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Course content

The production, reproduction and transformation of urban space via socially, economically, and environmentally just methods presents a complex challenge for professionals. This MSc combines cultural, social, economic, political and spatial analysis to recalibrate the urban design project, presenting a holistic response in which informality and marginality are central features.

About this degree

The programme will equip students with a political economy understanding of space; a comprehension of the needs, abilities, aspirations and forms of resistance of urban dwellers; the ability to respond with strategically co-ordinated proposals to leverage local abilities to meet local needs; and an ability to critically engage with the practice of urban design and architecture in developmental processes – particularly in the Global South.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (90 credits), either one or two optional modules (30 credits) and a development and planning dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

  • Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development
  • Participatory Process: Building for Development
  • The BUDD Studio: Building and Urban Design Practice

Optional modules

  • Critical Urbanism Studio I. Learning from Informality: Case studies and alternatives
  • Critical Urbanism Studio II: Investigative Design Strategies for Contested Spaces
  • Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities
  • Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
  • Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
  • Housing as Urbanism: Housing Policy and the Search for Scale
  • Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
  • The Political Ecology of Environmental Change
  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
  • Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
  • Social Policy and Citizenship
  • Gender in Policy and Planning
  • The City and its Relations: Context, Institutions and Actors in Urban Development Planning
  • Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management: Strategic Action in Theory and Practice
  • Transport Equity and Urban Mobility
  • Industrialisation and Infrastructure
  • Food and the City
  • Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: Knowledge Systems in the Global South
  • NGOs and Social Transformation
  • Contemporary Approaches to Development Management

Please note, the availability of some modules may be dependent on student numbers

Dissertation/report

All MSc students submit a 10,000-word report on a topic related to the main themes of the programme. The topic can be chosen to enhance career development or for its inherent interest.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of weekly lectures, seminar presentations, group exercises and workshops. The BUDD studio includes a fieldwork project in an urban reality of the Global South, developed in partnership with local organisations, networks of communities, slum dweller federations, universities and governments alike. Students are encouraged to explore different tools, concepts and ideas throughout the programme and test these during the field project. Assessment is through coursework, design work, written examinations and the 10,000-word report.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Building and Urban Design in Development MSc

Careers

The programme enables graduates to work in NGOs and local government – facilitating community organisations and households to improve their living conditions. Graduate destinations range from UK-based organisations in the public, private and community sectors, to governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, which operate in a development capacity in the South. Recent graduates have also been employed by international NGOs and aid and development agencies and architectural and design practices. Some graduates return to their home countries and engage in urban design and architecture practice, teaching, or research of urban development there; others have successfully sought employment away from their own countries.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Architectural Assistant, Callison
  • PhD in Housing Policy, Sapienza University of Rome
  • Project Manager, Home Office
  • Urban Designer / Visual Designer, Nanjing Yangtze River Urban Architectural Design Co., Ltd
  • Construction Manager, Protemus

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Bartlett is the UK's largest multidisciplinary faculty of the built environment, bringing together dozens of scientific and professional specialisms required to research, understand, design, construct and operate the buildings and urban environments of the future.

The Development Planning Unit is an international centre concerned with promoting sustainable forms of development, understanding rapid urbanisation and encouraging innovation in the policy, planning and management responses to the economic, social and environmental development of cities and regions, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its programmes are supported by international agencies as well as by national and provincial governments.

The Building and Urban Design in Development (BUDD) programme in particular reflects on the necessity of design practices to contribute to changing the mainstream paradigm of working with the urban poor, with communities and the city itself.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Development Planning Unit

81% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.


Visit the Building and Urban Design in Development (MSc) page on the University College London website for more details!

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