This programme is likely to appeal to students interested in modelling aspects of cities, social or physical, or in understanding the impact of new technologies on an evolving society. CASA gives students the opportunity to explore a wide range of subjects from complexity to smart cities, from a theoretical or applied perspective pertinent to contemporary problems.
Modes and duration
Full-time students study for 37.5 hours per week. Part-time students normally attend half this amount. Research students are required to be in continuous attendance, apart from periods of leave.
Tuition fees (2020/21)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website.
A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject, is essential. Exceptionally: where applicants have other suitable research or professional experience, they may be admitted without a Master's degree; or where applicants have a lower second-class UK Honours Bachelor's degree (2:2) (or equivalent) they must possess a relevant Master's degree to be admitted. We expect any successful application to include a sufficiently strong and convincing proposal, and those holding a Master's degree are typically well prepared to provide one. Relevant work experience is highly desirable.
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Standard
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
Studying at CASA gives students a unique opportunity to develop research within a strong academic centre, linking different areas, such as geography, mathematics, physics, urban planning and architecture, in collaboration with different national and international universities. CASA also has partnerships with industry and the government, facilitating insertion within these areas.
- Complexity: spatial network analysis, scaling and explanatory mechanisms
- Design and visualisation: GIS and datavis; CAD, multimedia and 3D models; virtual cities; virtual and augmented realities
- Geodemographics: neighbourhood profiling; health; crime; public service delivery
- ICT in society: web-based cities; the spatial organisation of the internet; social media; the Internet of Things
- Simulation: agent-based models, spatial models, land use transportation models.
About this degree
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) consists of a piece of independent research, normally undertaken over a period of three years full-time. Assessment is by means of a thesis, which should demonstrate your capacity to pursue original research based upon a good understanding of the research techniques and concepts appropriate to the discipline.
Initially, you will be registered for the MPhil degree. If you wish to proceed to a PhD, you will be required to pass an 'Upgrade' assessment. The purpose of the upgrade is to assess your progress and ability to complete your PhD programme to a good standard and in a reasonable time frame. It is expected that a full-time student will attempt upgrade within 18 months of registration.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
The MPhil/PhD programme is one of independent research but your Principle Supervisor will establish a timetable of regular meetings with you at which all matters relating to your work can be discussed; such meetings should take place at least once per month.
As a research student, your additional costs may include expenses such as books, conference attendance and field research, in the UK or overseas.
The Built Environment Faculty Office provides financial support to students through the Bartlett Student Conference Fund, Bartlett Doctoral Initiative Fund, Bartlett External Training Fund and Bartlett Extenuating Circumstances Fund. However, please note that these funds are limited and available through competition.
UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
CASA graduates have gone on to work in world-leading universities (in the US at Berkeley, University of California, George Mason, University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University; and in the UK at King’s College London, the Universities of Bristol and Liverpool), where they lecture and set up their own research centres. Graduates moving into the private sector have become key players in geospatial organisations (Transport for London, Dr Foster and AGI) and advisers to large government departments including the Ministries of Defence and Transport, and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Studying for a CASA PhD offers unrivalled opportunities to interact with world-leading researchers in a truly interdisciplinary environment. We frequently host visitors from around the world and encourage attendance at leading conferences across a range of disciplines. There are also opportunities to present and network as part of our seminar series as well as hear about the research of others. Much of our research is applied in the commercial and policy context and so our graduates develop the expertise to secure demanding roles at top-level organisations. Many often return to CASA as visiting researchers to further strengthen our links with the academic, commercial and government sector.
As a part of London's "Global University" there are a huge number of networking opportunities for CASA students to benefit from. We have a weekly seminar series and social event that attracts people from across London to hear about the latest cities research. This provides a relaxed atmosphere in which CASA students can get to know one another and the CASA research network. In addition, our students are encouraged to represent CASA at key events, such as academic conferences, where they become known to the broader community. Finally we are keen to attract funding and students who have commercial or government partners.
Why study this degree at UCL?
CASA is a leading research centre within the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. It has a world-leading PhD programme from which 40 students have graduated during the last 12 years.
Its multidisciplinary perspective, ranging from urban planning and policy, to complexity theory, gives the student a wider overview than more traditional programmes with a specific focus. As a result, many CASA alumni now have successful academic careers, or have become key advisers to government and industry. The programme is intensive as students are encouraged to contribute to CASA’s research community alongside taking any taught courses they may wish to.
In REF 2014 46% of The Bartlett’s research was rated 4* i.e. “world-leading”, with a further 35% recognised as 3* i.e. “internationally excellent”.* The Bartlett submitted the largest quantity of 4* world-leading research outputs (156 items) of any university submitting to the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning sub-panel. On “Research Environment”, which grades the “vitality” and “sustainability” of the research environment, the Bartlett received the highest score for submission to the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning sub-panel.
Department: Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
What our students and staff say
"In my field of study I can learn about the latest technological advances that relate to the urban environment and how to use them to become a better professional."
Flora RoumpaniCASA PhD
"I am inspired by the excitement of innovation and finding the 'shiver down the spine' moment when you know a research idea has the potential to change a sector or to make a real difference in our knowledge and understanding of cities."
Dr Andrew Hudson-SmithThe Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation (ASAV) MRes, Smart Cities and Urban Analytics MSc, and the Smart Cities in CASA MRes.
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
Prospective MPhil/PhD applicants are encouraged to send an informal research enquiry before applying. This should be sent directly to the academic you would like to supervise you. Please refer to the staff list on the department website and see UCL’s Institutional Research Information Service (IRIS) for staff profiles. Please attach to your e-mail a referenced research proposal of around 1,000 to 2,000 words and your curriculum vitae (CV).
Further details on how to apply to an MPhil/PhD can be found on the UCL Graduate Admissions website.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
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