The Urban Development Planning MSc explores planning theories and international practices in urban development policy, planning and management that address contemporary spatial, socio-economic and political transformations in cities of the Global South.
Covid-19 programme updates
Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.
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 (2020/21)
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. 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 second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. A minimum of six months work experience is also recommended.
Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic requirements 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 and an ability to engage academically with the subject matter.
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
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 MSc aims to equip participants to work effectively as development planners and practitioners in urban contexts through imparting a deeper understanding of the processes that generate urban change. The programme aims to enhance participants' diagnostic and strategic capacities to respond to such change within the framework of socially just urban governance.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of three compulsory modules (90 credits), either one or two optional modules (30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Urban Development Planning.
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 City and its Relations: Context, Institutions and Actors in Urban Development Planning (30 credits)
- Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management: Strategic Action in Theory and Practice (30 credits)
- Practice in Urban Development Planning (30 credits)
- Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
- An Introduction to Public Economics and Public Policy
- 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
- Food and the City
- Gender in Policy and Planning
- Housing as Urbanism: Housing Policy and the Search for Scale
- Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
- Industrialisation and Infrastructure
- Knowledge Systems and Sustainable Food Production
- Managing the City Economy
- Neo-Structuralism and the Developmental State
- NGOs and Social Transformation
- Participatory Processes: Building for Development
- Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
- Social Diversity, Inequality and Poverty
- Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
- Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
- Transport Equity and Urban Mobility
Or any other open MSc module on offer at UCL, with Programme Leader approval.
Please note: optional modules are subject to availability.
All 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 is Development and Planning Dissertation (60 credits).
In the third term (May) students travel abroad to a city in the Global South to conduct a two-week field trip in groups. The purpose of the trip is to give hands-on experience of processes of urban change, community-led initiatives and policy challenges in the urban context of the Global South.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, group work, workshops and field trips. Field trips so far have taken place in Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Tanzania. Student performance is assessed through essays, coursework, team project reports, written examinations, the overseas field trip and a 10,000-word dissertation.
The cost of 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.
Applicants may be eligible for the Otto Koenigsberger Scholarship (OKS).
Overseas students are also encouraged to contact a local office of the British Council for information on possible scholarships.
The following other organisations may be able to offer financial support:
- United Nations
- Ford Foundation
- European Development Fund
- Architects Registration Board (ARB)
- Chevening Scholarships
- Aga Khan Foundation for scholarships for applicants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya and Tanzania.
EU funding is also possible for studentships through the European Union.
Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- This scheme is now closed for 2020/21
- £15,000 (1 year)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
- 1 July 2020
- £10,000 (1 year)
- 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.
This MSc is widely recognised by international organisations and agencies (such as UN agencies and the World Bank) and bilateral aid organisations from different countries. 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. 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.
The programme aims to help students:
- 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 opportunites for action
- formulate systematic and well-supported strategic action planning proposals, aimed at responding to complex urban development situations, 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
Why study this degree at UCL?
This programme argues that planning is key to dealing with urban problems and opportunities presented by rapid urbanisation in the Global South, but that its potential cannot be harnessed without a critical understanding of the processes that generate urban change in specific contexts.
The programme seeks to equip students with the capacity to develop critical diagnoses of urban issues, as a basis for developing propositional responses within the framework of socially, spatially and environmentally just urban governance.
The programme promotes a deeper understanding of community-led and partnership-based urban development planning. Students also benefit from the Development Planning Unit's longstanding and geographically expansive alumni and partner network.
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.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
Applicants from a range of backgrounds, including those working in or aspiring to work in international aid agencies, central government and local authorities, non-governmental organisations, academia and the private sector will benefit from this programme. Students come from a variety of disciplines, including planning, architecture, geography, economics, political science and sociology.
- Full-time applicants
- 11 August 2020
- Flexible/Modular applicants
- 11 August 2020
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 Urban Development Planning at graduate level
- why you want to study Urban Development Planning 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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