An intensive 12 month programme that immerses students in the critical theory and practice of urban design. It is designed to recalibrate mainstream practices towards a new mode of inquiry and action, one that centres on the political relevance and social processes of design towards a transformative just and sustainable urbanism.
Modes and duration
Full-time students study for 37.5 hours per week during term time. Typically, lectures and seminars occur on two days per week. Part-time and Flexible mode students normally attend half this amount.
Tuition fees (2021/22)
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: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.
The normal minimum qualifications are a good second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
Consideration will also be given if the qualification is a degree of lower than second-class Honours standard, or an equivalent overseas qualification, in a subject appropriate to the programme, plus relevant work experience. Applicants who do not hold a first degree may, in exceptional cases, be admitted to the programme if they are able to demonstrate considerable senior-level professional experience in planning or a related field.
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
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
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:
About this degree
The programme will equip students:
- To develop a deeper understanding of the role of urban design as a transdisciplinary practice
- To leverage critical urban theory as strategic framework for research based design.
- To critically analyse, document and spatially visualise complex urban issues.
- To propose spatial strategies that are fundamentally rooted in spatial, social, racial and environmental justice.
- To think critically about the city and urban process to design its future and anticipating it’s building through citizen engagement.
- To engage with partners to experiment with the practice of urban design beyond the classroom through real-life platforms of engagement.
- To understand spatial practices in tandem with developmental processes beyond the Global South-North divide.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of three compulsory modules (90 credits), one optional module (30 credits) or two optional modules (15 credits) plus a dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Building and Urban Design in Development.
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.
- Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development (30 credits)
- Participatory Process: Building for Development (30 credits)
- Building and Urban Design in Practice (30 credits)
Students choose optional modules to the value of 30 credits. These include:
- Critical Urbanism Studio I. Learning from Informality: Case studies and alternatives
- Critical Urbanism Studio II: Investigative Design Strategies for Contested Spaces
- Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities
- Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
- Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
- Housing as Urbanism: Housing Policy and the Search for Scale
- Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
- The Political Ecology of Environmental Change
- Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
- Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
- Social Policy and Citizenship
- Gender in Policy and Planning
- The City and its Relations: Context, Institutions and Actors in Urban Development Planning
- Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management: Strategic Action in Theory and Practice
- Transport Equity and Urban Mobility
- Industrialisation and Infrastructure
- Food and the City
- Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: Knowledge Systems in the Global South
- NGOs and Social Transformation
- Contemporary Approaches to Development Management
Please note that all optional modules are subject to availabillty.
Students submit a 10,000-word report on a topic related to the main themes of the programme. The topic can be chosen to enhance career development or for its inherent interest. This module is Development and Planning Dissertation (60 credits).
During the third term, students carry out a longer practice engagement, with particular focus on a city of the Global South. Students collate their strategies in a final, end-of-year report that forms part of their final assessment.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of weekly lectures, seminar presentations, group exercises and workshops. The Building and Urban Design in Development (BUDD) MSc includes an overseas practice engagement with an urban reality of the Global South, developed in partnership with local organisations, networks of communities, slum dweller federations, universities and governments alike. Students are encouraged to explore different tools, concepts and ideas throughout the programme and test these during the practice engagement. Assessment is through coursework, design work, written examinations and the 10,000-word report.
All costs, including partner and facilitation expenses and travel-related where travel is possible will be covered from within programme fees. Personal expenses must, as normal, be covered by the student regardless of whether activities take place in person or remotely.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies.
Applicants may be eligible for the Otto Koenigsberger Scholarship.
Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- Deadline: 31 May 2021
- Tuition fees plus £15,364 maintenance/yr (Duration of programme)
- Based on financial need
- £11,000 (1 year)
- Based on academic merit
- Deadline: 1 July 2021
- Full fees (1 year)
- UK, Overseas
- Based on academic merit
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
The programme enables graduates to work in NGOs and local government – facilitating community organisations and households to improve their living conditions. Graduate destinations range from UK-based organisations in the public, private and community sectors, to governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, which operate in a development capacity in the South. Recent graduates have also been employed by international NGOs and aid and development agencies and architectural and design practices. Some graduates return to their home countries and engage in urban design and architecture practice, teaching, or research of urban development there; others have successfully sought employment away from their own countries.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The Bartlett is the UK's largest multidisciplinary faculty of the built environment, bringing together dozens of scientific and professional specialisms required to research, understand, design, construct and operate the buildings and urban environments of the future.
The Development Planning Unit is an international centre concerned with promoting sustainable forms of development, understanding rapid urbanisation and encouraging innovation in the policy, planning and management responses to the economic, social and environmental development of cities and regions, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its programmes are supported by international agencies as well as by national and provincial governments.
The Building and Urban Design in Development (BUDD) programme in particular reflects on the necessity of design practices to contribute to changing the mainstream paradigm of working with the urban poor, with communities and the city itself.
Department: Development Planning Unit
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.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
The programme encourages a multidisciplinary approach, attracting professionals who already have a background in the built environment field, principally architects, designers, planners, geographers and engineers. The programme is also suited to applicants from other professional backgrounds who are interested in the built environment and seeking to increase their understanding of urban environmental issues in developing countries and to develop practical design skills. The MSc attracts most of its students from overseas, but also from UK.
- Full-time applicants
- 31 May 2021
- Flexible/Modular applicants
- 31 May 2021
Applications received by 31 December 2020 will receive a response by 28 February, then in two-monthly intervals after that.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Building and Urban Design in Development at graduate level
- why you want to study Building and Urban Design in Development at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.
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