Urban Spatial Science MSc

London, Bloomsbury

The Urban Spatial Science MSc programme equips students with a multi-disciplinary and critical perspective on approaches to understanding, monitoring and improving global urban resilience and sustainability through the use of data.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 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 a lower second-class Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 1

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

The programme is composed of three pathway options: (1) Smart Cities and Urban Policy, (2) Modelling and Simulation, and (3) Data Visualisation. Core concepts applicable to all programme pathways provide a foundation in urban spatial science, with pathways supporting optional thematic specialisation. The MSc is deliberately cross-disciplinary, drawing on staff with backgrounds in geography, planning, computer science, physics, as well as the arts and humanities.

Taught content explores the theoretical, social and scientific foundations of the modern built environment through a geo-spatial, data-oriented lens. We also cultivate a practical appreciation of the technical and methodological ‘state-of-the-art’ associated with urban analytics and data-driven decision making, including: mathematical, statistical and simulation modelling, computer programming, spatial analysis and visualisation. Importantly, these practical skills are underpinned by broad theoretical perspectives on demographics, economics, form and function, network interactions and complexity, governance and policy, planning and, crucially, urban science.

Through learning what is possible with code, about the benefits of data-informed urban analytics, and (as importantly) about the limitations technology-led solutionism, our graduates are distinguished as being simultaneously technically-capable but critically reflective, able to look past the hype that accompanies the buzz around smart cities, urban data science, and urban science.

The Urban Spatial Science MSc replaces the previous CASA MSc programmes, Smart Cities and Urban Analytics and Spatial Data Science and Visualisation.

Who this course is for

We are looking for students interested in cities, environment, spatial science and computational methods. There is no required academic background, but those students with architecture, planning or geography degrees would be suited to the programme. We welcome applicants from any stage of their career.

What this course will give you

The UCL Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) is one of the leading research centres in the science of cities, generating new knowledge and insights for use in city planning, policy and design, and drawing on the latest geospatial methods and ideas in computer-based visualisation and modelling.

The impact of The Bartlett's research on the wider world has been recognised in the Research Excellence Framework 2021:

  • The Bartlett is where the UK’s most ‘World Leading’ and ‘Internationally Excellent’ built environment research is undertaken. 
  • 91% of our research has been deemed ‘World Leading’ and ‘Internationally Excellent’.
  • The Bartlett is number one for Research Power in the built environment.  It is the UK’s largest faculty of the built environment and REF 2021 has confirmed both our unique breadth, and excellence across this portfolio.

The foundation of your career

All students are supported with their career and professional planning in two complimentary strands throughout the academic year, one provided externally by the UCL careers consultant and one internally by the careers and alumni officer.


This programme provides students with the skills and knowledge base to embark on a professional or academic path through the highly interdisciplinary field of urban spatial science and the wider urban planning and policy fields (see the summary programme description and learning outcomes for specific skills). Since its original inception in 2013, graduates have gone on to pursue a wide variety of careers in local government, urban planning, software development and academic research. This is indicative of the breadth of knowledge and opportunities afforded by our programme.


A regular series of seminars given by guest lecturers provides students with an opportunity to learn form, and network with, academics and professionals from UCL and other prestigious organisations.

Additionally, students gain access to our extensive alumni network of professionals via our careers and alumni events.


This programme has been accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in geographical knowledge and skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of the world beyond higher education. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

Teaching and learning

The modules on the programme are delivered through a combination of diverse teaching and learning activities in traditional and ‘flipped’ formats. Lectures feature widely, as do computer-based practical classes, tutorials alongside both student and teacher led discussion groups. Self-study is expected throughout the programme. In addition to formal teaching, students can learn directly from experts in the built environment and spatial analysis through the weekly term time CASA seminar series.

Assessment is undertaken via a variety of means, including practical projects, group presentations, written technical coursework reports, essays, workbooks, and a final research dissertation.

Typically students will spend 35 hours per week studying that includes attending lectures, seminars, practical sessions and self study. Each module will provide guidance on the expected division of time.


The degree consists of compulsory modules in term 1 and pathways or recommended modules in terms 2 and 3, alongside a final dissertation in term 3.

Urban Spatial Science MSc
Urban Spatial Science Compulsory modules

  • CASA0005 Geographic Information Systems and Science – term 1
  • CASA0007 Quantitative Methods – term 1
  • CASA0001 Urban Systems Theory – term 1
  • CASA0010 Urban Spatial Science Dissertation – term 3

Smart Cities and Urban Policy Pathway Pathway

  • CASA0008 Smart Cities: Context, Policy and Government – term 2
  • CASA0002 Urban Simulation – term 2
  • CASA0023 Remotely Sensing Cities and Environments – term 2

Data Visualisation Pathway Pathway

  • CASA0006 Data Science for Spatial Systems – term 2
  • CASA0003 Digital Visualisation: Group Mini Project – term 2

Urban Modelling and Simulation Pathway Pathway

  • CASA0006 Data Science for Spatial Systems – term 2
  • CASA0011 Agent Based Modelling for Spatial Systems – term 2
  • CASA0002 Urban Simulation – term 2

All pathways have 30 credits of additional optional modules. At least one of these should be taken from within the CASA module catalogue - both could be, but students will also have the option to take one elective outside their programme of study, departments at UCL with suitable relevant elective modules are listed below. In addition to the modules listed above (on other pathways) CASA also offers:

  • CASA0013 Foundations of Spatial Data Science (formerly Introduction to Programming for Spatial Analysts) – term 1
  • CASA0024 PropTech: Introduction
  • CASA0025 Building Spatial Applications with Big Data

Elective modules Departments at UCL with suitable relevant elective modules include: Geography, Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy, Civil Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, Information Studies, Computer Science, Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources, Bartlett School of Architecture and the Bartlett School of Planning.

Part-time study is over two years, with the following structure:

Year One

  • CASA0005 Geographical Information Systems & Science
  • CASA Optional Module
  • CASA Pathway module
  • CASA or UCL Elective Module

Year Two

  • CASA0007 Quantitative Methods
  • CASA0001 Urban Systems Theory
  • CASA Pathway module
  • CASA or UCL Elective Module
  • CASA0010 Urban Spatial Science Dissertation

NB: there is a study pattern to be aware of as a part-time student, i.e. understanding which modules need to be completed before others. This study pattern is outlined in the programme structure for Modular/Flexible study.

Modular/flexible students can take up to five years to complete the programme. The student registers at the start of every academic year, and chooses which modules to study in that academic year. The action of making a module choice generates an invoice from the Fees Office.

It is possible for a modular/flexible student to enrol onto the programme at the start of the academic year but decide not to take any modules in that year and defer study to another year. They will pay no fees for that year, but will remain an enrolled, registered student of UCL.

Study Pattern: Several Optional modules require particular core modules to be taken first – see study order below:

The following modules require CASA0013 to have been taken or the student to have equivalent programming experience: CASA0002, CASA0003, CASA0011 and CASA0025.

  • CASA0006 requires CASA0007 to be taken first.
  • CASA0023 requires CASA0005 to be taken first.
  • CASA0008 requires CASA0001 to be taken first.

NB: CASA0010 Dissertation is intended to be a final activity of the programme and should be left to the final 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 MSc in Urban Spatial Science.


As part of the dissertation module students may have opportunities to collaboratively work with external organisations on dissertation projects. This usually involves meeting in the partner’s office (the academic supervisor is typically present as well), but on occasion students may be allocated a workspace. However, this is not a requirement of any dissertation project or the module and is on a case-by-case basis.


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: Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

Whether your ambition is to design better buildings, plan better cities, build sustainable communities or help meet the challenge of climate change, The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment could be a big step towards it. Join this event to learn more about the two MSc courses offered within the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis: Urban Spatial Science MSc/MRes and Connected Environments MSc.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £15,100 £7,550
Tuition fees (2024/25) £37,500 £18,750

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

Additional costs

A standard specification laptop is strongly advised.

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

Several external funding opportunities are available to applicants of this programme, including: ESRI Geospatial Scholarship Fund and the Chevening Scholarships. X22 scholarships worth £10,000 each are available for UK students on the Urban Spatial Science MSc and Connected Environments MSc. The CASA Urban Futures scholarships are part of the Office for Students’ (OfS) nationwide drive to expand access to the data science and AI industries.

Please note in your application if you have applied for any scholarship.

In our faculty, The Bartlett Promise Scholarship aims to enable students from backgrounds underrepresented in the built environment to pursue master's studies. Please see the UK Master's scholarship and Sub-Saharan Africa Master's scholarship pages for more information on eligibility criteria, selection process and FAQs.

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

Bartlett Promise Sub-Saharan Africa Masters Scholarship

Deadline: 3 April 2024
Value: Fees, stipend and other allowances (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Bartlett Promise UK Master's Scholarship

Deadline: 31 May 2024
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,364 maintenance/yr (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)

Deadline: 14 December 2023
Value: Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

UCL East London Scholarship

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,700 stipend ()
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

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.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Urban Spatial Science at graduate level
  • why you want to study Urban Spatial Science 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.

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

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.