Environment and Sustainable Development MSc

London, Bloomsbury

The Environment and Sustainable Development MSc examines the critical relations between development planning and socio-environmental challenges in urban areas of the Global South. It challenges mainstream approaches to development, focusing on developing strategic pathways to address environmental injustices and enhance collective capacities to act towards more just and sustainable futures.

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 closed

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 Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard; and a demonstrated interest in the subject matter of the programme. A minimum of six months work experience is also recommended. Candidates who do not meet the above requirements may be considered if they are able to demonstrate substantial relevant senior-level professional experience and an ability to engage academically with the subject matter of the 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

Faced with the most severe environmental crisis in human history, with unprecedented degradation, displacements, disasters and the (re)production of inequalities, it becomes ever more pressing to acquire the capacities for effective action to restore, enhance and safeguard our planet.

This MSc aims to equip participants to work effectively as development planners/practitioners to address these challenges through gaining a deeper understanding of the processes within urban environmental change and developing strategic capacities to respond within a framework of systems theory, environmental justice and sustainability.

Who this course is for

This interdisciplinary programme attracts participants from a wide variety of fields including anthropologists, economists, geographers and natural scientists, as well as planners, architects and engineers. 

What this course will give you

This programme offers an in-depth theoretical and practical understanding of socio-environmental change, equipping graduates with the skills required to face complex global challenges in urban regions while being sensitive to local contexts and remaining flexible in fast changing realities.

For the last 70 years the Development Planning Unit at UCL has championed forms of development planning that promote socially just and sustainable development in the context of rapid urbanisation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The programme provides opportunities to interact with leading thinkers in development planning and students will also benefit from the DPU’s longstanding and geographically expansive alumni and international partner network.

The foundation of your career

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 Global South.

Graduates have also been employed by international NGOs and aid and development agencies. Some graduates return to their home countries and engage in the practice, teaching or research of urban development practice; other graduates have successfully sought employment in international development organisations away from their own countries. Programme alumni have also successfully embarked on MPhil/PhD programmes. 

Examples of organisations where graduates have been employed include: Public Sector: DEFRA and DfID (UK), Ministerio das Cidades (Brazil) and many other local government organisations International Agencies and NGOs: UNEP, UNDP, UN-Habitat, JICA, GIZ (former GTZ), InsightShare, Save the Children and WWF Think tanks, academic and research organisations: IIED, Stockholm Environment Institute, Resources for Development Center, WaterWise and the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport Private companies: HappoldConsulting, EcoSecurities, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Dialogue by Design, and BioRegionalQuintain.


As this MSc is widely recognised, many of our graduates go on to help shape future sustainable development agendas in local government, international agencies (such as UN agencies and the World Bank), bilateral aid organisations from different countries. and civil society organisations.

The programme equips students with interdisciplinary and transferable skills. It develops reflective and ethical professionals with enhanced capacities as critical thinkers, researchers, team players, leaders, effective project managers and impactful communicators.

Specific skills that help students include:

  • prepare balanced and critical analyses/arguments, attentive to the particularities of place, based on theoretical insights and empirical evidence
  • undertake well-supported diagnoses of the problems and opportunities in given urban development contexts, in ways that reframe strategic opportunities for socially and environmentally just action
  • formulate systematic and well-supported strategic proposals, aimed at responding to complex urban environmental change, including organisational and institutional development
  • build presentation, advocacy and negotiation skills
  • develop research skills including interviewing, conceptual framework formulation, and the ability to analyse a range of information sources
  • deliver group projects, and negotiate the dynamics of working in diverse teams
  • operate professionally in unfamiliar environments, including in Global South contexts 


The programme provides opportunities to interact with leading thinkers in development planning from diverse private and public organisations. They work closely with academic staff concerned with environmentally just and sustainable development and are involved in research, consultancy and development practice, influencing global debates on development such as UNFCCC negotiations, Sustainable Development Goals and UN Habitat III agenda.

DPU offers career events regularly where students can gain insights from alumni about their career trajectory. Please visit the DPU career page for more details. The programme organises a number of events, formal and informal, with academics, practitioners and alumni which provide ample opportunity for connecting with others. When joining, students become part of a network of long-term partnerships with fellow students, alumni, instructors and partners across the world.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through diverse teaching and learning activities to foster individual and collective learning which include: lectures, seminars, workshops, coursework and action research in collaboration with grounded partners. A practice engagement component allows learners to acquire first-hand experience examining the causes and impacts of environmental injustice and how these can be tackled under real circumstances through strategic interventions. Participants engage with an interdisciplinary body of knowledge and experiences that inform the practice of planning and can extend and consolidate their own ideas and experiences.

The programme comprises reading, essay writing, critical discussion and project work, facilitated through lectures, seminars, workshops, a practice engagement component and discussions with practitioners covering theoretical and practical tasks and case study analysis. Assessment is through coursework, in person written examinations, and the dissertation.

Approximately 30% of students’ time is spent in lectures, seminars and tutorials, 17% on coursework preparation and exams, and the remainder in independent study. Every 15-credit taught module equates to 150 hours of workload.


The programme is divided into four key taught components and one independent research project. The four taught components include three compulsory modules which focus on the core of sustainable development as a field, including: the political ecology of environmental change; urban environmental planning and management in development; and the practice module, which engages with practical approaches to advocating for and contributing to just and sustainable development practice in the urban global south. 

You also take one or two optional modules which allows you to tailor the programme of study to accommodate your own interest and direct your own learning experience.

You must also undertake an independent research project culminating in the production of a dissertation, with support from a dedicated dissertation tutor. This gives you the opportunity to focus on an area of the programme that most interests you. The research that supports the production of your dissertation should rely on secondary sources of data and/or primary sources of data that can be accessed without field survey work (e.g. internet or archival data sources). Conducting this independent research builds your skills in planning a research project, reviewing literature, and using the knowledge acquired during the taught component of the programme to review evidence, develop an argument and communicate and justify your findings.

All taught modules on the programme are delivered in terms 1 and 2 and the practice module is delivered in terms 1, 2 and 3. Work on the dissertation starts during terms 2 and 3. The summer term is entirely dedicated to the dissertation with a final submission at the end of the summer (September).

You will take a series of taught modules, culminating in the submission of a 10,000 word dissertation, over a period of two years.
The taught modules are delivered in Terms 1 and 2 in Year 1. 
In year 1 you will take:

  • DEVP0020: The Political Ecology of Environmental Change
  • DEVP0021: Urban Environmental Planning and Management in Development 

The taught modules are delivered in Terms 1, 2 and  3 in year 2.
In Year 2 you will take:

  • DEVP0022: Environment and Sustainable Development in Practice
  • DEV00017: Dissertation Report

Plus a choice of;

  • 1 x 30 credit optional module or 
  • 2 x 15 credit options module(s)

You will take a series of taught modules, culminating in the submission of a 10,000 word dissertation, over a period of 2-5 years.

You may structure the modules in any format you wish, noting that DEVP0022 (practice based module) and DEVP0017 (Dissertation) must be taken in your final years of study.

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 Environment and Sustainable Development.


The practice engagement component in Term 3 provides an opportunity to test theories and concepts discussed in the porgramme's core modules, and to gain practical experience in tackling environmental injustices in collaboration with key actors in the cities where we work.


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

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.

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 is a joint session focusing on: Building and Urban Design in Development MSc; Development Administration and Planning MSc; Health in Urban Development MSc; Social Development Practice MSc; Development Planning MPhil/PhD. Note there is a part 1 DPU session too.

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: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

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.

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

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

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)

Deadline: NOW CLOSED FOR 2024/25 ENTRY
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: NOW CLOSED FOR 2024/25 ENTRY
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 Environment and Sustainable Development at graduate level
  • why you want to study Environment and Sustainable Development at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • what do you think you will bring to the course
  • 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.

We give preference to candidates with a minimum of six months relevant work experience.

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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