The Bartlett School of Planning


MSc/Dip International Planning

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

About the course

The MSc International 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 on our postgraduate modules page.

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 on our post-graduate modules page):

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

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

BPLN0102 + BPLN0049 OR / BENVGPLL + BEPLN0054 Governance for Sustainability and Inclusion
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

Field Trip

All students joining the MSc International Planning will participate in a short field trip in Term 2 of their first year. This trip will be based in a European city outside the UK and will cover 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.


Compulsory Modules

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

BPLN0042 Urban Design: Place Making provides an introduction to urban design through lectures and a series of projects. The module aims to illustrate the potential of design as a creative, problem-solving process and the potential of planning as a 'positive' discipline able to exert a powerful and valuable influence on the overall shape and character of the built and natural environment.

BPLN0002 Pillars of Planning explores the key concepts and theories underlying the study and management of cities and society through the integrated study of urban economics, sociology, politics, urban governance and environmental management. It looks at the use of social science concepts as analytical and conceptual frameworks for the understanding of issues and policy. The focus is on the integration of social science knowledge to develop confidence in the selection and use of appropriate concepts.

BPLN0040 Critical Debates in International Planning takes the form of a series of small group seminars in which students have the opportunity to discuss and reflect upon critical debates in spatial planning. It is designed to support the lecture-based teaching.

BPLN0038 Comparative Planning Systems and Cultures focuses on planning in a cross-national comparative context and examines the different approaches to, and systems underlying, planning in different national contexts.

BPLN0046 International Planning Project involves a strategic planning exercise in a European (non-UK) city, and includes a short field trip in February. In 2009-2010 the case study city was Berlin. After studying the spatial planning context and issues facing the area, students work in small groups to prepare a 'spatial concept plan' for a large-scale site in the city.


BPLN0039 Dissertation is a record of original work (approximately 10,000 words) linked to international planning. Submission of a dissertation is required by the end of year 1 (full-time) or the end of year 2 (modular/flexible).


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

URBAN REGENERATION is concerned with innovation, urban and regional economic development and regeneration. These issues are analysed in the context of development economics, the new space economy, the agglomeration of innovative high-technology industries, the concepts of the innovative and creative milieu and emerging forms of urban governance. It comprises two modules:

  • BPLN0065 Urban Problems and Problematics focuses on the theoretical framework for the understanding of the spatial and socio-economic dynamics of contemporary cities.
  • BPLN0063 Case Studies in Preparing Regeneration Projects is a structured project in which students are invited to apply the theory and develop their own strategies for the regeneration of a locality.

URBAN DESIGN is divided into two parts reflecting the two primary means through which planners engage in urban design - first as members of a collaborative design team, who advise on design proposals, and second as policy and guideline writers:

  • BPLN0056 Urban Design: Layout, Density and Typology examines the design process through analysis, critique and the generation of alternatives for site-specific design projects.
  • BPLN0057 Urban Design: Guidance, Incentive and Control addresses the process of design guidance writing and implementation through a group project.

PLANNING FOR HOUSING examines the context for and process of residential development in the UK and is divided into lecture-based and project-based components and comprises two modules:

  • BPLN0044 Planning for Housing: Process 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, then looks at the residential development process from strategic and development planning, land acquisition to development viability.
  • BPLN0045 Planning for Housing: Project challenges students to apply their knowledge of development drivers, actors and practices to real-life housing development opportunities in London. Working in small groups, they will co-ordinate the completion of a comprehensive feasibility study and housing development brief for a specific site.


  • BPLN0024 Infrastructures as Agents of Change defines the overarching characteristics of infrastructure projects, programmes and plans of various kinds and examines their roles as agents of change.
  • BPLN0027 Critical issues in Infrastructure Funding, Financing and Investment provides an opportunity for in-depth reading, critical reflection and discussion around key themes and debates in the planning, appraisal and delivery of infrastructure projects.

GOVERNANCE FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND INCLUSION consists of a variation of three modules:

  • BPLN0102 Governance for Sustainability and Inclusion provides students with an understanding of how broader governance processes for the urban scale can deliver more sustainable and inclusive outcomes, including an appreciation of the role of different policy instruments and policy integration. The module also aims to develop critical awareness of the politics and governance mechanisms shaping more sustainable and inclusive cities, through a theoretically-informed exploration of issues and debates surrounding environmental and urban policy at local, national and international scales. The module explores the substantive yet contested role of public participation to explore the opportunities and challenges of more inclusive forms of policy-making and the implications for sustainability.
  • BPLN0049 Participatory Urban Planning Project introduces students to the tools available to engage communities and the ways participation can work in practice alongside the challenges and failures of participatory practice.  The module considers a range of techniques and contexts for participation through workshop style discussions. These are critically framed by consideration of the role and place of the built environment professional in relation to participation practice. 
  • BPLN0054 Governance for Urban Sustainability: Project aims to provide students with an understanding of the complexities of developing and implementing policies, projects and initiatives for urban sustainability in specific contexts through deploying different governance approaches and policy instruments.

Smart Cities Theory and Practice consists of two modules. Both modules are run by the Centre for Applied Spatial Analysis as part of their MSc Smart Cities and Urban Analytics:

  • CASA001 Urban Systems Theory will provide you a comprehensive introduction to a theory and science of cities. Many different perspectives developed by urban researchers, systems theorists, complexity theorists, urban planners, geographers and transport engineers will be considered, such as spatial interactions and transport models, urban economic theories, scaling laws and the central place theory for systems of cities, growth, migration, etc., to name a few.
  • CASA008 Smart Cities: Context, Policy and Government will provide you a perspective of smart cities from the viewpoint of technology. It will provide a context for the development of smart cities through a history of computing, networks and communications, of applications of smart technologies, ranging from science parks and technopoles to transport based on ICT.

HISTORIC CITIES consists of two modules:

  • BPLN0067 Planning Discourses for Urban Development in Historic Cities and Neighbourhoods aims to develop the students’ ability to gain knowledge of the dynamics of changing discourses when planning for urban development in historic urban settings, and to foster critical reflection about the varied dimensions at play in the management of historic cities, the varied agents and actors with overlapping interests in historic urban settings, and the evolution of seminal concepts in planning for conservation discourse(s).
  • BPLN0068 Planning Practices for Urban Development in Historic Cities and Neighbourhoods aims to develop the students’ ability to critically chose, adapt and apply different methods and methodologies in assessing the significance of heritage assets on an area basis, and the understanding of strengths and limitations of particular methods and methodologies.

Programme Director

Dr Susan Moore
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Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Dr Sonia Arbaci
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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 Dr Susan Moore, Admissions Tutor Dr Qiulin Ke or Programme Administrator Nina Jasilek.