The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


MSc Health in Urban Development

Producing theoretical and practical knowledge on the interrelationships between formal and informal urban contexts, health disparities, social justice and development planning in the Global South

View our 'Study at the DPU' page for information, guidance and resources for prospective applicants and offer-holders studying at the DPU in 2020/21.

Programme highlights

The programme provides participants with the necessary academic and professional skills to be involved in the field of urban health, focusing on:

  • The effect (positive and negative) of urbanisation processes in the Global South on both physical and mental health and the root causes of intra-urban disparities in health.
  • The important role that development planning and public health play in the health of urban dwellers
  • The interaction between specific aspects of city life such as housing, transportation, food, infrastructure, productive processes and their impact on human health.
  • The evaluation and design of intervention strategies aiming at fostering healthy urban communities, ranging from the international to the national scale

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Programme overview

The Health in Urban Development MSc (HUD), run with the support of UCL's Institute for Global Health, aspires to produce an interdisciplinary and critical perspective of the interrelationships between formal and informal processes, health disparities and development planning in general and in the Global South in particular. Our approach is that there is a link between development planning and health to be found in urban governance (institutions), in the physical (land, infrastructure) and the social (community) environments. The programme aims to cultivate socially-sensitive urban health practitioners who can promote responses to the challenges of urban inequality, informality and environmental risks.

Learning activities will mirror common practices and activities. Interactive sessions with health and development experts will enable the discussion of specific topics and provide the opportunity to discuss processes employed in this field. Visiting experts, site visits and an overseas practice engagement to a location in the Global South provide a contemporary real-world perspective. You will develop advanced knowledge and understanding through progressive contact with leading research and practice conducted in the DPU, the Bartlett and UCL. By completing the programme, you should expect to gain subject specific knowledge, intellectual, academic and research Skills as well as practical and transferrable skills.


The programme is structured so that 75 per cent of the taught components (90 credits) is devoted to the core subjects of urban health and development planning strategies part 1 and 2 (15 credits each) and health, social justice and the city part 1 and 2 (15 credits each) and the practice module (30 credits), and 25 per cent (30 credits) to an option from a range of modules on offer. Teaching and learning is divided into five different areas: core knowledge (module 1), integrated analysis (module 2), operation (practice module), optional modules and dissertation.

Below is a diagram outlining the course structure in terms of modules and distribution of credit hours:


HUD structure

Core modules

Module 1 Health, Social Justice and the City introduces key approaches and methodologies for the study of urban health. The module focuses on public health, planning and health equity, on the political and institutional processes that enable public health interventions to address the social determinants of health, and will examine health as a site of power imbalances in the city.

Module 2 Urban Health and Development Planning Strategies introduces and develops analytical skills in order to critically evaluate and constructively develop strategies of intervention in the field of urban health. Based on the core functions of public health (assessment, policy development, and assurance) and how public health is organized at the local, state, national, and international level, this module comparatively focuses on three levels of analysis: policy level, spatial intervention level and community based initiatives level.

Module 3 Urban Health: Reflections on Practice focuses on the ways in which planning interventions are gradually acknowledged as important determinants of population health. Interventions in land use, housing, infrastructure, transportation, and public participation are central for our understanding of the ways in which health is shaped by urbanisation processes. This module integrates the students’ work into practice, identifying the leading urban health problems, including their causes and methods for prevention, analysing the advantages and limitations of the various types of population-based approaches to improve public health.

Dissertation: You will also undertake independent research project culminating in a dissertation. The dissertation is centred on a research project in an area of the programme. Conducting students’ own research will be supported by learning how to: search literature and plan a research project; use knowledge acquired in the programme to critically appraise work; and communicate and justify research results.
Optional Modules offered by HUD (30 credits)

You may choose from the list of existing optional modules currently on offer. If you wish to take an optional module not included in this list, you may select from all UCL modules, subject to scheduling, availability and the programme leader's approval. Among suggested optional modules: 

CIHDG033          Concepts and Controversies in Global Health

CIHDG034          Research Methods and Evidence for Global Health

CIHDG036          Power and Politics in Global Health

CIHDG042          Health Systems in a Global Context

CIHDG037         Climate Change and Health 

DEVP0038        Urbanisation and Development

DEVP0025        Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics           

DEVP0026       Food and the City          

DEVP0041        The Informal Economy and Urban Development                   

DEVP0009        Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options  


Find out more about the staff working on the MSc Health in Urban Developmet.


Programme Leader

Dr Haim Yacobi
View Haim Yacobi's profile

Staff currently teaching on the programme include:

Dr Donald Brown
View Don Brown's Profile

Professor Carolyn Stephens
View Carolyn Stephens' profile

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Faheem Qurratulain
Send Faheem Qurratulain an email

Careers and employability

For more information view our DPU Careers page

The programme learning activities have been designed with employability in mind. You will gain a strong core knowledge, combined with hands-on experience. You will also learn how to evaluate, analyse and develop intervention strategies, and will become familiar with more advanced research tools, theory and methodology.

Strong emphasis is placed by the programme on active learning methodologies; you will gain the confidence to undertake interdisciplinary projects with unknowns and uncertainties, learning to coordinate work, integrate across disciplines, and make balanced decisions – thus preparing you for a successful professional career.

At present, there are no alumni from this programme due to the programme commencing in 2019. Alumni from other MSc programmes at the DPU include a large number of practitioners

Who should apply?

We aim to cultivate socially sensitive urban practitioners who can promote human-centric responses to challenges like marginalisation, inequality and environmental degradation. The course is suitable for graduates and professionals who want to engage with contemporary urban issues while acquiring the practical skills needed to deliver positive urban change.

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