The Bartlett School of Planning


MPhil/PhD Planning Studies

The MPhil/PhD in Planning Studies is designed for graduates of any discipline who wish to make a career in planning or in related fields in teaching or research.

We strongly encourage applications from those who are currently under-represented within our research student community: BAME British applicants; those with disabilities; those wishing to study part-time; and older applicants. We provide a supportive research community with considerable individual guidance and will do all we can to make your time at BSP smooth, enjoyable and productive. We are happy to work with you in the run up to and during the application process. 

From 1st October and for Term 1 only, Professor John Tomaney will be Acting Departmental Graduate Tutor (Research Students). From 1st January, after her sabbatical ends, Dr Susan Moore will be taking over as DGT. 

Enquires in Term 1 should be addressed to J.Tomaney@ucl.ac.uk. Enquiries from Term 2 onwards should be addressed to Susan.Moore@ucl.ac.uk.

About the course

A PhD is awarded for the most advanced level of study available. It shows the ability to devise and carry out a programme of research with originality and critical judgement.

The final product is a thesis of 100,000 words, and an oral examination of the thesis.

More information

Browse the sections below for in-depth details about the programme, or visit our programme overview page for key facts and figures, including how to apply.


In common with a number of other UK Universities, UCL does not admit students directly onto a PhD programme in the first instance, but requires all research students to first enrol for an MPhil degree.

After having completed the first year, the majority of students do not complete the MPhil and instead go through a process of transferring (upgrading) to the PhD programme.

Providing satisfactory progress has been made in the first year, the transfer of registration from MPhil to PhD is usually approved. The normal time allocated for doing this MPhil/PhD programme is three years full time and five years part time.

Activities and Events for Research Students

There are many regular seminar series held at the Bartlett School of Planning which are open to all research students.

In addition, there are a number of initiatives instigated by, or run especially for, research students. Details of these activities for research students can be found on our website. All this contributes to a lively research environment in the Bartlett School of Planning.

Current Research Students

Details of current (and past) research students and their areas of research can be found here.


Prospective applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposed research with a potential supervisor before submitting their formal application. Details of academic members of staff with links to their profile and research interests are available on our website

Careers and employability

Students completing a research degree have been very successful in gaining subsequent employment. Graduates are expected to take jobs with a wide variety of public and private employers in the UK and abroad, including:

  • universities
  • research institutes
  • consultants
  • government organisations
Student events and activities

PhD Grapevine

This is a networking forum open to all UCL research students hoping to make contact with academics at home or abroad on theoretical and practical topics.  It is run by research students at the Bartlett Faculty, and can be accessed at http://myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk/.

Bartlett Think Tank

This is a networking forum supporting the exchange of ideas and knowledge on current academic research in architecture and urban studies.

Lonely Planner Seminars

These are informal talks on places and cultures known to (and organised by) School of Planning research students. The presentation is very often followed by a meal at a restaurant from that culture.  Locations covered have included cities of Iran, Galicia and Ankara. Further details about the seminar series can be found at http://myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk/view/view.php?id=3300.

Bartlett Book Group

This is an informal opportunity to read and discuss a book for pleasure, not work!  The group meets every month and is open to all research students and staff in the Bartlett Faculty.

Conference paper presentations

Departmental funding is available to support research students who wish to present a paper at a conference.  In return, research students are expected to present their paper to the School of Planning as well!  These presentations take place periodically throughout the year.

The University's Graduate School

The School runs a number of events and competitions throughout the year.  This includes a Research Poster Competition and a Research Image Competition which School of Planning research students participate in each year (and on occasion have even won!).  Details can be found at http://www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/comp/.

Bartlett School of Planning Image and Poster Competition

In parallel with the University's Image and poster competition, the Bartlett School of Planning also awards its own competition and prizes to Planning research students who enter the main competition. 

BSP Postgraduate Research Day

The BSP Postgraduate Research Day is held annually, usually in June, and provides an opportunity for both pre-upgrade and pre-submission students to make presentations to their peers and, in the case of more advanced students, to a public audience. 

Funding and scholarships

Bartlett School of Planning students can apply for the following scholarships. Please check the relevant pages for full details and eligibility.

Except for UCL-RES, anyone that requires an offer to meet a scholarship application deadline should allow at least three months from their application for a final decision letter to be issued.

Please see the UCL scholarships page for details of other sources of funding available to students.

Please direct all queries regarding scholarships to scholarships@ucl.ac.uk

Research Excellence Scholarships (UCL-RES)

The new Research Excellence Scholarships (UCL-RES) have replaced the previous GRS/ORS scholarships. Please see full details here:

The School deadline for the scholarships is the same as the main UCL deadline, see links above. Please send all applications and enquiries relating to UCL-RES to Naomi Jones.

UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership

Applications to UBEL are particularly welcomed on the following topics. Anyone interested should contact the relevant academics but please check your eligibility on the UBEL site first.

Diversity and Inclusion in Planning: Professor Claire Colomb c.colomb@ucl.ac.uk and Dr. Yasminah Beebeejaun y.beebeejaun@ucl.ac.uk

Health and Cities: Dr. Catalina Turcu Catalina.turcu@ucl.ac.uk and Dr. Lauren Andres l.andres@ucl.ac.uk

Sustainable Infrastructure and Habitats: a co-evolution approach: Dr. Tse-Hui Teh t.teh@ucl.ac.uk

Greening the City: alternative planning approaches: Professor Yvonne Rydin Y.Rydin@ucl.ac.uk

Cities and Temporary Urbanism: Dr. Lauren Andres l.andres@ucl.ac.uk

Real Estate Pricing, Valuation and Urban Economic Policy: Dr. Tommaso Gabrieli t.gabrieli@ucl.ac.uk

The Bartlett Promise

The Bartlett Promise aims to enable students from backgrounds underrepresented in The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, to pursue a PhD.

Application information

If you are interested in doing a PhD at the Bartlett School of Planning, you must submit a formal application to UCL which should include a research proposal (maximum 3,000 words) outlining:The subject of your proposed research, The questions you hope to answer,  Why you think this knowledge will be of value,  Your intended method and the sources you will use. 

To find out more, please contact Programme Director and Admissions Tutor: Professor John Tomaney, Programme Administrator: Naomi Jones. For queries relating to administrative details of applications (e.g. submission of forms, eligibility, fees, language requirements) please contact: Ms Leanne Taylor (+44 20 3108 6686)

We also welcome applications to do the MPhil as a stand-alone research degree; a shorter proposal (maximum 2,000 words) is required for such applications.

Please note that, in addition to the proposal, the admissions procedure takes account of your general educational background and evidence of academic ability, including references and other material in the application. You may also be interviewed.

How to Apply

Information about how to apply for MPhil/PhD studies can be found on the Bartlett Faculty admissions page.

Before You Apply

Before applying formally, we encourage prospective applicants to discuss their research with ONE potential supervisor. This is to see if there is a supervisor available who is interested in your topic; this is an important process, as finding an appropriate supervisor for your research is a significant aspect of being accepted to do a MPhil/PhD. A potential supervisor may help clarify your research ideas and advise on preparing your research proposal but it is your decision when to submit the application.

It is also important to note that it is not possible to make any commitment to accepting you as a research student at this stage. The recommendation to accept an application is a collective one and not the decision of the potential supervisor alone. The application will be reviewed by the Departmental Graduate Tutor and, if considerable a strong enough application, by two further members of academic staff. There will also be checks by the College and the Faculty.

When contacting a potential supervisor, we recommend that you supply a short (1-2 page) summary of your research idea (including title, specific research question(s), indicative method and any key references) and a short (1-2 page) CV.  You can then work up the research proposal required for the formal application process after any comments that you receive.

If you are unsure who to contact, you are invited to email the Director of Graduate Studies, perhaps suggesting a selection of academic staff who seem to you suitable potential supervisors. She will then advise you. Please do not email multiple members of staff within the Bartlett School of Planning.

Details of academic staff and their research interests can be found here.

Current and recent PhD students/topics can be found here.

Please note that, while it is not essential to nominate a potential supervisor(s) on your application form, it may help to speed up your application process. It will also help if you clearly indicate the school and MPhil/PhD programme to which you are intending to apply (i.e. in our case, the Bartlett School of Planning / MPhil/PhD in Planning Studies). Any gaps and queries in the application will also delay the time taken to process it. Please note that applications received outside of term time will take a little longer to process. You should allow at least 3 months from application to decision. 


Please contact potential supervisors directly for detailed questions about your particular research topic or research proposal. 

The MPhil/PhD Programme Director can help to put you in touch with potential supervisors if you are unable to identify a suitable member of staff yourself. 

For all questions regarding the application procedure, eligibility (including language proficiency), part-time and remote study, fees, timescale, obtaining referees, please contact the Graduate Faculty Clerk:

Ms Leanne Taylor
Email: leanne.taylor@ucl.ac.uk 
Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6686

Visiting research students

Please note that, due to constraints of space and supervisor time, we do not accept Visiting Research Scholar applications unless there is a pre-existing arrangements between the two universities (as with an ERASMUS agreement) or there is prior knowledge of the student’s project by the proposed supervisor (say, through established contact with the student’s supervisor) and a close alignment of research interests. Please also note that all VRS applications must be made through the UCL online system, that a pro-rate fee is payable and that it can take at least 6 weeks for an application to be assessed.

Please contact the Graduate Faculty Clerk for further information:

Ms Leanne Taylor
Email: leanne.taylor@ucl.ac.uk 
Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 6686

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