The Bartlett School of Planning


MSc/Dip Urban Design and City Planning

A unique programme covering both theory and practice within urban design and city planning.

About the course

This programme has a unique focus on urban design as a creative planning tool and the interface between urban design and city planning. It stresses the importance of planning as a positive and propositional force for good, and of urban design as a discipline within which the physical shaping of places is accompanied by an equal concern for their economic, social and environmental well-being.

The programme offers a comprehensive understanding and exposure to urban design theory and practice, with a particular emphasis on its interface with key dimensions of planning, real estate and sustainability. It aims to help students develop an understanding of the quality and diversity of design products and plan-making processes, the ability to think in critical, creative and analytical ways across different dimensions of the city, and the capacity to engage with project work across scales and practice in the fields of urban design and city planning.

Please note that applications for the September 2019 intake will close on 1st April 2019.

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    The MSc Urban Design and City Planning is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

    The PGDip Urban Design and City Planning is also accredited by RTPI, but only for students who have completed an RTPI accredited undergraduate degree in Planning in the UK.

    Why choose The Bartlett?

    We offer:

    • a programme with a unique focus on urban design as a creative planning tool
    • a long-term urban design research specialisation
    • an inter-disciplinary programme that integrates various social science disciplines
    • an international focus, drawing on comparative studies and experiences from other European, North American and Asian countries

    More information


    This MSc programme draws on the relationship between Urban Design - in particular ‘urban place-making by design’ - and aspects of governance, real estate and sustainability. It integrates the following learning areas:

    1. City Planning, with a focus on spatial planning 
    2. Integrative Thinking, with a focus on place-making (neighbourhood scale masterplanning and open space design) and critical debates, offering students a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories associated with urban design
    3. Delivering Quality, which integrates the curricula of urban design, real estate, and sustainability
    4. Planning for Quality, with a focus on the understanding of the various types of urban design products and the complexity of their delivery processes, as well as the understanding and delivery of urban design tools for guidance, incentive and control

    UDCP structure

    To find out more about the following modules, visit the postgraduate modules page.



    Core Modules

    To find out more about the following modules, visit the postgraduate modules page.

    BPLN0035 City Planning (15 credits)

    This module focuses on the importance of physical planning at city, local and neighbourhood scales. In this context, it explores the role and value of planning in the delivery of physical change, by focusing on the reasons why we plan, critiques and theories of planning, and discussing the need for planning in a positive and proactive way. Furthermore, it offers an overview of the most significant debates in urban planning, including the relations between physical and social, environmental and economic goals and approaches to planning, as well as introducing students to delivery processes (collaborative and others) and tools of planning which support plan-making practices, in the context of different planning systems and traditions of planning (UK and overseas).

    BPLN0033 Collaborative City Planning Strategies (15 credits)

    Neighbourhood planning is one of the key innovations brought forward by the reform of the UK planning system. It seeks to allow local communities to make decisions about the future of their area by developing Neighbourood Plans. In London neighbourhood planning faces a key challenge: the development of the technical expertise and evidence base required to prepare plans that can negotiate local needs with the strategic dimension of London’s planning.

    In the context of this “planning revolution”, the module gives the students the opportunity to experience what it means to be a planner in a live context. In groups, students will work collaboratively with existing London’s neighbourhood forums and use planning and spatial knowledge to support their progress towards the creation of a neighbourhood plan. The output of the module consists in a report submitted to the forum.

    In terms of learning outcomes, the module aims to provide students with the competence, confidence and skills required to develop urban plans and spatial knowledge which critically engage with planning as a peopled, political and technical process.

    BPLN0042 Urban Design: Place Making* (15 credits)

    The module provides students with an introductory yet comprehensive overview of urban design theory and provides an opportunity to turn urban design theory into practice through the completion of an urban design project.

    The course illustrates the potential of design as a creative problem solving process, a process necessary to deliver the types of public and private investments in the built environment that will continue to return value to their users and investors over the long-term.

    In achieving this, the course provides a basic grounding for the exploration of urban design issues in greater depth through the Urban Design Specialism (composed by Urban Design: Product, Process and Critique and Urban Design Guidance, Incentive and Control modules below). It also provides a stepping off point for thinking creatively about planning at a larger spatial scale, for more detailed discussions about sustainable urban design and for preparing and implementing regeneration projects.

    * The Bartlett’s own students that have completed the BSc Urban Planning, Design and Management will, in alternative, choose another module relevant to the field of Planning, in consultation with the Course Director. 

    BPLN0032 Critical Debates in Urban Design (15 credits)

    The module will provide students with an opportunity for in-depth reading, reflection and critical discussion around key urban design and spatial planning themes and debates. Students will be able to acquire a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories associated with urban design. An integrated view of urban design and its key areas of knowledge.

    BPLN0031 Design and Real Estate (15 credits)

    The best examples of British urban regeneration are created by collaboration between the development industry, architects and local planners. Through site visits, presentations and critical interrogation, we learn how this is achieved. The absence of municipal master planning in the UK creates opportunity and flexibility for the development sector, but requires unique planning skills to shape projects and represent the needs of the community.

    Students visit 4 areas of major commercial development in Central London and receive presentations from senior property professionals, architects and planners. The course covers key elements of master-planning, architectural design, real estate and project management, which combine to produce successful development projects in London, a world business city.

    Student teams are assigned to one of the featured locations to identify the unique set of characteristics that form its identity as a place. This activity is complimented by gathering information on local transport provision, accessibility and land use and a review of the local planning policies relating to development. These studies inform a final presentation “selling” the key attractions of the location as a potential investment opportunity for commercial development. The combination of team working and concise presentation mirrors the “real world” of real estate.

    BPLN0034 Sustainable Futures by Design (15 credits)

    The module provides students with a holistic approach to all the aspects of sustainability: social, cultural, economic and environmental. It seeks make students reflect on possible sustainable future cities by addressing issues that are currently at the forefront of the debate on urban design and city planning: how to make cities more inclusive, collaborative, consume less resources, interact with nature and, at the same time, strengthen its design and maintain and reuse its heritage. The module combines design and theoretical reflection through a series of lectures, workshops and a design proposal.

    BPLN0056 Urban Design: Layout, Density and Typology (15 credits)

    The module provides an opportunity to critically investigate the spatial characteristics and qualities of the built environment, with a focus on layout, density, and typology, and explore the use of different typologies in the development of design proposals that seek to answer complex urban problems. This project-based module aims to develop knowledge and a range of skills for carrying out urban design investigations and proposals.

    BPLN0057 Urban Design: Guidance, Incentive and Control (15 credits)

    The module focuses on the relationship between design and indirect public sector processes of influencing design outcomes through guidance, incentive and control. The extent to which design is recognised as a legitimate interest planning has been a matter of great controversy dating back to the evolution of the planning system in Britain.

    In reality, the majority of decisions planners make will be design related in one form or other - albeit at very different scales of operation - from those dealing with settlement form, to those dealing with land use mix, to those concerned with detailed design and individual site layout. To that extent planning is undoubtedly a design discipline and planners need to be aware of, and concerned with, the design consequences of their decisions on the ground.

    Planning has sometimes been seen as a reactive, negative and even reactionary process. An engagement with urban design provides the primary means to turn this around, and to create instead a proactive, positive and even visionary decision-making process. This module explores the processes and tools that will enable planners to once again demonstrate the power of the discipline to change real places for the better.

    BPLN0039 or BPLN0052 Dissertation or Major Research Project (60 credits)

    The dissertation or major research project develops students’ research skills and abilities and allows students to explore – in depth – a particular and usually complex area covered in their MSc core or specialist teaching. The dissertation or project 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. 


    Natural disasters as cultural catalysts for city branding and tourism development: based on the case study of Tangshan. A study of academic perceptions of private management in public-private space: How have the Private Management methods of BIDs in Central London affected their public usage?" Privately owned, publically accessible space: Is there a best practice model?


    Programme Director

    Dr Pablo Sendra
    Lecturer in Urban Design
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    Staff teaching on the programme currently

    Elena Besussi
    Teaching Fellow in Plan Making
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    Professor Matthew Carmona
    Professor of Planning and Urban Design
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    Colin Haylock
    Visiting Lecturer
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    Dr Stephen Marshall
    Reader in Urban Morphology and Planning
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    Professor Peter Rees
    Professor of Places and City Planning
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    Dr Richard Simmons
    Visiting Lecturer
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    Dr Michael Short
    Senior Teaching Fellow in Planning
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    Dr Filipa Wunderlich
    Lecturer in Urban Design
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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.

    The MSc Urban design and City Planning is an opportunity for students seeking to further their professional careers to specialise in urban design, and, within that broad arena, to engage deeply with both theoretical debates and practical methodologies, with particular research agendas of direct relevance to the future of their professional practice.

    Relationship to the urban design and planning practice industry

    The MSc Urban Design and City Planning benefits from a close relationship with the urban design and planning practice industry. The programme draws on established links with planning and urban design practices.

    Practitioners are invited each year to lecture, deliver seminars and workshops for the students, and supervise project work as part of several core modules and the final major research project component. The programme frequently receives input from organisations such as Urban Initiatives Studio, Terry Farrell, MacCreanor & Lavington Architects, Croydon and Camden Council, Great London Authority (GLA) – Design for London, Urban Movement, East Landscape Architects, Colin Buchanan, Urban Design Skills, Just Space Network, and others.


    A number of graduates of the programme are employed in urban design, planning or in planning-related jobs, with their employers ranging from private consultancies to local authorities. An increasing proportion (over a third) of our graduates enter consultancy work, whilst others go on to work in either the development and transport sectors, the public sector, or non-profit organisations. A smaller number choose to continue higher degree studies and PhD research.

    The programme strives to maintain a good connection with graduates working in urban design and planning practice in public and private offices in both the UK and abroad. Employers of Bartlett School of Planning graduates include: ARUP, Populous, Croydon Council, WYG Planning & Environment, Gallions Housing Association, Bioregional, Foster and Partners, Urban Initiatives and Movement, and many more.


    UCL boasts a dynamic alumni network of more than 150,000 members. In addition to the UCL network, once you graduate from the MSc programme you will have the opportunity to join the Bartlett School and Bartlett Planning alumni networks on LinkedIn and Facebook. These platforms allow previous students to stay in touch, exchange information, network and attend events specially organised by these groups.


    Still can't find what you're looking for? Get in touch with Programme Director Dr Pablo Sendra or Programme Administrator, Yvonne Sibblies.

    For administrative inquiries about your application please contact the Graduate Faculty Office: bartlett.pgclerk@ucl.ac.uk

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