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Course content

Cities are now a critical focus for research, policy-making and public debate. According to the United Nations, three-quarters of the global population will live in cities by 2050. This MSc develops innovative, comparative and interdisciplinary modes of analysis and research that can address the scale and complexity of contemporary urbanism.

About this degree

Students develop an advanced understanding of urban theory, and explore the main urban developments shaping the contemporary world. The programme focuses on the interface between theory and practice across a diverse range of topics, from historic patterns of urban change to large-scale challenges such as slums, poverty and access to basic services, and current developments in urban design and the visual arts.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme offers two pathways, standard and research.

The standard pathway consists of three core modules (45 credits), five options (75 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits). Research consists of four core modules (75 credits), three options (45 credits), and a dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

  • Urban Imaginations
  • Cities, Space and Power
  • Urban Practices
  • Research route only:
  • Social Science Research Methodologies (30 credits)

Optional modules

Options may include the following: 

  • Asian Cities in a Globalising South
  • London: Aspects of Change
  • Creative Cities
  • Cities and Climate Change
  • Community Participation in City Strategies
  • Comparative Urbanism
  • Spatial Planning
  • Migration and Urban Multicultures
  • Anthropology of Architecture
  • Planning Practices in Europe
  • Thinking Space
  • Transforming Local Areas
  • Representation of Cities

Dissertation/report

All students undertake an individual research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 12,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, field trips, tutorials, discussion groups, presentations and group work. Assessment is through coursework in the form of essays, and the dissertation.

Careers

Since the launch of the Urban Studies MSc in 2008/2009, 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: at the University of Zurich; the Open University; UCL; LSE; Universidade do Porto; TU Berlin; and the University of Minnesota.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Market Business Analyst, Transport for London (TfL)
  • Secondary School Teacher (Geography and Mathematics), Ministry of Education - Singapore
  • Research Administrator, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • PhD in Geography, UCL
  • Academic, İzmir Kâtip Çelebi Üniversitesi (Izmir Kâtip Çelebi Universite)

Employability

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 the fields of architecture, journalism, transport planning, environmental management, art and urban activism. You will become part of a growing international network of graduates who are a valuable source of advice, information and guidance for current students.

Why study this degree at UCL?

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.


Visit the Urban Studies (MSc) page on the University College London website for more details!

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