Urban Studies MSc

London, Bloomsbury

Cities are now a critical focus for research, policy-making and public debate. While, according to the United Nations, three-quarters of the global population will live in cities by 2050, the nature of this urbanisation is varied and particular. This MSc offers innovative, comparative and interdisciplinary modes of analysis and research that acknowledges and addresses the scale and complexity of contemporary urbanism.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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. International Preparation Courses

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

Students gain an advanced understanding of urban theory, develop a range of critical analytical lenses to explore urban challenges shaping the world, contemporary as well as historical. The programme focuses on an interface between theory and practice across a diverse set of topics, from critical urban debates to creative engagements with the urban. It also questions our normative categorisation of cities such as the global South, post-socialist cities and other regional rationalisations to rethink a global understanding of concerns from capitalist development to socio-ecological change.

Who this course is for

This interdisciplinary programme welcomes candidates from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, and is suitable for students who wish to develop their understanding of critical debates in this field, either as a foundation for further research or to enrich their practical and professional contribution to the urban arena.

What this course will give you

The UCL Urban Laboratory is the result of a unique collaboration between four faculties: Arts & Humanities, the UCL Bartlett, Engineering Sciences, and Social & Historical Sciences. It brings together the best urban teaching and research at UCL and this range of expertise will make this programme unparalleled in scope both within the UK and internationally.

Urban research at UCL draws on a rich heritage of ideas including the groundbreaking insights of figures such as Patrick Abercrombie, Peter Hall, Ruth Glass and Reyner Banham.

UCL's engagement in wider public debates in London and internationally regarding the future design and planning of cities is a distinctive feature of our research.

The foundation of your career

This programme will significantly improve the knowledge and skills necessary for careers in academia, public and private research, and other commercial and professional fields where an advanced understanding of cities and urban change is required. Through this programme, students will meet leading practitioners from fields such as architecture and planning, journalism, environmental sectors, as well as art (and community) activism-related actors. You will become part of a growing international network of graduates who are a valuable source of advice, information and guidance for current students.


Since the launch of the Urban Studies MSc in 2008, graduates from the programme have found employment in a variety of sectors such as municipal and local government, urban political organisations, art consultancies, communications companies, financial services, social enterprise initiatives, cultural institutions, community development organisations and think tanks.

Urban Studies graduates have an impressive record of continuing their research as PhD students - in geography, development planning, and architectural design - in the UK as well as in Europe and North America.

Teaching and learning

Assessment is through coursework in the form of essays and the dissertation. Oral presentations constitute a smaller part of assessment in some modules. 

Most modules are 15 credits with a select few comprising 30 credits. The former generally involves 150 learning hours per module including 20 hours of taught time (lectures and seminars), 60 hours of independent study, 10 hours of peer-to-peer learning, 10 hours of tutorial support, and 50 hours of coursework preparation (oral and written).


You will undertake a maximum of 8 taught modules and the research dissertation. Students can select from a wide range of optional modules including GEOG0099 Cities and Climate Change; GEOG0142 London: Aspects for Change; GEOG0139 Public Space and the City. See the Modules section below for more information.

Full time structure:
Term One:
You will take 2 compulsory modules and we recommend a maximum of 2 optional modules.

Term Two:
You will take 1 compulsory module and a maximum of 3 optional modules.

Term Three:
The dissertation planning commences in term two with the research and writing conducted in term three and the summer.

We recommend you take two of the three compulsory modules in your first year and two optional modules.  

In year two, you will take the remaining compulsory module and the required number of optional modules to complete the programme. Dissertation planning normally commences in the first year with research and writing conducted in the summer of both years and submission in September of the second year.

As a modular flexible student, you can study at your own pace over a maximum period of five years ensuring that you have completed the 3 compulsory modules and the required number of optional modules by the end of the programme. Dissertation planning normally commences before your final year with the submission of the dissertation in September of 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. The programme offers two pathways, standard and research. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Urban Studies.


Field visits within London will sometimes be offered as part of some of the taught modules. Field work is also generally expected for the collection of empirical material as part of the dissertation. 


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.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: UCL Geography

Join us to learn more about the following UCL Geography Master’s programmes: Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration MSc; Climate Change MSc; Conservation MSc; Remote Sensing and Environmental Mapping MSc; Urban Studies MSc; Social and Geographic Data Science MSc. Discover how our programmes are taught and what it's like to study in the department. This event is a great opportunity to meet some of our Master’s Convenors and ask them your own questions.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

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

While there are no planned field trips as part of the curriculum, certain modules do emphasise out-of-classroom learning involving field visits to sites within London. There are also social events to ensure students can gather together in an informal setting, the costs of which are borne individually. Visits to exhibitions if appropriate might be recommended (not compulsory) and again the cost of entrance fees to these will be borne by the students. 

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

ESRC funding exists for students taking the MSc as a prelude to a three-year PhD. Please check the UCL website for taught graduate scholarships

Overseas students: Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan, Ford Foundation International Fellowships, Marshall Scholarships and Fulbright Traditional Postgraduate Student Awards.

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 we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Urban Studies
  • why you want to study Urban Studies at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and/or professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • 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: 2023-2024

Got questions? Get in touch

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