This programme 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 strategic pathways to address socio-environmental injustices and enhance collective capacities to act. Many of our graduates go on to help shape future sustainable development agendas in local government, international agencies and civil society organisations.
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. 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 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.
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
This degree focuses on the complexity and variety of current socio-environmental problems in urban regions, their causes and impacts, and the possibilities and limitations of environmental planning and management. Students learn how to respond to processes that generate social and environmental change, and how to develop strategies to steer urban environmental planning towards sustainability and socio-environmental justice.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of three core modules (90 credits) and one or two optional modules (30 credits) plus a dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Environment and Sustainable 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.
- The Political Ecology of Environmental Change (30 credits)
- Urban Environmental Planning and Management in Development (30 credits)
- Environment and Sustainable Development in Practice (30 credits)
Students choose optional modules to the value of 30 credits. These may include:
- Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
- Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities
- NGOs and Social Transformation
- Food and the City
- Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: Knowledge Systems in the Global South
- Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
- Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
- Socially Sensitive Development in Practice
- Social Development and Poverty Reduction: From Theory to Practice
- Managing the City Economy
- Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
- The City and Its Relations
- Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management
Or any other open MSc module on offer at UCL, with Programme Leader approval.
Please note: optional modules are subject to availability.
Students submit a 10,000-word dissertation 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. The module is Development and Planning Dissertation (60 credits).
Teaching and learning
The programme comprises reading, essay writing, critical discussion and project work, facilitated through lectures, seminars, workshops, an overseas practice engagement and discussions with practitioners covering theoretical and practical tasks and case study analysis. Assessment is through coursework, examinations, and the dissertation.
If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc. on this programme, please get in touch with the Programme Manager, by e-mailing email@example.com.
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.
Most previous graduates of this programme are now engaged in professional activities, ranging from local and national government, consultancy firms and national and international NGOs, to United Nations programmes and international aid agencies all over the world.
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.
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.
Our students interact with diverse private and public organisations and join a network of long term partnerships with fellow students, alumni, instructors and partners across the world. They work closely with academic staff concerned with socio-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.
Why study this degree at UCL?
Faced with the most severe environmental crisis in human history, with unprecedented environmental degradation, rapid urbanisation and the production and reproduction of inequalities, it becomes ever more pressing to aquire the capacities for effective action to safeguard nature and current and future generations.
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 60 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 join a community of practice with an international network of researchers and practitioners.
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
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?
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.
- 31 May 2021
- 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 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.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.