Development Administration and Planning MSc

London, Bloomsbury

This MSc equips students with the analytical, methodological and practical expertise needed to positively contribute to development in countries where they are actively involved. Students acquire the tools necessary to respond to a diverse range of problems including productive capacity, intersectoral integration, economic and social diversification, and self-sufficiency.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 28 Jun 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

The normal minimum qualifications are an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, or a lower second-class UK Bachelor's degree, or an equivalent overseas qualification, in a subject appropriate to the programme, plus relevant work experience.

In rare cases, applicants with degrees below this standard will be considered if they have significant relevant professional experience.

In all cases, successful applicants are expected to provide good references and a strong personal statement, which adequately demonstrate the applicant’s interest in the topics addressed by this programme.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

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.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

Students develop the ability to analyse the development process and to formulate appropriate policies for meeting development goals. The overseas practice engagement, which involves work with partners in a country in the Global South, provides the opportunity to study the challenges and possibilities encountered in development, and the cultural, administrative and institutional context in which decisions are made.

Who this course is for

The programme will appeal to those interested in the development of a more socially just and economically equitable world. We encourage professionals as well as recent graduates with a strong academic record to apply. Strongly interdisciplinary, this programme attracts students from various social science disciplines, lawyers, public administrators, economists and politicians, amongst others. Having relevant professional expereince is desirable.

What this course will give you

The Development Planning Unit (DPU) at UCL is an international centre concerned with promoting sustainable forms of development, understanding rapid urbanisation and encouraging innovation in the policy, planning and management of cities and regions, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its programmes are supported by international agencies and by national and provincial governments.

DPU 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.

This MSc examines and analyses the theory and practice of development administration at international, national and regional levels to provide participants with an understanding of the processes generating social change and with the skills and abilities to respond.

The foundation of your career

The central objective of this programme is to equip participants with the analytical, methodological and practical expertise necessary to make a positive contribution to the development effort in countries with which they are engaged.  


Graduates are engaged in a range of professional activities including local, regional and national government, consultancy firms, national and international NGOs, United Nations programmes and international aid agencies. A small proportion of graduates pursue advanced research degrees while several work as academics in leading universities or as independent consultants.


DPU offers career events regularly where students can gain insights from alumni. Please visit the DPU career page for more details. The DPU programme also sometimes invites previous students to share their experience of the programme and how the programme shaped their career trajectories. Additionally, various DPU events are open to staff and students which provides an important platform for students to network.

Teaching and learning

The MSc employs a range of teaching methods, including lectures, seminars, group work and discussion, employing both face-to-face and online media to give access to a wide range of learning inputs and activities.

Assessment of student performance in modules generally focuses on two types of activities and outputs: coursework and written examinations. The weighting that is given to each module component in the final module mark will be found in the DPU Master's Degree Programme Guide to Modules.

The MSc programme represents approximately 1,800 hours of student learning time. This involves a number of activities such as lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, practice engagements, project work, private reading, writing and revising for examinations. Full-time students should commit to an average of at least 35 hours of study a week throughout the programme of study. All other commitments should be secondary to this time.

The programme is organised as a number of modules. A module comprises several of the above elements. Each module involves a number of hours of learning time and is measured in credits. For example, a 15-credit module involves around 150 hours of student learning time, while a 30-credit module generally requires twice that level.


The programme is structured so that 75% of the taught components (90 credits) are devoted to the core subjects of development administration and planning and 25% (30 credits) to an option or options from a range of modules on offer. The compulsory modules provide the theoretical and methodological components of the programme while the optional module(s) allow you to examine different problems and approaches in accordance to your own particular interests.

In order to qualify for the MSc degree in Development Administration and Planning (DAP), you must also undertake an independent research project, culminating in the production of a 10,000-word dissertation. The dissertation research is likely to be desk-based, presenting an argument in favour of a particular position or hypothesis, and supported by the application of concepts of theory, method and practice, as well as by the lessons of experience. You have the option of focusing on a case study, or on a more generalised argument, though in either case your argument will be supported by a coherent combination of conceptual logic and empirical evidence. You will be assigned an individual supervisor, whose role is to provide guidance through prompt and constructive criticism and advice on the topic of the dissertation, as well as to agree on an appropriate plan of work.

All taught modules on the programme are delivered in terms 1 and 2, except for the practice module, which is delivered in terms 2 and 3. The dissertation is undertaken during terms 2 and 3 and over summer, with a final submission at the end of the summer (September).

Undertaking the course part-time requires the student to take 24-months to complete the three core modules (90 credits) that are compulsory for all students;
A choice of one or two optional modules (making up a total of 30 credits); and
A dissertation report (60 credits), where students can explore their own research interests.

Typically, in the first year, students will take 2 core modules to then complete the 1 core module, the optional module(s) and the dissertation in the second year.

The modular/flexible modality allows students to take a maximum of five years to complete the four key taught components (3 core subjects, the optional module(s)) and the dissertation, with the student generally attending lectures and seminars on-site at UCL. Study is undertaken on a module-by-module basis, with the student accumulating credit by selecting which module(s) to complete in any given year.

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 are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Development Administration and Planning.


The programme includes an overseas practice engagement, employing online and face-to-face approaches to facilitate fieldwork with partners in a country in the Global South. In recent years, DPU overseas practice engagements have involved collaborating with partners in Uganda, Ethiopia, India, Turkey, Thailand, Jordan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Colombia and Brazil. Scheduled in Term 3, (typically April/May), the overseas practice engagements are run as one of the components in the MSc Practice Modules.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Development Planning Unit Taster Lecture

Join us for a virtual open day where you can experience what it's like to be a student at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) with a taster lecture from Professor Michael Walls, Director of the DPU and Professor of Development Politics and Economy.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Development Planning Unit

Whether your ambition is to design better buildings, plan better cities, build sustainable communities or help meet the challenge of climate change, The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment could be a big step towards it. This session focuses on several master's courses offered by the Development Planning Unit -Environment and Sustainable Development MSc, Urban Development Planning MSc and Urban Economic Development MSc. Note there is a second session focusing on the other DPU courses.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £19,300 £9,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

All costs, including partner and facilitation expenses and travel-related fieldwork, where travel is possible, will be covered from within programme fees. Personal expenses (like food and local transport) 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.

Funding your studies

Applicants may be eligible for the Otto Koenigsberger Scholarship.

In our faculty, The Bartlett Promise Scholarship aims to enable students from backgrounds underrepresented in the built environment to pursue master's studies. Please see the UK Master's scholarship and Sub-Saharan Africa Master's scholarship pages for more information on eligibility criteria, selection process and FAQs.

UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies.

Any additional funding available from the Bartlett Development Planning Unit and the Built Environment Faculty Office are advertised on the respective websites.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Bartlett Promise Sub-Saharan Africa Masters Scholarship

Deadline: 3 April 2024
Value: Fees, stipend and other allowances (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Bartlett Promise UK Master's Scholarship

Deadline: 31 May 2024
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,364 maintenance/yr (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Brown Family Bursary

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: £15,000 (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)

Deadline: 14 December 2023
Value: Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

DPU70 Scholarship

Deadline: 3 April 2024
Value: Full fees plus living allowance and travel to and from home country (including visa fees, English la (1yr)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

GREAT Scholarship

Deadline: 14 May 2024
Value: £10,000 towards tuition fees (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

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.

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 Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Development Administration and Planning at UCL at graduate level
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • what do you think you will bring to the 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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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