The Development Administration and Planning MSc provides students with the theoretical, empirical and practical expertise to promote societal justice and impact global developmental challenges.
About the course
By critically examining the theory and practice of development administration at the international, national and regional levels in a variety of contexts, the Development Administration and Planning MSc (DAP) seeks to provide you with an understanding of the processes generating social transformation, as well as with the tools, skills and abilities of engagement. Our course has a critical, analytical and comparative approach and retains the The Bartlett Development Planning Unit's (DPU) long-standing position on planning for and with action.
Development Administration and Planning has a global reputation for being one of the most diverse courses not just in terms of staff profiles and student participation but also in terms of our pedagogic approaches. Our course is strongly interdisciplinary and highly international, attracting among others, anthropologists, geographers, planners, architects, lawyers, public administrators, economists and politicians. Since its inception in the mid-1990s, our graduates have engaged in diverse professional activities, including local, regional and national government, consultancy firms and national and international NGOs, United Nations courses, international aid agencies and prestigious universities the world over.
Equitable distribution of resources is one of the key challenges that we face in today’s world to create conditions for long-term growth, greater inter-personal and international equity and environmental sustainability. To achieve this, we need individuals who are capable of applying a critical understanding of the range of tools and policy approaches that are available to address the obstacles, both domestic and international that stand in the way of these goals with a specific focus on the postcolonial context. We also need skill sets and tools to plan developmental interventions by critically analysing the role of different institutions (the state, market and civil society) to achieve ‘just’ planning. We would also highly encourage applications from professionals with prior experience working in the government sector, civil society organisations or consultancy firms. MSc in Development Administration and Planning is dedicated to building capabilities which would enable students to develop skills to address the contemporary global challenges from a critical and multi-disciplinary perspective.
The Development Administration and Planning MSc offers:
- A 12-month course that provides the analytical, methodological and practical expertise needed to critically examine development interventions to promote social justice and address key developmental challenges which are globally connected
- An overseas practice engagement in a postcolonial context where you will study both the practical implications of mainstream and alternative development and the socio-cultural, political-economic, administrative and institutional context in which decisions are made
- A critical, analytical and comparative approach to planning for social action.
On this page
- Who should apply?
- Course structure
- Development in Practice
- Careers and employability
- More information
Our course 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. Furthermore, we welcome applications from graduates and practitioners interested in exploring the divergent natures of the numerous frameworks and ‘tools’ that are used to formulate context-specific, equitable, and just responses to problems of widening global challenges.
Our course is organised into modules, with each requiring a critical amount of learning time, measured in credits. Core modules provide the theoretical and methodological components of the course while optional modules allow students to examine different topics and approaches in accordance with their own particular interests. In addition, 30 credits are reserved for an elective from a range of optional modules on offer.
- Read more about our core modules
- Critical Ideas of Development: Conceptions and Realities introduces you to the historical evolution of the theories and ideas underpinning development interventions. The aim of the module is to provide you 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 an assessed essay.
- 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 an assessed essay.
- Contemporary Approaches to Development Management explores the common tools and approaches employed in development management and provides you with a clear understanding of their theoretical underpinnings, uses and critiques. Students are assessed by assessed teamwork and an assessed essay.
- Development in Practice is a three-term composite module. This module is designed to expose you to the tools and instruments of planned intervention in a range of development fields. It also aims to develop your analytical and evaluative capacity, whilst strengthening your professional and team-working skills. The module plays a fundamental role in preparing you for the overseas practice engagement.
- Read more about our optional modules
- 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.
Our students can also choose optional modules offered by other master's programmes at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, or modules offered by other departments within UCL.
More details of these modules can be found in the UCL module catalogue.
Please note that enrolment onto each module is subject to places being available and that the course structure and list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change.
Our teaching and learning approach
Our course involves approximately 1,800 hours of student learning time. It involves several activities such as lectures, presentations from experts in the field, seminars, peer-led teamwork, workshops, tutorials, field visits and project work, as well as independent reading, writing and revision for examinations. Full-time students should commit to an average of at least 35 hours of study a week throughout the programme of study. Our course, including its learning outcomes, module objectives, assessment and peer to peer engagement approaches, has been designed to equip learners to be independent critical thinkers and practitioners.
Practice-based engagement is a core component of the Development Administration and Planning MSc. Our core module, Development in Practice, equips you with the hands-on, real-life experience of developmental interventions in a global context. As part of this, the module integrates theoretical learning with real-life developmental projects.
In an overseas practice engagement, you will work collaboratively in groups with various developmental organisations to understand how a project or a course is planned for interventions. You will also reflectively analyse how context and positionality shape the outcome of developmental interventions. Previously, we have travelled to various geographies to form partnerships with equivalent host institutions. We have had a sustained relationship with Urban Action Lab at Makerere University in Uganda. In the 2023, students travelled to Sao Paulo (Brazil) and, in groups, worked with six different development organisations to critically understand how these organisations engaged in developmental interventions. Thematically, the organisations focused on various developmental issues such as indigenous rights, access to education, food security, queer rights and sanitation. Previously, our course has travelled to Egypt, Ethiopia and Ghana.
The fieldwork component takes place in term three when you will travel overseas and spend 7 to 10 days working with various development organisations. The Bartlett Development Planning Unit will cover the following costs of the overseas practice engagement: return flights, visas, travel insurance, accommodation and fees, and costs of local experts and inputs. However, food, local travel and incidental expenses of a personal nature will not be covered by the department.
Discover more about our overseas practice engagements on our overseas practice engagement page.
This highly interdisciplinary course attracts, among others, anthropologists, economists, geographers, lawyers, politicians and public administrators. The strength of the programme lies in its synthesis of participants’ professional backgrounds and academic backgrounds. While the programme attracts development actors with considerable experience, such as civil servants, planners, architects, lawyers, development administrators, activists, and development professionals, it also attracts recent graduates and early career with an excellent track record and critical perspective.
Since the inception of the programme 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. Some graduates also pursue advanced research degrees (e.g. PhDs), while several work as academics in reputed universities or as independent consultants.
Examples of organisations where our graduates are employed include:
- Asian Development Bank
- Christian Aid (UK and West Africa)
- C EMBARQ India - The WRI Centre for Sustainable Transport.
- International Fund for Agricultural Development
- ERM – Environmental Resource Management
- Entremundos, Guatemala
- Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO)
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- Heifer International
- Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
- International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
- JICA – Japan International Cooperation Agency
- Medical Research Council HIV/AIDS Programme (Uganda)
- Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
- Save The Children
- 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)
What our alumni say
“Within the first six months following the course, I became a consultant in rural development for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and worked on climate issues for a DAI-USAID project. Subsequently, I was hired as a Programme Officer (PO) at IFAD to oversee projects related to rural development and agriculture in Colombia and Paraguay. In my role as a Programme Officer, I am responsible for designing, monitoring, and evaluating ongoing projects implemented by national public agencies. Thanks to the DAP program, I have acquired the tools to more effectively approach these tasks both programmatically and theoretically."
I am now working in the business development sector, which translates into the development of internal and external strategies for obtaining funding for development programs.
After the Development Administration and Planning MSc taught me how and why development operates in a certain way, at the end of the course I have the need to understand not only where the money for social development comes from, but to learn how to get it"
“I am planning to serve as Director General (DG), Gwadar Development Authority, Government of Balochistan next year, intending to set the tone for putting the economic activity of the area on reform and development trajectory. I will implement projects that are more focused on water management, electricity, schools, and hospitals of Gwadar.
“Following my graduation from the Development Administration and Planning MSc, I embarked on a career as a Net Zero Transport Analyst at Mitie in London. During this period, I realized that my passion for academia remained undiminished, prompting me to apply for doctoral programs. Consequently, I commenced the MRes/PhD program at Warwick Business School in September 2023."
Watch the video from Development Administration and Planning MSc alumna Kerry to hear about her career trajectory since graduating from our course:
Watch the video from Development Administration and Planning MSc alumnus Yang to hear about his career trajectory since graduating from our course:
Read more about our course team and teaching staff who are held in high esteem by their peers internationally and renowned for their academic thinking and development practice.
- Programme Leaders
Dr Raktim Ray
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Dr Paroj Banerjee
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- Graduate Teaching Assistant
Dr Vafa Dianati
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- Teaching staff
Dr Emmanuel Osuteye
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Professor Julio D Dávila
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Dr Giorgio Talocci
Dr Kamna Patel
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Professor Michael Walls
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Dr Naji Makarem
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- For key information, including how to apply to the Development Administration and Planning MSc, visit the UCL graduate prospectus.
- Can't find what you're looking for? Contact the Development Administration and Planning MSc course team via email: