The Bartlett School of Planning


MSc Infrastructure Planning Appraisal and Development

Graduates of this programme will be well placed to help create more holistic, robust and sustainable infrastructure project outcomes.

About the course

The MSc programme is one-year full-time or two- to five-year modular/flexible. It’s designed to equip you with the necessary skills to plan, appraise and deliver large-scale and complex infrastructure programmes and projects fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

The course will give you an understanding of:

  • the fundamental characteristics of major infrastructure projects, plans and programmes
  • past and contemporary challenges and trends in infrastructure planning, appraisal and delivery
  • the contribution that such initiatives make to environmental, social, economic and institutional objectives
  • the international, national and regional policies, legislative frameworks and market contexts that surround nationally significant infrastructure development
  • the diversity of stakeholders’ agendas and the inter-relationships and tensions between local, national and global objectives
  • the critical issues concerning sustainable infrastructure investment
  • strategic planning and risk management
  • infrastructure planning and appraisal methods including: Financial, Economic and Social Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA)
  • innovative methods and techniques to infrastructure planning, appraisal and monitoring, including: Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA), Stakeholder and Issue Analysis and policy-led MCA

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Who should apply?

The MSc is beneficial for both new entrants into the field and those currently working in the infrastructure development profession.


The course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a 'specialist' fourth year for graduate students who have successfully completed an RTPI-accredited three-year undergraduate course.

The course is also accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Following successful completion of the course, students are eligible to complete the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) leading to full RICS membership.

The Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) has confirmed accreditation for students who have completed undergraduate studies in an approved engineering school. This enables engineering graduates to satisfy the academic requirements for Chartered Engineer status and corporate membership of:

  • the Institution of Civil Engineers
  • the Institution of Structural Engineers
  • the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation
  • the Institute of Highway Engineers

Why choose The Bartlett?

We offer:

  • direct classroom contributions from over 30 leading experts and senior practitioners from a variety of sectors and disciplines
  • a multi-disciplinary teaching approach and innovative planning and appraisal methods for infrastructure project development
  • an international programme that recognises that any judgements about infrastructure success need to be examined with multiple contexts
  • a shared site with the OMEGA centre, which has recently conducted case studies in mega infrastructure decision-making in ten economies in Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America

More information


The MSc in Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Development comprises eight modules (seven core modules and one elective) and a final dissertation. 

The core modules taken by all students cover the fundamental infrastructure project knowledge areas. Starting from the assumption that the planning, appraisal and delivery of such projects is a multi- disciplinary intellectual field, the teaching approach of the MSc integrates aspects of different core disciplines such as public policy-making and planning, project management, civil engineering, economics, sociology, politics, law and geography that go beyond the ‘disciplinary silos’ usually found in academia and practice.

Lectures are carried out in an interactive manner, favouring participation and discussion around the multiple topics tackled during the lessons, so as to benefit from the different backgrounds of the students and different perspectives drawn from by the lecturers.

The electives allow students to build up an individual specialisation based on their own interests and career objectives. Students can choose an elective from a wide range of thematic topics covering: 

  • public policy
  • spatial planning
  • sustainable urbanism
  • urban regeneration
  • urban design
  • transport planning 
  • project management

Through its Infrastructure Planning Practice exercise the programme also offers an opportunity of role-playing client-professional practice in tackling a ‘live case study’ undertaken with parties from government  and practice who act as proxy clients for the students during the preparation and presentation of their work/findings.  It is here that the new knowledge acquired from core modules is synthesised, integrated and tested in the context of a live problem-solving situation spread over the first two terms.

The dissertation gives students the opportunity to apply their newly acquired knowledge in the production of a final dissertation encompassing an intellectually challenging topic at the forefront of major infrastructure development  research. All students are assigned a dissertation tutor who will offer guidance and support during the preparation and development of their thesis. 

Examples of recent dissertations include: 

  • The Use of Multi-Criteria Analysis in Decision-Making on Mega Infrastructure Projects: - The Case of the Rotterdam Mainport Development Project
  • The Metro as an Agent of Sustainable Urban Development: Choosing the ‘right’ success criteria for the Riyadh metro
  • The analysis of the Winners and Losers of the Hangzhou Bay Bridge Project in China: An examination of the role of PFI in mega infrastructure projects 
  • A Critique of Mega Infrastructure Project Appraisal Frameworks: Lessons for Abu Dhabi megaprojects
  • Mega Transport Infrastructure Projects, their Dualistic Role in Activating Globalization and Promoting long-term Strategic Planning: A comparative analysis of airport rail links in Hong Kong and New York.

Supplementing the course modules, Major Infrastructure Planning Practice and dissertation are individual tutorials offered to students throughout term time to provide rapid response to students questions. Over and above these tutorials, the MSc programme also uses some of its ex-students now embarked on PhD studies in the OMEGA Centre as ‘student mentors’.

For detailed module information, visit the UCL Module Catalogue.

The figure below shows the structure of the one-year full-time MSc programme.

IPAD structure 2023

 The OMEGA Centre 

The MSc in Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Development was originally based on the work of the OMEGA Centre. The programme still draws heavily on the studies undertaken in this field by the centre, informed by the narratives of some three hundred project stakeholders in ten countries and 30 megaproject case studies.  

The OMEGA Centre at the Bartlett School of Planning, established in 2005 and funded by the Volvo Research and Education Foundation (VREF). It sought to address the growing international realisation of the need to better understand what constitutes a 'successful' Megaproject, and how better to enable such projects to meet multiple (sometimes conflicting) objectives given the increasingly uncertain and complex 21st century environments and the need for more sustainable development approaches.

The Centre’s findings concerning ‘successful’ megaprojects were amassed over more than ten years and have significant potential to shape the future planning, appraisal and delivery of major infrastructure projects.  On the basis of its track record the OMEGA Centre has been engaged in strategic advisory work for: the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Actuary Profession; Infrastructure UK, the HM Treasury and the European Investment Bank amongst others.

The OMEGA Seminar Programme

The OMEGA Centre runs an annual Seminar Programme. Launched in January 2009, this programme focuses on important topics concerned with the planning, appraisal and delivery of mega projects and their impacts on development as agents of change. The seminars are open to everyone with an interest in mega or major infrastructure development. They have over the years benefited from numerous internationally and nationally renowned infrastructure experts on a variety of topics.

A selection of the most recent presentations include:

  • Pierre Laconte, Past Secretary General of ISOCARP and IUPT on The Louvain University campus development
  • Prof. Michael Hebert, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL on Cross-Rail 
  • Michael Schabas, First Class Partnership on The Lagos Metro Blue Line
  • Jay Jayasundara, Past Infrastructure Advisor to UK Prime Minister on Politics and Megaprojects
  • Robert Ravelli, Private Consultant on US NE High Speed Corridor
  • John Steward, HACAN on Heathrow’s Third Runway
  • Christian Wolmar, Freelance journalist on Megaprojects, Political Champions and the Media
  • Oliver Sparrow, The Challenge Network on Regulatory Needs for Megaprojects

Core Modules

For detailed module information, visit the postgraduate modules page.

  • BPLN0024: Infrastructures as Agents of Change (15 credits)
  • BPLN0025: Business Cases for Infrastructure (15 credits)
  • BPLN0026: Risk, Uncertainty and Complexity in Decision-Making (15 credits)
  • BPLN0027: Critical issues in Infrastructure Funding, Financing and Investment (15 credits)
  • BPLN0028: Infrastructure Policy, Planning and Consent (15 credits)
  • BPLN0029: Sustainability and Major Infrastructure Investments (15 credits)
  • BPLN0030: Major Infrastructure Planning Practice (15 credits)
  • BPLN0112: Environmental and Social Assessment of Infrastructure (15 credits)


The dissertation is a major and in-depth piece of work undertaken by students across all MSc programmes at the Bartlett School of Planning. The dissertation develops students’ research skills and abilities and allows students to explore a particular area covered in the MSc core or specialist teaching. The dissertation represents a study of a specified topic based on the gathering and analysis of primary and/or secondary data and on a review of the literature.

The student therefore should demonstrate abilities in research topic design, execution and presentation and a capacity for in-depth critical thinking in their chosen area of study. This is the culmination of the Masters programme, the student's chance to synthesise, in a major and largely self-managed study, what he or she has gained from the course and, often, to integrate it with elements from previous studies or professional experiences. The dissertation is something you can take with you, use to demonstrate your expertise and launch the next stage of your career.

Field trips

The programme includes a residential field trip during which themes relevant to the course are explored in different place contexts. This is an opportunity to consider built environment issues in real world settings and network as a course community.

The cost of travel and accommodation for the field trip are covered by UCL although students will need to cover meals and other personal expenses.


Programme Director

Dr John Ward
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The MSc Programme Teaching Group

Professor Harry Dimitriou
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Dr Robin Hickman
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Dr Dan Durrant
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Each module contains between 2 and 8 contributions from leading experts in fields related to infrastructure planning, appraisal and development who are invited to present their practical perspectives to enhance the theoretical content of each module. Contributors to the course to date have included: 

  • Joseph Lowe, HM Treasury
  • Robert Upton, Infrastructure Planning Commission
  • Andrew Hayward, Balfour Beatty Plc
  • Keith Perry, EC Harris International
  • Stephen Potts, Environment Agency
  • Peter Twelftree, Steer Davies Gleave
  • Tom Higbee, Steer Davies Gleave
  • Dr Roger Allport, Imperial College London
  • Eleni Kyrou, European Investment Bank
  • Brian Field, European Investment Bank
  • Chris Lewin, Actuarial Profession
  • Prof. John Adams, UCL
  • Dave Snowden, Cognitive Edge Pty
  • Dr John Stone, Kings College London
  • Prof. Michael J. Batty, UCL
  • Dr Ulf Dahsten, London School of Economics
  • Prof. Sir Peter Hall, UCL
  • Dr Mayer Hillman, Policy Studies Institute
  • Detlef Golletz, Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainability
  • Prof. Andrew Sterling, University of Sussex
  • Jon Wills, formerly of London Underground
  • Peter Head, Ecosequest Trust and formerly of Ove Arup
  • Prof. Willem Salet, University of Amsterdam
  • Niall McNevin, formerly of Olympic Legacy Co., now Mott MacDonalds
  • Oliver Sparrow, formerly of Chatham House

Graduate students from the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London have been very successful in gaining employment from a wide range of both public and private employers following their graduation from the School.

With strong links to industry, government and academia on a global scale, many students have gone on to find placements within the first year after graduation They have taken up positions in fund management, government, international financial institutions, intermational cooperation agencies, investment banking, community development, academia, consulting and the construction industry. A number of graduates have been accepted to undertake PhD studies at UCL and other prestigious institutions. To date, 90% of the 2015/16 MSc intake have gone on to find placements within the first year after graduation. 

Study Field Trip

Students will have the opportunity to visit a selection of some of the most important European infrastructure projects during a one week trip. In this way students will be able to appreciate directly the way that different contexts, including cultural, political and institutional, frame infrastructure decision-making in its planning, appraisal and delivery. In recent years students have visited and received specially arranged presentations from a wide range of senior professionals, civil servants and academics regarding:

  • France’s High Speed TGV network
  • The Rotterdam Central Station
  • The Randstaad Rail and the Maeslant
  • Barrier in the Netherlands
  • The Brussels Station area development
  • The Öresund Link in Sweden and Denmark

In addition to these presentations, students have benefited from presentations from the European Commission in Brussels on EU policies and plans on trans-national mega infrastructure developments and investments.

Still can't find what you're looking for? Get in touch with Programme Director and Admissions Tutor Dr John Ward or Programme Administrator Judith Hillmore.

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