The Bartlett Development Planning Unit conducts world-leading research and postgraduate teaching that helps to build the capacity of national governments, local authorities, NGOs, aid agencies and businesses working towards socially just and sustainable development in the Global South.
Modes and duration
Full-time students study for 37.5 hours per week. Research students are required to be in continuous attendance, apart from periods of leave to be taken in line with UCL staff holiday entitlements.
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:
Currently the DPU has four research clusters, each with sub-clusters which reflect the development of different, but intersecting, strands of their work. MPhil/PhD students are strongly encouraged to participate in one or more of these clusters:
- Urban transformations explores the multiplex urban transformation processes and its aim is to explicitly increase the room for manoeuvre for a variety of city actors to harness key levers of transformatory change;
- Environmental justice, urbanisation and resilience explores so-called 'urban transitions' faced by the Global South, by unearthing emergent relationships and contradictions between resilience and environmental justice in the contemporary geographies of capitalist urbanisation and accumulation;
- Diversity, social complexity and planned intervention comprises two overlapping sub-clusters, dealing in different ways with the relationship between social diversity, development processes and planned interventions;
- State and market governance and policy in development provides a forum for discussion and the development of collaborative research ideas on long-term approaches to the governance of development transitions.
About this degree
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) consists of a piece of supervised 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.
Most doctoral research includes a period of fieldwork in a country relevant to the research, during which the MPhil/PhD candidate acquires a thorough knowledge of the context and collects primary data.
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.
Recent PhD graduates have gone on to work in a range of positions, mostly based in the Global South. These include lectureships in leading universities, postdoctoral research projects, international development institutions (e.g. Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank), government ministries and international non-governmental organisations. Others work in private consultancy firms.
Our programmes are practically orientated, providing students with the academic skills they will require after graduating but also with a wide range of real-world skills, e.g. report writing and public speaking.
The Bartlett Development Planning Unit supports networking with individuals (including alumni), community organisations, governmental and intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, and public sector institutions which share the DPU vision, and our graduates pursue a wide range of occupations within these areas.
Why study this degree at UCL?
Our MPhil/PhD programme will allow you to pursue independent research into the political, economic, social and institutional dimensions of development planning. Our research and teaching staff are a multi-disciplinary group, with extensive academic and professional experience in various fields of urban, regional, environmental, social and institutional development throughout the world.
As a research student, you will have access to a large range of world-class libraries, including those in UCL and other London universities, and the close by British Library. Also, you will have the opportunity to attend an array of specialised lectures and other events in central London.
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: Development Planning Unit
What our students and staff say
"The students at the DPU come from many international locations and backgrounds, which means we are always hearing about developments in different parts of the world from people who have first-hand experience of them, whether this is in Syria, Indonesia, Congo or Brazil."
Dr Vanesa Castán BrotoEnvironment and Sustainable Development MSc, Urban Development Planning MSc, Development Planning MPhil/PhD
Lecturer in Environment and Sustainable Development
"I examine recent changes in cities of the (so-called) Global South, with a particular interest in how local governments can design and implement sustainable, more inclusive policies that seek to counterbalance long-term trends towards income inequality and spatial fragmentation. Because of the complex nature of cities, this work is inevitably multi-disciplinary and UCL provides a fantastic platform for it. I have the opportunity to interact with some of the top minds in my field, and to learn from the cutting-edge science that is being carried out in London, including UCL. The energy and diversity of activities within UCL and my own department is something that fills me with awe and pride."
Professor Julio DavilaMSc Development Administration and Planning MSc Transport & City Planning MSc Global Health DPU's Doctoral Programme
Professor of Urban Policy and International Development
"The DPU is a warm, stimulating intellectual environment where concern for others is a key feature. Through its location in the heart of London, a vibrant international development milieu and extensive networks with activists, advocates and researchers at the cutting-edge of social change around the world, students and staff are constantly engaged in the most up-to-date debates to promote just, sustainable progressive change."
Dr Colin MarxDevelopment Planning MPhil/PhD
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.
Please note that Development Planning MPhil/PhD students must commence their studies in September and full-time, because the first year of the programme includes timetabled doctoral seminars.
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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