVP0020 The Political Ecology of Environmental Change starts by providing a comprehensive review and critical analysis of the contemporary debate on development and environmental sustainability.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    DEVP0039 Cost Benefit Analysis: Theory and Practice covers the economic assessment of projects and policies using cost-benefit analysis techniques, furthermore the evaluation of trends and developments and other issues relevant to urban economic policies will be explored.


    The MSc DAP is taught by DPU staff held in high esteem by their peers internationally and renowned for their academic thinking and development practice.

    Follow the links to learn more about the teaching staff and associates.


    Programme Leaders

    Dr Raktim Ray
    View Raktim Ray's profile

    Dr Paroj Banerjee
    View Paroj Banerjee's profile

    Lecturers and Teaching Fellows

    Prof Julio D Dávila
    View Julio Davila's profile

    Dr Naji Makarem
    View Naji Makarem's profile

    Jorge Fiori
    View Jorge iori's profile

    James Oporia-Ekwaro

    Prof Michael Walls
    View Michael Walls' profile

    Dr Zeremariam Fre  
    View Zeremariam Fre's profile

    Graduate Teaching Assistant


    Vafa Dianati
    Send Vafa Dianati an email

    More information

    To find out more about DPU staff, please visit our general personnel page.

    Careers and employability

    For more information view our DPU Careers page

    This strongly interdisciplinary course attracts, among others, anthropologists, economists, geographers, lawyers, politicians and public administrators.

    Since the course’s beginnings in the mid-1990s, graduates have been engaged in a diversity of professional positions , including in local, regional and national governments, consultancy firms, national and international NGOs, United Nations programmes, international aid agencies, multilateral organisations, think tanks and prestigious universities.

    Many graduates return to their previous jobs while others embark on new careers after the course. Examples of organisations where recent graduates are employed include:
    Asian Development Bank Christian Aid (UK and West Africa) EMBARQ India - The WRI Centre for Sustainable Transport.

    Some graduates also pursue advanced research degrees (e.g. PhDs), while several work as academics in reputed universities or as independent consultants.
    •    Entremundos, Guatemala
    •    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    •    Heifer International
    •    Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
    •    International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
    •    Medical Research Council HIV/AIDS Programme (Uganda)
    •    Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
    •    Save The Children
    •    UNESCO
    •    UNICEF
    •    United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
    •    United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
    •    United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
    •    World Vision
    •    International consultancy firms such as OCO Global, Halcrow (UK) and PADECO (Japan)

    Who should apply?

    Our programme is interdisciplinary and suitable for graduates and professionals seeking to develop a critical understanding of differing theoretical and empirical approaches to policy, planning and administration in development processes. Further, we welcome applications from graduates and practitioners interested in exploring the divergent natures of the numerous frameworks and ‘tools’ that are used to formulate responses to problems of widening economic and social inequality and environmental degradation.

    More information