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Course content

Cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America struggle with growth, and urban communities in the developing world are increasingly faced with problems relating to poverty, informality and inequality, climate change, insecurity and lack of social cohesion. Sustainable urban development planning in the global South is thus a complex task with many dimensions.

This interdisciplinary course, offered by the Global Urban Research Centre (GURC), draws on the advanced expertise of staff from the Global Development Institute (GDI), Planning and Environmental Management, Geography and Architecture, from within the School of Environment, Education and Development as well as Alliance Manchester Business School. It is suitable for students wishing to improve their understanding of urban development in cities of the global South in general, as well as development professionals seeking to acquire new expertise in dealing with urban issues, and social development specialists working in the voluntary, private or public sector. We particularly encourage applications from Latin American, African and Asian students.


An understanding of the cutting edge conceptual debates in global urban development theory and practice, by exploring analytical approaches and relating these to operational frameworks for policy, planning and programming to promote more equitable and sustainable urban development in cities and towns of the global South.

Analytical and practical skills to deepen your knowledge of global urban development and planning theories, as well as the ability to identify, investigate and justify possible solutions to problems arising out of theory and practice (including competency in developing reasoned arguments, finding commonalities and differences, and defending different approaches).

Skills necessary to gather, organise and employ evidence and information from a wide variety of sources, complemented by guidance on how best to manage workloads and obtain research materials, and support to develop your area of expertise through relevant research culminating in a dissertation.

Teaching and learning

The programme requires students to pass a total of eight course units totalling 120 credits of postgraduate study and to undertake a dissertation of 12000 -15000 words which provides a further 60 credits. You must normally complete 4 core course units compulsory for all students, and 4 optional course units selected from those available both within GDI and in other relevant disciplines within the Faculty of Humanities.

Part-time Study
Part-time students complete the full-time programme over 27 months. There are no evening or weekend course units available on the part-time programme, therefore if you are considering taking a programme on a part-time basis, you should discuss the requirements with the Programme Director first and seek approval from your employer to have the relevant time off. Timetabling information is normally available from late August from the Programme Administrator and you will have the opportunity to discuss course unit choices during Welcome Week with the Programme Directors.

Coursework and assessment

Most courses are assessed by essays, class presentations and examinations or a combination of these (depending on the course units selected). A dissertation of between 12,000-15,000 words provides an opportunity to obtain an advanced level of expertise in a particular subject area through supervised individual research.

Career opportunities

You will develop an advanced knowledge and skill base that can be applied to professional activities relating to a variety of urban-related fields. Past students have gone on to work as consultants for international development cooperation agencies; planners for national and local governments and private companies; and as practitioners in slum upgrading programmes, or international networks and national NGOs in cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Accrediting organisations

This course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). After completion of relevant work experience, you may be able in due course to proceed to full RTPI membership. Full RTPI accreditation is subject to appropriate option choice.

Visit the Global Urban Development and Planning - MSc page on the University of Manchester website for more details!





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