Urban Innovation and Policy MPA

London, Bloomsbury

This Master's of Public Administration (MPA) is designed for professionals who want to lead change in urban policy and to understand the wide range of innovations that are reshaping cities as economic, environmental, social and physical systems. Students will have the opportunity to undertake a major project focused on a real-world policy challenge, in partnership with an external partner organisation. 

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 31 May 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

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Students are encouraged (but are not required) to have work experience prior to enrolling on this programme.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

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

Cities are now recognised as critical levers for social, economic and environmental change. They are home to more than half the world’s population and account for nearly seventy per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

Increasingly, cities are seeking new innovations and policy strategies to solve urban challenges and tackle pressing issues such as growth, climate change and social inequality. However, the practice of enabling change and deploying innovation is challenging. Urban policy professionals need specific skills and expertise on how change happens, and the processes by which innovations or experiments can be piloted, evaluated and scaled.

This MPA helps students to develop the skills and expertise required to work in the public, private or third sectors, helping to find solutions to major urban challenges. The programme covers a range of urban challenges, tackling key questions such as: 

  • What roles do the government, private firms and NGOs play in shaping social, economic, environmental or technological change in cities? 

  • How could emerging forms of technological or policy innovation help address pressing issues like urban inequality, air pollution or car-dependence? 

  • Are smart technologies changing our cities for the better, enabling more efficient monitoring and measurement of urban systems, or for the worse, ushering in a new era of urban surveillance?

  • What will it take to decarbonise our urban economies and infrastructures, and adapt to a changing climate? 

  • What is the role of the arts and culture in shaping change in cities? 

Who this course is for

This is a professional programme for students with aspirations to lead the transition to more prosperous, just and sustainable cities, whether working in the public, private or third sector.

The programme draws from a range of disciplines, including urban geography, sociology, urban political ecology, and science and technology studies. It takes an applied approach, grounding knowledge from these disciplines within the practical challenges of leading change.

The programme will appeal to students who want to better understand the policy processes that underpin technological change and innovation in cities. Although no technical background is required, students should be interested in and willing to engage with ideas from science and engineering.

What this course will give you

This programme offers experiential learning to develop the skills to engage with complex urban policy issues and work with various stakeholders to develop innovative solutions. 

Students have the opportunity to undertake a nine-month major project on a real-world policy challenge for an external client organisation or undertake their own individual project independently with an existing employer. Example policy areas include sustainable mobility, the urban night-time economy, climate resilience, and digital innovation in cities. 

Students will have the opportunity to network with UCL STEaPP's broad range of international partners, expert faculty and a diverse range of academics and professionals from across the department's MPA and doctoral programmes. 

The foundation of your career

MPA graduates can go on to work in a range of organisations, including national and local government; government offices of innovation and development; transportation and planning agencies; NGOs; corporate and institutional sustainability offices; public utilities. 


Graduates are equipped with key skills, including problem-structuring, policy analysis and experimentation. Students study conceptual frameworks for innovation and urban transitions, and master policy tools and analytical methods to implement, evaluate, and revise urban policies and innovations. They are taught how to bridge gaps within government and in the public and private sector, and how to gather evidence to support decision-making. 


MPA students are invited to a range of events hosted by the department and faculty, with external and industry speakers.

Teaching and learning

The programme combines practice-oriented classroom teaching methods with scenario-based learning, enabling you to engage with real-world policy challenges that matter to you personally. Taught sessions are comprised of lecture-style content, class discussion and group activities. These sessions are highly interactive and draw on experiential learning to develop students' competence and confidence to apply the module content within real-world contexts. These scenarios and simulations are designed to help you consolidate your knowledge, develop essential practical skills and test your understanding of principles — preparing you to be an influential policy actor.

The MPA is highly interdisciplinary and brings together students from a range of backgrounds to tackle complex policy challenges. The teaching approach provided by STEaPP is both experiential and applied, focusing on developing your skills and responsibility for building justice and equity in your chosen domain. The MPA programmes are professional degrees, that will allow you to build not only competencies and knowledge but networks that will be of tremendous value throughout your career.    

 You will be assessed primarily through a series of problem-oriented projects (including both presentational components and submitted materials), complemented by short written assignments, scenarios and simulations. Your final project will include a longer written report, often for or with a professional partner organisation. 

In terms one and two students have on average 12 -13 contact hours a week with staff. Modules have either two hours of lectures and one hour of tutorials or three hours of lectures. In addition, there will be independent study and group work. In term three the amount of contact time will be lower as students focus on their final projects, although there will be set times for MPA group project and MPA individual project supervision and support.


The programme consists of eight 15 credit modules (three of which are common across the MPA suite of programmes, two are route specific and three are elective choices from other STEaPP modules). Students may choose either an MPA group project or the MPA individual project as their final 60 credit module.

You will study four modules in term one and four in term two. Term three and Summer are designated for the MPA group project and the MPA individual project.

The part-time version of the MPA follows the same structure as the full-time but with credits of study in each 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 MPA in Urban Innovation and Policy.


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: STEaPP MPA

Do you want to lead change, and help to change the world for the better? Join us at our MPA Virtual Open Event to learn about our MPA programmes, which will provide you with the skills needed to work at the interface between science, technology, engineering and public policy.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £25,900 £12,950
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400 £17,200

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

There are no additional costs associated with the programme.

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

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

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 assessing your application, the MPA Admissions Panel are particularly looking to understand;

  • why you want to study Urban Innovation and Policy at graduate level
  • what particularly attracts you to the programme at UCL
  • how your academic and professional background and interests meet the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree and how the MPA fits with your career goals

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

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