The Bartlett School of Planning


MSc International City Planning

The MSc International City Planning gives students an international perspective on planning systems and cultures.

About the course

The MSc International City Planning provides:

  • an integrated programme, with all modules linked by common principles
  • a critical appreciation of the commonalities and differences among a variety of national planning approaches and systems
  • an enhanced understanding of planning as a culturally specific, context-dependent activity
  • a programme dealing with real places and the role of planning in place-making
  • lecture- and seminar-based modules, project work, site visits and the preparation of a 10,000 word dissertation

The main difference between this course and its sister programme, the MSc Spatial Planning, is the strong international and comparative focus.

The international scope primarily includes Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa and the Far East, and increasingly China and Southeast Asia.

There’s less emphasis on developing countries of the Global South (e.g. Africa and Latin America). If you’re interested in planning in that area, look at the MSc programmes offered by the Development Planning Unit.

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Who should apply?

Students who want an international perspective on planning systems and cultures or are likely to work outside the UK.


This course is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

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
  • the opportunity to study the planning system, policies and practices of a particular country in depth through an International Planning Project

More information


The diagram below shows the structure of the one-year full-time MSc programme. The programme can also be taken flexibly over two to five years in which case students would normally complete the modules marked PT 1 before moving on to the modules marked PT 2.

Further details of these modules can be found in the UCL Module Catalogue.

International Planning Structure Diagram

Compulsory Modules

BPLN0002 Pillars of Planning
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BPLN0042 Urban Design: Place Making
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 1

BPLN0038 Comparative Planning Systems and Cultures
Credits: 15
Assessment: Examination
Term 1

BPLN0046 International Planning: Project
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 1

BPLN0040 Critical Debates in International Planning
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 2


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

Specialist Modules

A choice of one of the following pairs. Further details of these modules can be found in UCL's Module Catalogue.

BPLN0063 / BPLN0065 Urban Regeneration Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BPLN0044 / BPLN0045 Planning for Housing Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BPLN0024 / BPLN0027 Infrastructure Projects Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BPLN0056 / BPLN0057 Urban Design Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BPLN0102 + BPLN0049 Governance for Sustainability and Inclusion and Participatory Urbanism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BPLN0102 + BPLN0054 Governance for Sustainability and Inclusion and Climate Change
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BPLN0067 / BPLN0068 Historic Cities
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

CASA001 / CASA008 Smart Cities
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

NB – These modules are run by CASA, a separate department in the Bartlett Faculty and a cap on the number of Spatial Planning students able to take these modules will apply.

Further details of these modules can be found in the Module Catalogue.

Delivery in 2022-23

For the 2021-22 academic year, we have been delivering this programme through ‘blended’ delivery, incorporating some elements face-to-face and some elements online, allowing us to respond to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, for example in case we need to have social distancing in place on the UCL Campus. Elements delivered in person have not been replicated online. Delivery in 2022-23 may also be impacted by the pandemic, however applicants should not expect to be able to complete the programme remotely. Given the practical nature of the programmes we deliver at the Bartlett School of Planning, we do expect the delivery and achievement of core learning outcomes on this degree course to require students to attend in person teaching activity in London.

Field trips

We are hoping to run field trips as part of the programme in 2022-23, however these may be subject to restriction due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, for example we might be able to offer a UK field trip more readily than one to elsewhere in Europe albeit this would normally be our intended destination. Offer holders / enrolled students will be kept updated on our plans.

The trip would normally be based in a European city outside the UK and covers a range of spatial planning themes, linking directly to the Master's programme and to the International Planning Project which students have to prepare in Term 2. Previous field trips have taken place in Berlin and Barcelona.


Programme Director

Dr Sonia Arbaci
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Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Professor Matthew Carmona
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Dr Ben Clifford
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Dr Claire Colomb
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Professor Nick Phelps
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Dr Jung Won Sonn
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Professor John Tomaney
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Professor Fulong Wu
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Dr Fangzhu Zhang
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Careers and employability

Graduate students from the Bartlett School of Planning have been very successful in gaining subsequent employment. There is growing demand for our Masters' graduates from a wide range of both public and private employers. While the main source of employment remains in local government and central government planning and in planning-related consultancy, graduates are also employed in the following areas:

  • housing and transport sectors
  • planning, urban regeneration and environmental agencies
  • public and private utility companies
  • teaching and research

I enjoyed the multi-disciplinary scope of the programme addressing physical planning, urban policy, urban design, transport, sustainability, economics, politics, sociology and many more. There is something for everybody from various disciplines in Built Environment.

Student testimonials

"I found the interactive studio sessions and our field trip to Barcelona for the Strategic Planning project exciting. Our studio groups mixed students from different educational backgrounds and cultures.

The staff are highly supportive with knowledge of multiple subject areas. They tailor the subject areas to the understanding of the wider spectrum of students, and guide you individually as necessary.

Post my graduation, I am working as a Masterplanner at Atkins where I ‘Plan & Design’ cities and neighbourhoods internationally, combining my background in Architecture with Urban Planning and Design.

I use my knowledge of various planning systems and urban theories from the programme in my projects. As part of the programme, I specialised in Sustainable Urbanism, which helps me propose masterplans with a focus on holistic sustainability."

Still can't find what you're looking for? Get in touch with Programme Director and Admissions Tutor, Dr Sonia Arbaci or Programme Administrator, Lotte Bagshaw.