This MSc offers a critical approach to 'people-centred' development, addressing the challenges for promoting well-being and equitable citizenship in the context of social diversity and globalisation, particularly in urban contexts. Participants engage in a critical analysis of the theory and practice of social development to develop their capacities as reflexive social development practitioners.
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 a good second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard; and a demonstrable interest in the subject matter of the programme.
Candidates who do not meet the above requirements may be considered if they are able to demonstrate relevant work experience and an ability to engage academically with the subject matter of the degree. Applicants who do not hold a recognised undergraduate 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
This programme provides a solid grounding in social analysis skills and perspectives, rooted in social theory around identity, inequality, and social change processes. Students learn how development interventions can best support the citizenship claims of diverse groups living in the Global South, and consider the role of the social development practitioner in this endeavour.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of three compulsory modules (90 credits), either one or two optional modules (totalling 30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Social Development Practice.
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.
- Social Policy and Citizenship (30 credits)
- Social Diversity, Inequality, and Poverty (30 credits)
- Social Development in Practice (30 credits)
One or two optional modules, totalling 30 credits, from the below:
- NGOs and Social Transformation
- Communication, Technologies and Social Power
- Gender in Policy and Planning
- Participatory Processes: Building for Development
- Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities
- Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
- Critical Urbanism Studio I and II
- Housing as Urbanism: Housing Policy and the Search for Scale
- Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
- Neo-Structuralism and the Developmental State
- Political Economy of Development: Land, Food and Agriculture
- Political Economy of Development: Industrialisation and Infrastructure
- Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
- Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
- Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
- Transport Equity and Urban Mobility
- Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: Knowledge Systems in the Global South
- The City and Its Relations: Context, Institutions and Actors in Urban Development Planning
- Managing the City Economy
- Health, Social Justice and the City
Or any other open MSc module on offer at UCL, with Programme Leader approval.
Please note:optional modules are subject to availability.
All students undertake an independent research project related to the main themes of the programme, culminating in a dissertation report of 10,000 words (60 credits). This module is Development and Planning Dissertation. Topics may be chosen to enhance career development or for their inherent interest.
The programme incorporates an overseas practice engagement in collaboration with our networks based in the Global South.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical classroom exercises, and an overseas practice engagement. Student performance is assessed through coursework, examinations, and a dissertation report as well as an assessment of practical work, including reports with a focus on the overseas practice engagement and our work with local partners.
The cost of group fieldwork flights, visas, necessary vaccinations, accommodation, and fieldwork-related travel and facilitations costs, are incorporated within the programme fees. Meals and other expenditure must be covered by the student.
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.
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.
Graduates of the programme have moved into a range of professions, including work in: international NGOs, in both specialised social NGOs (for example NGOs concerned with gender equality, youth, or disability) and social roles in mainstream development NGOs; international organisations; bilateral development agencies as social development specialists; national and local government in positions related to social policy, and; private sector companies engaged in social appraisal, social research and consultancy.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The programme introduces students to critical, analytical and practical skills that will be of use in their future careers – whether as academics, social development practitioners or advocates – based on the need to place the 'social' at the centre of development. Students have an opportunity to critically examine relevant bodies of knowledge, current debates and field experience in primarily urban contexts, and to consider the challenges of making development policy, planning and practice more socially responsive.
Students on this MSc benefit from the strong practical component, which includes an overseas practice engagement with a city in the Global South. This experience provides the opportunity to develop practical skills, use tools for participatory action research, and reflect on the roles and responsibilities of social development practitioners.
The practice-based components of the programme also provide students with the opportunity to network with organisations and professionals working in the social development sector. In a complementary series of careers sessions, students can network with Development Planning Unit alumni and partners who are working in relevant fields.
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?
This MSc attracts participants from a wide variety of disciplines including sociology, economics, anthropology, international studies, history, communication studies, geography and psychology. It provides the critical, analytical and practical skills necessary for their future careers as academics or social development practitioners.
- Full-time applicants
- 31 May 2021
- Flexible/Modular applicants
- 31 May 2021
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to strong competition for places. It may be necessary to close applications to new applicants if we exceed capacity before the advertised closing date. 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 about:
- your understanding of what social development constitutes
- any experience you have of working in social development or related sectors
- why you want to study Social Development Practice at graduate level
- why you want to study Social Development Practice at UCL
- 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 demonstrate your interest in the distinctive features of this MSc programme and tell us about your expectations.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.