UCL Graduate degrees


Urban Innovation and Policy MPA

This Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) is designed for professionals in the public, private or third sector who would like to lead change in urban development and city leadership. Students undertake a major live project with a real client and have the opportunity to engage with leading urban scholars and practitioners across UCL.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Part-time students will typically be required to attend on two half days per week in term time (4-6hrs per week). The timings of the sessions will be dependant on the MPA route followed by the student.

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31 May 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£21,600 (FT)
£10,800 (PT)
£28,500 (FT)
£14,250 (PT)

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.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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.

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: Good

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

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.

International students

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

Graduates are equipped with key skills for a role in urban policy, including strategic engagement, city leadership and experimentation. Students study conceptual frameworks for innovation and urban planning, and master policy tools and analytical methods to implement, evaluate, and revise urban policies. 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.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of eight 15 credit modules (five of which are common across the MPA suite of programmes, two are route specific and one is an elective choice from any other STEaPP module).

Students may choose either an MPA Individual Project or the MPA Group Project as their final 60 credit module.

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MPA in Urban Innovation and Policy.

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.

Compulsory modules

Students undertake five core modules together with students from sister MPA programmes, and two route/specialist modules which focus on their MPA degree topic.

Students then have one further elective choice in which they may select one further module from any STEaPP are providing in that year. Students also have a choice for their final project, in which they may take either an MPA Individual Project or the MPA Group Project.

  • Public Administration
  • Evidence for Decision Making
  • Foundations in Urban Innovation and Policy (Route Specific)
  • Policy Making
  • Knowledge and Governance
  • Analytical Methods for Policy
  • Urban Innovation and Policy (Route Specific)
  • MPA Individual Project or MPA Group Project

Optional modules

Students must select one STEaPP module as an additional module, in 2021-22 these will likely be as follows;

  • Gender and Technology
  • Risk Assessment and Governance
  • Clean Energy and Development
  • Science Funding and Governance
  • Development, Technology and Innovation Policy
  • Emerging Dilemmas in Digital Technology Policy
  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Public Policy

Final report

MPA students may chose between an MPA Individual Project or MPA Group Project for their final piece of work. In the Group Project, students work with an external client on a relevant policy challenge. With the support of STEaPP academic staff, the multidisciplinary student groups work together to produce an analysis that meets their clients' needs. For the Individual Project, students may develop a dissertation, policy analysis or other research project to work on (indivdually or with an existing employer/organisation).

Teaching and learning

The programme combines innovative classroom teaching methods with unique scenario-based learning, enabling students to dynamically engage with real-world policy challenges. Scenarios, simulations and case studies are designed to help students consolidate knowledge and develop essential practical skills and their understanding of principles. During the programme, students acquire a comprehensive range of relevant skills.

Additional costs

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


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 & Wellbeing team.


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


The degree is suitable for professionals or graduates currently working in (or who want to work in) urban policy and planning, as well as future city leaders from a wide range of organisations including non-governmental organisations, the private sector, consultancies and the third sector. 

The MPA is also suitable for academics, engineers, activists, scientists and technologists who would like to shape the policies for inclusive and sustainable urban development. 

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; city network organisations (such as C40 Cities); public water and energy utilities.


Throughout the MPA programme, students will:

  • gain a greater awareness of current issues and developments in urban innovation, science, technology and engineering;
  • develop critical analysis skills, including how to incorporate issues of social justice into urban policy making;
  • develop an understanding of the knowledge systems, skills and expertise underpinning successful policy making processes;
  • learn how to communicate with scientists and engineers, policy makers and industry experts;
  • develop the skills to mobilise urban and innovation policy, and science and engineering knowledge and expertise, to address fundamental global challenges.

Why study this degree at UCL?

With 3 million people moving to cities every week, more than half of the world's population are city dwellers, making cities the key pathway to sustainable change. Getting cities right today will lay the foundation for sustainable prosperity globally and shape the lives of future generations. This practical programme offers experiential learning for the skills needed in 21st century urban innovation policy making. 

Students undertake a week-long scenario activity on the policy making process where they engage with external experts and UCL academics. During the programme, students undertake a nine-month major project on urban policy for a real-world client, or an individual project. Previous policy problems include: managing migration and super-diversity in cities with the World Cities Culture Forum; creating policy options for transitions to sustainable urban mobility in Freetown and Maputo (in partnership with local stakeholders and the UN); Developing a case for strategic planning of urban night time lighting in collaboration with ARUP.

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

Department: Science, Technology, Engineering & Public Policy

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 is a professional programme with practical learning activities that will appeal to students who want to master the policy processes that underpin technical, innovative change in cities. Although no technical background is required, students should be interested in and willing to engage with ideas from science and engineering.

Application deadlines

All applicants
31 May 2021

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

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

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Page last modified on 28 August 2021