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Development and Urbanisation (MSc)

Course Description

This programme responds to the growing demands made on the humanitarian and development sectors by intensive urbanisation. This course has been established by the research and consultancy group on International Development, Emergencies and Refugees (IDEARS) - part of the Weeks Centre at LSBU. If you wish to pursue a career with government, non-governmental organisations, international agencies, public and private organisations and enterprises, this course is for you.

Rapidly urbanising world

Ours is a rapidly urbanising world: by 2010 over half the world's population lived in cities. Urbanization is fastest in the developing world, where both primary and secondary cities are rapidly expanding. It is predicted that by 2020 more Africans will live in urban than in rural areas, and in China, by 2023. Except in countries emerging from war, urbanisation is closely linked to economic growth, although urban poverty levels continue to rise.

This rapid growth, particularly in the light of its links to the flight from rural poverty and the development of a massive informal sector, has posed immense challenges to all urban systems. In many Asian, Latin American and African cities 30-70% of the population lives in slums and more than 90% of new jobs are in the informal sector. In transition countries, already highly urbanised, the changing political and economic framework has led to widespread poverty. Everywhere, urban roads, utilities, education and health services, and governance processes are heavily strained. While cities experience high levels of investment, it is often uneven.

This context is now widely recognized among all major actors, with policy and programmes targeting the urban sector now a growth area. The challenge for development professionals, whether working in donor agencies, NGOs, governments or private practice, is to understand the broad economic and political context of urbanization, develop analyses of complex urban trends, opportunities and problems, and be able to draw on a range of appropriate interventions. People seeking work or progression in development practice will be moving into a growth area if they can demonstrate familiarity with urban issues and policies in developing countries.

See the website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/courses/course-finder/msc-development-and-urbanisation


You'll explore urban issues, strongly linked to analyses of broader development issues, which will prepare them for roles in development agencies, NGOs, urban management or community work. It provides a thorough grounding in the broad agendas of poverty reduction and its global context. At the same time it provides a thorough understanding of rapidly changing urban settings and enables students to acquire practical development planning skills for an urban setting. An emphasis on research as well as practical skills allows students to specialise in their particular areas of interest.

- Economies in transition
The module analyses and assesses the main development strategies implemented by developing countries in recent years, focusing on case studies from Africa, Latin America and Asia, outlining their key achievements and problem areas. This analysis then forms the basis for examining the possibilities for and outcomes of different types of industrialisation in the coming years, within a global context. The module combines detailed case study examples from particular types of industrialising economy, including examples from the rural, services, and raw material extractive sectors.

- Human development in a globalising world
This module focuses initially on the roles and inter-relations between corporations, governments, international agencies, multilateral institutions, corporations and non-governmental organisations in the global economy. It then goes on to examine these inter-relations in relation to the shifting power relations in the global economy. It aims in particular to examine the relations between growth, capacities for improving human capital, infrastructure development, livelihoods improvement and poverty reduction. The conclusions of the module feed into the case studies analysed in the Semester Two Economies in Transition module.

- Forced migration and development
The module introduces the key concepts in Forced Migration and Development and different categories of forced migrants--asylum-seekers, refugees, IDPs, oustees and disaster victims. It examines the multiple and complex nature of Forced Migration, evaluates the responses of the international, inter-governmental, non-governmental and governmental responses to the short-medium and long-term needs of forced migrants and the poor sections of the host population. It critically analyses and evaluates the positive and negative impacts of forced migrants on host commmoduleies. How forced migrants (re)-construct their commmoduleies and livelihoods in countries of asylum and places of destination, as well in countries and places of origin in the context of post-conflict reconstruction are also examined in detail.

- Urban challenges
The module addresses a wide range of topical and interlinked issues relevant to the evolution, tensions, economies, societies, cultures and demographies of developing-country cities; and the evolving frameworks for aid, governance, planning and management of their economic, social and physical space. It will draw on expertise of colleagues in practice and advocacy to explicate the links between theory and practice; and on seminars and special events to deepen understanding of the links between urban, and broader development contexts.

- Urban project
In this module students will develop a project in a developing-country city. In Part One of the project, students work in groups to develop a project background portfolio. In Part Two individual students propose a development plan for part of the project site which will focus on livelihoods, public space, housing, infrastructure, or Community development. Projects will be presented in class, but also uploaded on a website.

- Research methods
A series of lectures introduces students to the main epistemological approaches to research and key research strategies in the Development field, and focuses on mixed-methods research (MMR). In parallel, students will participate in tutor-led workshops to develop data summary and analysis skills with specific computer-based packages.


Students on our MSc Development and Urbanisation course will benefit from the renewed international interest in the urban sphere. Previous graduates have entered careers with a wide range of employers, working for international organisations, such as, the United Nations and its constituent organisations, the World Bank, the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

Many take up important posts in their home countries within government, non-government and civil society organisations or non-governmental development organisations in the UK, such as Christian Aid and Oxfam, in addition to teaching posts in universities and colleges specialising in Development research and practice.

For students interested in further academic development or mid-career progression, successful completion of the MSc provides eligibility for our large and lively Mphil programme.

LSBU Employability Services

LSBU is committed to supporting you develop your employability and succeed in getting a job after you have graduated. Your qualification will certainly help, but in a competitive market you also need to work on your employability, and on your career search. Our Employability Service will support you in developing your skills, finding a job, interview techniques, work experience or an internship, and will help you assess what you need to do to get the job you want at the end of your course. LSBU offers a comprehensive Employability Service, with a range of initiatives to complement your studies, including:

- direct engagement from employers who come in to interview and talk to students
- Job Shop and on-campus recruitment agencies to help your job search
- mentoring and work shadowing schemes.

Teaching and learning

- Dissertation and voluntary work placement
Part of the dissertation may be replaced with a voluntary work placement in one of our partner organisations. Through the use of case studies you will analyse a comprehensive range of development issues, such as: markets, trade and the global economy; the role of international institutions and agencies; human development; poverty and poverty reduction; social provision in developing countries; rural development and urbanisation; environmental policies and sustainable development; empowerment and participation; migration.

Through a specialist theoretical module you'll also acquire a thorough grounding in urban development issues and their links to a broad development agenda; and this will be followed by a project module which will enable you to apply the theory and understand the necessary skills to plan, execute and monitor an urban development project. The course also develops the skills required to undertake development research, focusing on appropriate methodologies, data collection, policy design and implementation.

Visit the Development and Urbanisation (MSc) page on the London South Bank University website for more details!

Student Profiles

Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship - 20+ Awards

At London South Bank University (LSBU) we understand how important a postgraduate degree is to career progression and professional fulfilment. The Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship programme offers a range of awards from £1,000 bursaries to full fee waivers, creating opportunities for a variety of postgraduate students. The programme is made possible by donations to the University's Annual Fund from alumni and other supporters.

Value of Scholarship(s)



All Home, EU or International students who have firmly accepted their unconditional or conditional offer of a place to study on an eligible postgraduate programme at LSBU are invited to apply for a scholarship in up to three categories. Their application will be assessed and, if successful, the student will receive one award. Only one application is allowed.

Application Procedure

You will be invited to apply online via email after you firmly accept your unconditional or conditional offer to study at LSBU. We recommend you apply for your place at LSBU as soon as possible to ensure you have been made an offer by the scholarship deadline of Friday 10 July, 2015.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A minimum of a 2:2 first degree/Bachelor degree equivalent to UK Second Class Honours Lower Division in a relevant subject area.Relevant professional experience will be considered, you'll be assessed on your professional statement in addition to other entry requirements.We welcome equivalent qualifications from around the world. English language qualifications for international students: IELTS score of 6.5, Cambridge Proficiency or Advanced Grade C.

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