UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


MSc Transport and Mobility Systems

This programme equips the next generation of transport and mobility leaders with the knowledge and skills required to create systems that are sustainable, accessible, equitable and works for everyone.

The new MSc Transport and Mobility Systems replaces the well-established and successful Intercollegiate MSc Transport run jointly with Imperial College London for over 40 years. The programme is newly conceived to meet the emerging needs in Transport and Mobility systems and delivered by the Centre for Transport Studies at UCL that has a long-standing reputation as a leading education provider and research centre within the field of transport studies.

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Welcome to the MSc in Transport & Mobility Systems! In this programme, students will:  

  • Learn how to create and lead transformative transitions in mobility from today to the future.
  • Bring different themes together to answer complex challenges and take account of how these unfold over time.
  • Be transformative in the way you learn as well as in the way you apply that learning. 
  • Be ready for changing world, where nothing is certain except that it will be different.

TMS structure themes

To find out core information about this degree, such as entry requirements, programme length and cost, and to apply, visit the UCL prospectus site.

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Applying for courses can be daunting, so we’ve made this guide to help you through. 

Programme information

The programme adopts innovative approaches to tackling the transport challenges we face at multiple scales ranging from micro-street-level issues to macro-level global matters such as climate change. The programme covers technical and social aspects of transport systems to prepare students to become future leaders and decision-makers in the transport field. By the end of the programme, students will be equipped to deal with complex socio-technical systems and behaviours and to manage the rapidly changing and disruptive landscapes of new transport technologies and business models considering the needs of people and the planet in the future. Furthermore, the programme will also provide a strong foundation for students wishing to pursue doctoral research in transport and mobility. 

This multi-disciplinary programme was designed and delivered by CTS staff members with research expertise covering all aspects of Transport and Mobility, backgrounds in Engineering, Geography, Psychology, and the Arts and Humanities. Students will get the opportunity to experience this multi-disciplinary learning environment through opportunities to work with local communities and communities of professionals to solve problems related to transport and mobility systems; guidance to generate solutions using systems-thinking, grounded by strong theory, research and evidence; and achieve this through a combination of blended learning incorporating studio-work, project-based work, involvement in research, and tutorials.

Core modules provide a foundation in transport and mobility systems, with optional modules covering four themes in more detail: (1) Health and Behaviour Change, (2) Shared and Mass Transport Systems, (3) Sustainability and Resilience, and (4) Intelligent Mobility.

Programme Structure

Students will take five core/compulsory modules, two optional modules and one or two research projects leading to a final dissertation(s). 

Compulsory modules

Transport system transitions (30 credits, T1 and T2)

This module traces the history of movement in relation to the needs of people, from the original period of settlement through to the introduction of technologies, such as roads, railways, shipping and air, to the present day. This will be set alongside the techniques used for analysing their performance and assessment, horizon-scanning and scenario planning. Then the module shifts to the purpose of preparing students to be the imagineers of the future, by considering techniques for future-casting, consideration of black/grey swans, team building and project creation, the embedding of principles such as sustainability, accessibility in the thinking and design of transport and mobility systems using a group project as the basis for learning and assessment.

Mobility, people and society (15 credits, T1)

This module discusses the contribution of transport and mobility systems to the functions of cities, regions and society in general. It explores the motivations, capabilities, opportunities and constraints that influence individual travel behaviours and the factors that influence changes in mobility patterns in a variety of different spatial and economic contexts. 

Transport and the environment (15 credits, T1)

This module will examine the links between environmental, energy and transport issues. The module will critically analyse the environmental impact generated by transport systems. It will examine the opportunities & challenges to decarbonise transport systems, across various modes of transport, and establish zero-emission mobility systems. It will investigate transport’s environmental impact, including air quality issues. The module will also explore the links between energy and transport systems.

Transport infrastructure and its operation (15 credits, T1)

This course provides students with a grounding in the subject of traffic infrastructure and its operation, including all surface transport modes, from local to national levels. It begins by introducing the basic operational and engineering requirements for railways, ports and public passenger transport infrastructure; it then focuses more specifically on road infrastructure operation. The second half of the course focuses on busy urban streets, looking in more detail at street performance, street functions (Movement and Place), street users and their design requirements.

Transport policy, governance and economics (15 credits, T2)

This module will examine policymaking, decision-making, and economic processes related to transport and mobility at the supranational, national, and sub-national level, with a specific focus on transitioning mobility systems towards increased sustainability and zero emissions. The module will critically analyse the nature and process of formulating transport policies and examine interactions between transport policy and other policy areas. Students will gain an understanding of traditional economic theory and appraisal (including cost benefit analysis), and critically assess the role it plays in the provision, operation and governance of transport systems. Finally, the module will introduce different policy frameworks and economic frameworks focused on sustainability and resilience.

Optional Modules 

Students choose two optional module (30 credits) and are encouraged to select pairs of optional modules to fit one of the following themes:

Health and Behaviour Change

Transport and health (15 credits, T2)

The module aims to explore the interactions between transport, mobility and health through a public health lens looking at the impacts of transport on population health and wellbeing and how these reduce or increase health inequalities across the life course for different demographic groups, including differences in capabilities resulting from health or other characteristics

Transport and behaviour change (15 credits, T2)

This module will provide insight into the state of the art of transport behaviour change, both well-established practices (such as speed limits) and relatively new ones (such as personal travel planning). And it will encourage you as a student to take the practice forward by applying your knowledge of behaviour change theory to the development of an intervention.  Each lecture will include case studies to illustrate topics and provide the basis for discussion and critique.

Shared and Mass Transport Systems

Shared mobility and mass transit systems (15 credits, T2)

This module provides students with concepts and skills to plan and operate new shared mobility and mass transport businesses and systems, as well as to make changes to existing systems.

Railway engineering and planning (15 credits, T2)

The student will gain basic data analysis and modelling skills to perform urban railway planning, operation management and engineering. Through the module, the student will understand how to conceptualise, analyse and model complex railway systems. The module focuses on analytical and modelling skills required for urban railway planning and analysis. The contents can include: timetabling, train operation models and simulation, passenger crowd modelling, performance analysis and evaluation. The module includes guest lectures by the urban railway practitioners.

Sustainability and Resilience

Interdisciplinary thinking in urban sustainability and resilience (15 credits, T1)

The module explores different understandings of sustainability and resilience and how these differences lead to different practical outcomes. The module will also discuss some of the key challenges facing cities and offers an introduction to the role of interdisciplinary thinking and research in addressing these.

Risk, reliability and resilience (15 credits, T2)

The reliability, risk, and resilience of engineered systems are becoming ever more critical considerations as the climate changes, human population grows, and our societies become more urbanised. This module is intended to provide a fundamental but comprehensive grounding in the concepts of reliability, risk and resilience in engineered systems. It is crucially important that future generations of civil engineers are equipped with the appropriate tools necessary to quantify and maximise reliability, minimise risk, and enhance structural and infrastructural resilience as they work to shape the urban landscape in the coming years and decades

Intelligent Mobility

Data-driven decision-making for infrastructure systems (15 credits, T1)

This module will introduce data science tools and techniques to investigate problems related to infrastructure systems. The problems investigated in the course will span five topic areas in data science: choice modelling, machine learning, optimization, spatial data analysis and visualization, and time-series analysis. These concepts will be taught using specific case-studies, with students working on real-life examples.

Towards intelligent mobility (15 credits, T2)

This module provides an overview of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) including both road- and non-road-based CAVs (e.g., cars, buses, pods, drones). The module will look into the potential benefits and drawbacks of deployment of CAVs on the society and on the environment beyond the claims of technology developers, the potential barriers to large-scale CAV deployment, and the implications for cybersecurity, ethics, safety and regulations. The decision-making process of humans will be explained and compared to the decision-making process of automated systems in order to understand the requirements for a successful interaction between CAVs, infrastructure and other users.

Dissertation/Research project

All students undertake either one long research project (min 60 credits) or two shorter research projects (max 60 credits) producing dissertation(s) from the following selection:

Research Project (60 credits, T3)

Students will work on an individual research project on a topic selected from an approved list. The objectives of the research project are:

  • To further enhance your knowledge of one particular area of the subject you are studying.
  • To demonstrate your understanding of the subject at a higher level than has been possible during the taught part of the course.
  • To demonstrate your ability to think originally and analytically about problems in your subject, and to synthesise ideas from current literature.
  • To demonstrate your ability to design a research project, carry out research and solve problems independently.
  • To enhance your written and oral presentation skills.
Business Case Dissertation (30 credits, T3)

Engineering systems require enhancement, replacement, decommissioning and in general the production of business cases that evaluate the benefits of investment. This topic is important for engineers intending to continue in a management role in infrastructure (transport, energy, water, waste or telecommunications). This module covers areas such as the key determinants of infrastructure investment and how they relate to business case development, methods of financing and delivery, stakeholders, the processes of risks modelling and infrastructure asset management. It is not focused on infrastructure investment and finance, but on the case for adaptation when infrastructure is already operational. Students will be expected to take leadership in their own learning, and implement the skills used in earlier terms of their masters course to reflect on the role of adaptation and underpinning business cases for the improvement of infrastructure engineered systems.

PEARL Dissertation (30 credits, T3)

Engineering systems and in particular (although not exclusively) transport systems interact with people at the point of use, and indirectly through their outputs, such as noise, pollution, and vibration. People experience this interaction with engineered systems, such as trains, in different ways, depending also on individual characteristics, such as age, mental capacity, and impairments. Alternative methods for design of engineered systems can radically improve sensory experiences but often the design improvements are unclear and require experiential testing. The PEARL facility, a UKCRIC national facility for infrastructure research, provides a laboratory environment to undertake such testing.

This module covers hands on experience in the facility, based on an extant PEARL project at the time of the students work, allowing monitoring and data collection, and reporting through appropriate research methods, on the results of experiments toward improved infrastructure services. Students will be expected to take leadership in their own learning, and implement the skills used in earlier terms of their masters’ course to reflect on the consideration of people sensory experiences for the improvement of infrastructure engineered systems.

Public Policy Dissertation (30 credits, T3)

The need for engineers to understand the public policy implications of engineering solutions is essential for engineers intending to have a role in governance. This module covers areas such as regulation, deregulation and unbundling, privatization, competition, policies and policy transfer, social equity, and various other strategies for fair critical infrastructure services’ provision. Students will be expected to take leadership in their own learning, and implement the skills used in earlier terms of their masters course to reflect on the role of public policy for infrastructure engineered systems.

Please note that the list of modules given above is indicative. This information is published in advance of enrolment and module content. Their availability is subject to change.