The Bartlett School of Planning


MSc Housing and City Planning

A programme for urban professionals and graduates from the fields of planning, property, architecture and project management who are looking to specialise in the area of housing development.

Shelter is one of the most basic human needs, but the provision of that shelter - i.e. the development of enough housing of the right type and quality, in the most appropriate locations - is a challenge that few, if any, governments in the developed world have fully addressed.

Planning systems do not always direct new housing to the right places; and the old housing that societies inherit - or even the new housing that is being built - is only very rarely as good as it could be.

The quality of housing development needs to be judged against several key benchmarks. It needs to be part of the solution to the environmental challenges that all societies face - it must contribute to a sustainable future; it needs to be delivered in a way that contributes to achieving social justice - it must be accessible and affordable; and it needs to satisfy basic human requirements - it must have the potential to function as a home.

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About the course

The MSc Housing and City Planning brings together three critical perspectives - in three linked streams - on the housing question, examining how planning policy and practice contributes to the wider environment for development; how housing development is financed and managed; and how new housing may have a lighter environmental footprint, and older housing retrofitted to lessen its impact:

  • Planning for Housing: examines the role and nature of planning through application to housing development. In this stream the potential and shortcomings of planning in delivering development will be explored, initially through a wide-ranging overview of the sector, and subsequently through engagement in a live project;
  • Sustainability and Design: examines the sustainability of homes themselves and housing within its broader design / built environment context. The first half of this stream deals with sustainability in new-build housing, extending to a consideration of sustainable neighbourhoods and cities, linking therefore to the planning for housing core theme. The second half deals with low energy housing retrofit, recognising that it is existing homes and buildings that have the greatest capacity to contribute to future energy use and carbon reductions;
  • Development Economics and Project Delivery: concerned in its first part with the financing and economics of speculative development (as a central plank of housing delivery), and in the second half with the management of the delivery process.

The programme examines development from multiple perspectives: examining its regulatory context; seeing it as a project, large or small, to be financed and managed; and viewing it also as an opportunity to contribute to broader environmental and social goals through good design. It aims to provide a rounded perspective on housing development, imparting a critical understanding from planning, design and project-management perspectives.

It delivers critical understanding and a range of key skills. Graduates from the programme will have demonstrated their ability to work within the regulatory context, developing realistic proposals for housing development that are feasible in terms of policy compliance and financing. They will also have an in-depth understanding of housing design and retrofit and will be able to relate these to the management and financing of projects.

The programme is directed to urban professionals and graduates from the fields of planning, property, architecture and project management who are looking to specialise in the area of housing development.


The MSc Housing and City Planning is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and has specialist accreditation from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as the final-year of study in a 3+1 integrated route.

Further information on accreditation and routes to membership can be obtained from these bodies.

Why choose the Bartlett?

We offer:

  • a programme that draws on UCL's position as a leading research-led university
  • an opportunity to acquire a broad range of skills and knowledge, while setting foot on the path towards specialisation
  • a principle- and theory-driven programme giving both conceptual understanding and the skills needed to tackle practical problems

More information


The diagram shows the structure of the 1 year full time MSc programme. The programme can also be taken flexibly over 2 to 5 years in which case students would normally complete the modules marked P1 before progressing to the P2 modules.

Students must agree an appropriate pair of optional modules (from all 'open' modules offered within the Faculty of the Built Environment) with the Programme Director.

Students who enrol for a Diploma must pass all the taught modules (120 credits) but are not required to complete a dissertation.


Compulsory Modules

Further details of these modules can be found on the postgraduate modules page.

BPLN0044 Planning for Housing: Process
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 1

BPLN0045 Planning for Housing: Project
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 2

BENV0041 Sustainable Housing Design: Principles
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 1

BENV0039 Low Energy Housing Retrofit
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 2

BPLN0019 The Economics and Finance of Housing Development
Credits: 15
Assessment: Unseen Exam
Term: 1

BPLN0018 Management of Housing Projects
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 2


BPLN0039 Dissertation in Planning
Credits: 60
Assessment: Dissertation
Term 3 and summer

Elective Modules (for students seeking RTPI accreditation)

BPLN0037 Spatial Planning: Concepts and Context 
Credits: 15
Assessment: Examination
Term: 1

BPLN0020 Critical Debates in Housing Development
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 2

Students not seeking RTPI accreditation are free to take any elective modules from across the Faculty, with the consent of module coordinators. But it is important that the choice of elective modules is made in consultation with the Programme Director for the MSc Housing and City Planning.


Compulsory Modules

Further details of these modules can be found on our postgraduate modules page.

BPLN0044 Planning for Housing: Process (15 credits) – begins by looking at the drivers of residential development including the demographics of growth. It considers who provides housing and the evolution of the UK policy context and its current objectives. The component then looks at the residential development process from strategic and development planning and land acquisition to development viability. The lecture programme is divided into 3 parts: concerned firstly with broad perspectives on housing growth, policy and planning; secondly with housing providers, processes and delivery; and thirdly with critical debates and outcomes today. 

BPLN0045 Planning for Housing: Project (15 credits) – challenges students to apply and extend their knowledge of development drivers, actors and practices in to real life housing development opportunities in London. Via small group organisation, students will co-ordinate the completion of a comprehensive feasibility study and housing development brief for a specific site. Groups will be allocated strategic mandates reflecting the current policy contexts and objectives explored in Planning for Housing: Process and will then plan, design and initiate the implementation of a development scheme from a selected development actor perspective, reflecting tenure, design and organisational intentions. Schemes will be collectively proposed and managed and then presented by each team to an audience of peers, staff and relevant experts in the field. 

BENV0039 Sustainable Housing Design: Principles (15 credits) - The aim of the module is to introduce students to the latest techniques, and research on how to design, build and operate sustainable housing throughout the world. The module will equip students with a rounded background in the principles of sustainable housing design and will focus on producing new, sustainable housing in different climates. Students will consider what sustainability means, how different climates affect designs and also how to overcome barriers that prevent schemes from becoming successful. The module is self contained and be suitable for students from other faculties who need to have a strong theoretical background in this area, and especially for the MSc Housing and City Planning.

BENV0041 Low Energy Housing Retrofit (15 credits) - This module provides a detailed understanding of the key issues surrounding the retrofitting of existing homes with insulation and systems to reduce energy consumption. The module tutors use the Passive House Planning Project (PHPP) as a framework for assessing case study retrofits, with site visits where practicable. The module follows on from the Sustainable Housing Design module, which introduces non-architects to design practices which are re-examined, and critiqued, in this module. 

BPLN0019 The Economics and Finance of Housing Development (15 credits) - The aim of this module is to introduce students to key concepts in economics, finance and the valuation of property which are most relevant to Housing Projects. Students will learn the basics of investment appraisal, the financial structure of firms and the economics of housing markets. They will also be introduced to the economic context of and institutions involved in housing.

BPLN0018 Management of Housing Development Projects (15 credits) - The aim of this module is to introduce students not only to the usual tools and techniques of project management but also to a more holistic approach to the subject. This stresses the importance of the front end of the project as well as the critical nature of managing relationships between people and organizations in good project management. This approach also emphasizes the relationship between the project and the strategic objectives of the client organization. The module will illustrate these issues with examples from housing development projects and consider how the wider issues of sustainability can be properly integrated into project decision making processes.

Dissertation Module

Further details of these modules can be found on our postgraduate modules page.

BPLN0039 Dissertation (60 credits) – gives the student an opportunity for supported, independent study. The module begins with three Planning Research lectures towards the end of term one and a series of weekly workshops in term three which provide an understanding of the way in which successful research is undertaken, introducing a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies and assisting the student develop the skills required to produce a self-contained piece of original research. During term two, the student (in conjunction with their tutor) will identify a topic/problem/question that they wish to study in greater depth. Following the submission of a 1,000 word research proposal, students will then pursue this topic through independent study (reading, data collection, site visits etc.) supported by regular meetings with their tutor, leading to the final submission of a 10,000 word dissertation.

Elective Modules 

Further details of these modules can be found on our postgraduate modules page.

Students are free to take any elective modules from across the Faculty, with the consent of module coordinators. But it is important that the choice of elective modules is made in consultation with the Programme Director for the MSc Housing and City Planning.

Field trip

Students will usually participate in a field trip in term 2. However, for students commencing their studies in September 2020, we cannot guarantee that this opportunity will be permitted, or can be made safe and viable. We are working on the basis that non-UK group travel will be highly unlikely, but we will continue to explore possibilities for UK-based trips later in the year. We are also exploring options to provide alternative enhancements to your programme if travel is restricted. Once we have more information, we will contact all involved, but you should not anticipate non-UK travel being a part of your programme in 2020-21.

The field trip would usually be aimed at giving students the opportunity to observe examples of good (and bad) practice in housing development and housing design. Field trips involve students being introduced to development projects by local experts, drawn from academia, local government, private enterprise or local politics.


Programme Director

Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin
Director of Housing and City Planning
View Iqbal's profile 
Send Iqbal an email

Staff teaching on the programme currently include

Professor Nick Gallent
Professor of Housing and Planning
View Nick's profile 
Send Nick an email

Dr Ben Croxford
Send Ben an email

Careers and employability

Graduate students from the Bartlett have been very successful in gaining subsequent employment. At present there is a growing demand for our Master’s graduates from a wide range of both public and private employers in the UK and overseas. Many graduates have taken up posts in local and central government planning; others have moved into planning related consultancies.

Past students have found employment in numerous specialist sectors: in housing and transport; planning, urban regeneration and environmental agencies; public and private utility companies; and also in teaching and research.

As well as preparing students for careers in planning practice and housing delivery, all of our programmes offer an introduction to research and to key research skills. These skills are developed and tested through completion of a dissertation, which demonstrates the graduate's capacity for independent thinking and working.

Still can't find what you're looking for? Get in touch with Programme Director and Admissions Tutor Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin, or Programme Administrator: Nina Jasilek.