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MSc/Dip Sustainable Urbanism

The MSc/Dip Sustainable Urbanism provides students with both the skills to conceptualise a sustainable city and the ability to design one.

About the course

Our programme offers:

  • a theoretical understanding from a diverse range of disciplines, including sociological, environmental, political and economic theory
  • knowledge of key disciplinary areas including urban design, spatial planning, property development and ecology
  • the aptitude to enable implementation such as creative thinking, negotiation and advocacy

Increasingly, urban professionals are being asked to create sustainable urban environments. This is both conceptually and technically difficult to achieve and requires expertise and skills that are in critically short supply.

The MSc Sustainable Urbanism brings together three critical dimensions of sustainable urbanism:

  • Sustainable thinking: the latest thinking and debates on urban sustainability from policy, research and practice perspectives
  • Sustainable places: the study of what this actually means on the ground through the creation of real projects and places
  • Delivering sustainability: a focus on the skills and knowledge required to actually deliver sustainable development

The programme develops the necessary skills and knowledge necessary in the types of large and complex sustainable urban projects that are increasingly being planned across the world.

Graduates will also be equipped to engage in research, policy and regulatory activities relating to the field.

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Who should apply?

Urban professionals from a range of fields – planning, property, design, landscape and transport – who want to gain understanding of sustainable processes and practices. It’s also valuable for those completing their initial professional training who wish to specialise in this field.


Accreditation

The MSc in Sustainable Urbanism is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It’s also accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), but only when taken as a specialist year after an accredited three-year planning degree.


More information

Structure

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 PT1 before moving on to the modules marked PT2.

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

MSc SU Structure Diagram

Students seeking RTPI accreditation do not take elective modules but instead have to take and pass two extra core modules:

BPLN0055 Planning Practice (15 credits)

And a choice of one of the following two modules:

BPLN0037 Spatial Planning: Concepts and Context (15 credits)

BPLN0038 Comparative Planning Systems and Cultures (15 credits)

Students not seeking RTPI accreditation are free to take any elective modules either within the UCL Bartlett School of Planning or from other departments within UCL. For further details on all postgraduate modules available in the Planning Department please refer to the postgraduate modules page.

Those who enrol for a diploma need to pass all the taught modules (120 credits), but do not take the dissertation.

Compulsory Modules

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

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

BPLN0050 Critical Debates in Sustainable Urbanism
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework

BPLN0051 Sustainable Urban Design
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework

BPLN0058 Sustainable Urban Development: Key Themes
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework

BPLN0059 Sustainable Urban Development: Project
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework

BPLN0016 Sustainable Property: Valuation, Investment, Development
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework and Exam

Dissertation

BPLN0039 / BPLN0052 Dissertation / Major Research Project
Credits: 60
Assessment: Dissertation / Project
 

Elective Modules (for students seeking RTPI accreditation)

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

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

OR

BPLN0037 Spatial Planning: Concepts and Context
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework and examination

AND

BPLN0055 Planning Practice
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework

Field Trip

The MSc programme includes an integral field trip to give students the opportunity to observe and consider sustainability in practice. Various overseas urban destinations offering examples of good practice will be chosen, for example Stockholm, Freiburg, Malmö and Hanover. Site visits, field exercises and guest lectures from built environment professionals, politicians and academics form the core activities.

Content

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.

BPLN0050 Critical Debates in Sustainable Urbanism takes the form of a series of small group seminars in which students have the opportunity to discuss and reflect upon critical debates in sustainable urbanism. This module is designed to support the lecture-based teaching.

BPLN0051 Sustainable Urban Design explores a number of dimensions of the sustainable urban design agenda, including stewardship; resource efficiency; diversity and choice; human needs; resilience; pollution reduction; concentration; distinctiveness; biotic support; and self-sufficiency. A particular emphasis is placed on designing at the level of the large urban site or urban quarter. The module includes lectures by Bill Dunster and colleagues at ZEDfactory Ltd.

BPLN0016 Sustainable Property: Valuation, Investment, Development provides an introduction to theories and techniques used in valuation and analysis of investments in property development from an economic, social and environmental perspective. It looks at the implications of the sustainability agenda and discusses the role of government policy and action for promoting sustainable urban development.

BPLN0058 Sustainable Urban Development: Key Themes introduces some of the key sustainability debates and literature. It broadens students' understanding of the tensions and synergies between environmental, social and economic objectives. It provides a cross-sectoral evaluation of how this manifests in practice, drawing on a range of international case studies. It provides a sound theoretical basis from which students can conduct the sustainable urban development project.

BPLN0059 Sustainable Urban Development: Project has an integrating function as it brings together some of the key contextual and specialist material presented in the earlier module. The aim of the project is to investigate one development/initiative and to analyse its strengths and weaknesses in terms of contributing to the goal of urban sustainability. There is an emphasis on independent and group investigation of the development/initiative.

Dissertation Modules

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

BPLN0039/BPLN0052 Dissertation in Planning / Major Research Project is an opportunity for supported, independent study. Students (in conjunction with an allocated supervisor) will identify a topic/problem/question that they wish to study in greater depth. Over the designated period they will pursue this topic through independent study (reading, data collection, site visits, etc.) supported by regular meetings with their tutor. Output from the module may either be a 10,000 word dissertation or project work equivalent.

Elective Modules (for students seeking RTPI accreditation)

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

BPLN0037 Spatial Planning: Concepts and Context examines the evolution of the planning system in the UK. Particular reference is made to spatial planning policy and spatial plan development, ranging from European to national, regional, local and community practices. This will be contextualised with reference to current statutory rules, regulations and procedures governing plan-making processes and development control decisions.

OR

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.

AND

BPLN0055 Planning Practice promotes an understanding of planning and development practice of both private and public sector agencies, and includes contributions from practitioners.

Staff

Programme Director

Dr Catalina Turcu
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Staff teaching on the programme currently

Professor Matthew Carmona
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Dr Jessica Ferm
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Dr Robin Hickman
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Professor Yvonne Rydin
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Dr Tse-Hui Teh
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Dr Jo Williams
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Dr Filipa Wunderlich
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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

Still can't find what you're looking for? Get in touch with Programme Director and Admissions Tutor Dr Catalina Turcu, or Programme Administrator Andy Heath.

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