The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Health in Urban Development MSc

The Health in Urban Development MSc produces theoretical and practical knowledge on the interrelationships between health, social justice and development planning in the Global South.

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Course highlights

The Health in Urban Development MSc (HUD) produces an interdisciplinary and critical perspective of the interrelationships between health, social justice and development planning in urban contexts of the Global South.

Our teaching tools include:

  • Interactive sessions with health and development experts which enable discussions of specific topics and provide opportunities to discuss processes employed in this field.
  • Site visits and visiting experts, including an overseas practice engagement in a location in the Global South to provide contemporary real-world perspectives.
  • Progressive contact with world-leading research and practice conducted in the wider department (The Bartlett Development Planning Unit), The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and UCL.

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Course overview

By studying on our course, you will gain the subject-specific knowledge and skills to become a socially-sensitive urban health practitioner who can make links between health and development planning in urban governance (institutions), in the physical (land and infrastructure) and the social (community), and you will be able to develop responses to the challenges of urban inequality, informality and environmental risks.

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

  • The positive and negative effects 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.

Who should apply?

The Health in Urban Development MSc 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. Together, we can promote human-centric responses to challenges such as marginalisation, inequality and environmental degradation.

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Course structure

The course is structured so that:

  • 75 per cent of the course (90 credits) is dedicated to the core subjects of urban health and development planning strategies (parts one and two constitute 15 credits each), to health, social justice and the city (parts one and two constitute 15 credits each), and to the practice module (30 credits), and
  • 25 per cent of the course (30 credits) is dedicated to optional modules from a range of modules offered by The Bartlett Development Planning Unit and from the wider university. Optional modules allow our students to examine different approaches and issues in urban development in accordance with their own particular interests.
Core modules
  • Health, social justice and the city (parts one and two): This module aims to equip students with the knowledge and tools to critically understand the interrelationships between formal and informal urban processes in the Global South, planning, and their effects on health justice. The module will discuss the health effects of urban processes at the level of urban and peri-urban communities and individuals. This module aims to produce an integrative, interdisciplinary, and critical perspective of the interrelationships between urban processes and health disparities in general, and in the Global South in, examining both clinical and spatial dimensions of health such as infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, chronic diseases, social injustice, and violence in cities.  
  • Urban health and development strategies (parts one and two): This module focuses on the key concepts, questions and themes surrounding urban health in an urbanizing world. It explores the relationship between urban living and health across a number of pressing issues, ranging from urbanization to planning and governance, infrastructure and services, poverty and inequality, disasters and climate change, and globalisation. Gender and sustainability are cross-cutting themes. A comparative perspective is developed through the investigation of city case studies, enabling students to explore the urban dimensions of health within and across different contexts. 
  • Urban health: Reflections on practice: The practice module 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. A workshop focussing on research skills for conducting primary research on urban and public health drawing on qualitative and quantitative methods. Based on core modules one and two, this practice module will engage students in projects in a city. The module will translate the knowledge and methodologies into “real case” practice in collaboration with partner organisations and initiatives
  • 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 course. Conducting students’ own research will be supported by learning how to: search literature and plan a research project; use knowledge acquired in the course to critically appraise work; and communicate and justify research results.

For a full description of core Health in Urban Development MSc modules, please visit the UCL Module catalogue.

Optional modules

Subject to availability, you may choose up to 30 credits worth of optional modules from the following list of suggestions from The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) and/or from the wider university.

From the DPU:

  • Urbanisation and Development
  • Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
  • Food and the City
  • The Informal Economy and Urban Development
  • Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options

From wider UCL:

  • Concepts and Controversies in Global Health
  • Research Methods and Evidence for Global Health
  • Power and Politics in Global Health
  • Health Systems in a Global Context
  • Climate Change and Health

Please note 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.

Practice engagements 

Our practice module, 'Urban health: Reflections on practice', translates the knowledge and methodologies from class-based learning and reading into real-life practice. Through engaging with partner organisations and initiatives, we focus our practice of advancing health in urban development on the ways in which planning interventions can be acknowledged as important determinants of population health.


In 2023, the overseas physical engagements (OPE) was held in Marrakech, Morroco in collaboration with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF). Five projects emerged from the OPE in Marrakech. These projects are about: green urban spaces in the city of Marrakech; access and quality of maternal healthcare services to Amazigh women; health concerns of youth studying in universities; water shortage in the region of Marrakech and agriculture and plantation in the region. 

Read the report which presents methodology, findings, and recommendations of each project as put-forwarded by the students: Urban Health: reflections on practice


In 2022, our practice engagement was situated in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where we worked closely with Belfast Healthy City, Queen's University Belfast, East Side Partnership, and City Regeneration and Development in Belfast City Council. 

Watch 'Belfast: urban health in a contested city', the video output from our 2022 practice engagement in Belfast:

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Careers and employability

The Health in Urban Development MSc is designed with your employability in mind. By studying on the course, you will gain strong knowledge and hands-on experience in evaluating, analysing and developing research tools, theory and methodology to advance health in urban development. 

We place a strong emphasis on practical projects that will help you gain the confidence to undertake interdisciplinary projects with unknowns and uncertainties, learn how to coordinate work, integrate across disciplines, and make balanced decisions.

After graduating, our alumni work in interdisciplinary teams in non-governmental organisations and governmental institutions, working on environment and urban health-related projects.

Teaching staff

Learn more about the Urban Economic Development MSc teaching staff:

Programme Leader

Professor Haim Yacobi
View Haim Yacobi's profile

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Qurratulain Faheem

Teaching staff

Dr Donald Brown
View Don Brown's profile

Dr Liza Griffin
View Liza Griffin's profile

Professor Carolyn Stephens
View Carolyn Stephens' profile

More information