UCL Graduate degrees


Urban Railways MSc

This MSc develops the transferable skills (e.g. big data management and system integration skills) and visionary-thinking capabilities required for 21st century urban railways. Many modules and the dissertation are based on real-world problems, and include interaction with London-based practitioners. The programme improves employability in the rail industry, and provides essential skills to those envisaging careers in general transport areas.

Key information

Please note: We are sorry but this programme is not accepting applications for 2020/21 entry.

Please see the full list of Graduate Taught programmes for information on other programmes available.

Programme starts

September 2020

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years
Flexible: up to 5 years

The attendance requirements of part-time students depend on their module choice, but they usually attend one or two day(s) a week.

Application dates

This programme is not accepting applications for 2020 entry.

Tuition fees (2020/21)

£13,640 (FT)
£6,810 (PT)
£28,530 (FT)
£14,320 (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. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.

Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma and a PG Certificate with fees set accordingly.
Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

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

Through a mixture of compulsory and optional modules, and standard, analytics- or management-focused pathways, students will learn about big data management, railway system integration, urban railway planning and analysis, and business management. The project-based module enables students to put their railway related expertise into practice, and the dissertation deals with real-world problems, often with industry support.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), four optional/elective modules (15 credits each), and a dissertation/report (60 credits). Students choose 30 or 45 credits of optional modules, and either 15 or 30 credits of elective modules.

A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) consisting of four core modules (60 credits) and four optional/elective modules (15 credits each) is also offered.

A Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) consisting of four core modules is also offered.

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Urban Railways. Upon successful completion of 120 credits, you will be awarded a PG Dip in Urban Railways. Upon successful completion of 60 credits, you will be awarded a PG Cert in Urban Railways.

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

  • Railway Policy, Management and Engineering
  • Engineering Study of Rail Systems and Infrastructure
  • Urban Railway System Integration
  • Urban Railways in Global Contexts

Each compulsory module is worth 15 credits. Please visit the Urban Railways MSc programme page for further module details.

Optional modules (indicative list):

Students choose either 30 or 45 credits of optional modules.

  • Quantitative Methods and Data Systems (15 credits)
  • Urban Railway Planning and Analysis (15 credits)
  • Urban Railway Business Management (15 credits)
  • Transport Planning Analysis (15 credits)

Please visit the Urban Railways MSc programme page for further optional module details, plus elective module details.


All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 - 15,000 words (60 credits).


Students can also join our Urban Railway Camp, which includes site visits and dissertation training sessions on a residential course.


As your dissertation project will focus on real-world problems, some students could be required to work in the offices of our industry partners for a certain period of time. This depends on the dissertation project and the needs of industry partners. 

Teaching and learning

This programme is delivered through taught modules, a week-long intensive module (Urban Railways in Global Contexts), and one-to-one/group tutorials, and includes significant industry input. Dissertation training sessions will help students develop academic writing skills. Assessment ranges from group project presentations, coursework and examinations to essays and a compulsory dissertation.

Each module has a different mix of contact hours, tutorials/activities and independent studies. In general, each module includes 20 hours of lectures, in addition to tutorials and independent study.

Additional costs

The Urban Railway Camp as well as other fieldwork opportunities (e.g. visits to train depots and signal control centres) are optional to students. The cost may vary depending on the number of attendees and the venue. Examples of additional costs are listed as follows:

  • Urban Railway Camp - around £200 (inc. transport and accommodation)
  •  London-based fieldwork - around £20 (inc. transport)
  • Non-London-based fieldwork - around £80 (inc. transport).

Students will be informed of the budget of each activity before they decide whether to attend or not.

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. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Brown Family Bursary

This scheme is now closed for 2020/21
£15,000 (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

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 this programme will be able to work in the urban railway sector in the UK, Europe and beyond. Roles may include railway operators, infrastructure managers, government regulators, software developers, and consultants. Some graduates may pursue careers in academia but focus on railways.


Upon completion, students will:

  • be equipped with transferable skills, including skills for big data management and analytics, and system integration (within the rail industry and with businesses outside), which are essential across the railway industry;
  • possess visionary-thinking capabilities. They will envisage urban railways as, for example, part of urban mobility services or a tool for the city’s prosperity; 
  • be trained as a global leader. Through intensive project-based work on real-world problems, students will be able to produce business/operation plans and design solutions, and execute them in multicultural environments;
  • demonstrate essential knowledge for urban railways.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Developed with our industry collaborators, our Urban Railways MSc is not a traditional knowledge/teaching-based programme but focuses on new transferable skills and the visionary-thinking capabilities required for urban railways. The programme also includes group work and scenario-based exercises.

With heavy involvement from UCL Railway Research Group - a world-leading railway research group within the UCL Centre for Transport Studies - the programme offers a wide range of opportunities for students to interact with London-based railway practitioners.

Students also benefit from UCL’s wide and in-depth portfolio of Master's programmes; subject to timetabling and the programme director's approval, they can take modules from other UCL Master's programmes in order to strengthen their speciality in their chosen subjects. 

Department: Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering

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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?

The programme is open to anyone with an interest in railways. Some students will have a Bachelor's degree in an engineering or science discipline; others may have social science backgrounds. There is no subject requirement as long as you are motivated and have career ambition.

Application deadlines

This programme is not accepting applications for 2020 entry.

While the programme includes quantitative modules, there is a pathway for those who have not studied quantitative subjects as part of their Bachelor's degree. 

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 Railways at graduate level
  • why you want to study Urban Railways at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this 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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Page last modified on 13 August 2020