The Bartlett


My experience at The Bartlett School of Planning

By Sean Lee

I have just wrapped up my second year at the Bartlett School of Planning (BSP) and as I move to my final year, I’d like to highlight certain aspects of my BSP journey that I’m especially grateful for. 

Sean Lee (student blogger) and friends

Academics & Teaching

The first thing I really appreciate is the BSP’s interdisciplinary programme structure, perfect for a profession which increasingly demands cross-cutting thought in addressing complex urban issues. For instance, all first-year planning students take Making Cities, where we collaborate with Bartlett students from other built environment fields (like architecture or construction management), critically analysing a real site in London through the different perspectives and priorities held by various built environment professionals - very much how it’s like in the working world.

One of many London walking tours (as part of the curriculum!) – can you spot the rainbow?

Beyond this, I’m a big fan of the ‘unconventional’ coursework-centric approach adopted at the BSP. As an international student who’s pretty much only seen essays and exam papers all his life, having to produce videos, posters and even mock consultant reports, often in groups, was really fun! For instance, Cities and Social Change got us to contextualise theory in a real-life setting through writing a feature article - for me, this meant getting the chance to explore a new part of my city, interviewing residents and other local stakeholders, and just having a great time overall. 

A lucky shot while doing an urban walk around Tiong Bahru neighbourhood 

Of course, the BSP also benefits from being amongst the best planning schools in the world, with the faculty at the forefront of their respective fields. It’s pretty cool to be able to drop your professors an email when you get confused over a particularly tricky reading, since they wrote it! 


Social Life 

UCL is generally very diverse, and this is more so at the BSP. I’m an international student who’d previously never been to the UK, so I was naturally a little awkward during freshers’ week. But you aren’t alone! My cohort has 60 individuals from 21 countries - an amazing diversity of perspectives and cultures - even as an international student, you’d feel right at home.

We caught the most amazing sunset right after taking this picture!

My favourite time by far still has to be the overseas field trip where our year group spent a week in Porto, Portugal. As part of Urban Lab Skills II, we explored the city and its public spaces to inform our design process for an urban site near UCL, but what I treasured the most was the opportunity to bond with my course-mates. 

Unfortunately, this picture does no justice to the sunset we saw – still really pretty though!

Bartlett Urban Planning Society (BUPS)

BUPS is a student-led departmental society which every BSP student is automatically a member of. It’s been a big part of my journey, as a committee member for the past year (and moving forward into the next!). In general, it aims to inspire, mentor and celebrate our student community.

I’ve had a ton of fun working with these talented people!

Supporting students’ career prospects, BUPS invites speakers from planning and other built-environment related firms like Arup & CBRE to conduct career sharing workshops – I know of quite a lot of friends who managed to snag that elusive internship through these, so do make sure to attend them if you’re interested! There is also HelpHub, an online one-stop shop where you can easily find information on internship openings from various firms.

A typical careers talk – before pandemic restrictions kicked in

Beyond this, BUPS also organises socials for meeting new people and just hanging out with friends. Even with in-person events suspended during the last year, being able to see some familiar faces at the Christmas Party or Coffee Chats was heart-warming. I’m excited to see what kind of events they will come up with, now that we’re finally transitioning back to normality. Fingers crossed that the welcome party in the fall will be in-person - I can’t wait to see everyone!

Our annual Christmas Party in Central House!

For those interested in being updated on the latest BUPS events, the society is very active on Instagram & Facebook where they also hold competitions and giveaways from time to time.

I had a wonderful time at the BSP, and though half that time was spent learning remotely, coming here is a decision I’ve never once regretted. But for all of you reading this – it’s your journey now. What will your story be?

About the author

Hello! I’m Sean Lee, a (soon-to-be!) final year Urban Planning, Design & Management BSc student at The Bartlett. Outside of classes, I’m often hanging out at the planning studio, or soaking in the sights and sounds of London.  Feel free to connect with me, and see you on campus soon! 

Image of student blogger, Sean Lee