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Urban Development Planning - MSc/PGDip

Course Description

The Urban Development Planning MSc explores international practices in urban development policy, planning and management that address contemporary spatial, socio-economic and political transformations in cities of the Global South.

Degree information

This MSc aims to equip participants to work effectively as development practitioners in urban contexts through a deeper understanding of the processes that generate urban change. The programme aims to enhance their diagnostic and strategic capacities to respond to such change within the framework of socially just urban governance.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (90 credits), one optional module (30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits). A Postgraduate Diploma, three core modules (90 credits), one optional module (30 credits), full-time nine months, is offered.

Core modules
-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
-Practice in Urban Development Planning

Optional modules - please note, not all optional modules may be available.
-Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South
-An Introduction to Public Economics and Public Policy
-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
-Food and the City
-Gender in Policy and Planning
-Housing as Urbanism: Housing Policy and the Search for Scale
-Housing Policies: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options
-Industrialisation and Infrastructure
-Knowledge Systems and Sustainable Food Production
-Managing the City Economy
-Neo-Structuralism and the Developmental State
-NGOs and Social Transformation
-Participatory Processes: Building for Development
-Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives
-Social Diversity, Inequality and Poverty
-Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development
-Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics
-Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development

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 lectures, seminars, group work, workshops and field trips. Field trips so far have taken place in Egypt, Ghana, India, Thailand, and Tanzania. Student performance is assessed through essays, coursework, team project reports, written examinations, the overseas field trip and a 10,000-word dissertation.


This MSc is widely recognised by international organisations and agencies (such as UN agencies and the World Bank) and bilateral aid organisations from different countries. 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. Graduates have also been employed by international NGOs and aid and development agencies. Some graduates return to their home countries and engage in the practice, teaching or research of urban development practice; other graduates have successfully sought employment in international development organisations away from their own countries.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Investment Banker, Standard Bank
-Assistant Researcher, Institute for Urban Studies, Hangzhou Normal University and studying BSc Economics, The University of London
-Research Assistant, Erzurum Technical University
-Regional Programme Assistant, Merlin
-Shelter Co-Ordinator, Save the Children

The programme aims to help students:
-Prepare balanced, critical and comparative analysis and argument based on theory and empirical evidence.
-Undertake a comprehensive diagnosis of the problems and opportunities in urban development in specific contexts.
-Formulate systematic and reasoned proposals that address the multi-dimensional complexity of various urban development situations, including organisational and institutional development.
-Build presentation, advocacy and negotiation skills.
-Develop research skills including interviewing, conceptual framework formulation, and the abilitiy to analyse a range of information sources.
-Enhance their teamwork skills.
-Operate professionally in an unfamiliar environment within the context of a developing country.

Why study this degree at UCL?

This programme argues that planning is key to dealing with urban problems and opportunities presented by rapid urbanisation in the Global South, but that its potential cannot be harnessed without a critical understanding of the processes that generate urban change in specific contexts.

The programme seeks to equip students with the capacity to develop critical diagnoses of urban issues, as a basis for developing propositional responses within the framework of socially, spatially and environmentally just urban governance.

The programme promotes a deeper understanding of community-led and partnership-based urban development planning. Students also benefit from the Development Planning Unit's longstanding and geographically exhaustive alumni and partner network.

Visit the Urban Development Planning - MSc/PGDip page on the University College London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) - 5 Awards

The Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), and UK universities, to support scholarships for students from developing Commonwealth countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the United Kingdom.The aim of the scheme is to assist students from developing Commonwealth countries who are of excellent academic calibre but for financial reasons would not otherwise be able to afford to study in the United Kingdom. The scheme allows them to benefit from postgraduate study at a university in the United Kingdom which will help them to contribute toward the development of their home countries.Awards are for taught Master's programmes only, subjects must be related to the economic, social and technological development of a candidate's country. UCL expects to be able to allocate five awards this academic year.Applicants must:
- Be nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) a Commonwealth developing country, and not currently be living or studying in a developed country (please see the CSSS information booklet for a list of eligible countries);
- Hold a first degree at either first- or upper second-class level;
- Be sufficiently fluent in English to pursue the programme;
- Have not previously studied for one year or more in a developed country;
- Not be employed by a government department (at national level) or a parastatal organisation (employees of universities are normally acceptable);
- Be themselves, or through families, unable to pay for the proposed programme of study in the UK;
- Be willing to confirm that they will return to their home country as soon as their period of study is complete.
- Apply for admission to UCL for one of the eligible programmes below:Value, Benefits and Duration:
- The award will cover tuition fees, a maintenance allowance, economy air travel to and from the UK at the beginning and end of the scholar’s degree programme plus additional discretionary allowances.
- Awards are normally tenable for one year.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)


- Be nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) a Commonwealth developing country, and not currently be living or studying in a developed country (please see the CSSS information booklet for a list of eligible countries);
- Hold a first degree at either first- or upper second-class level;

Application Procedure

- You must separately apply for admission to UCL for one of the eligible programmes through the standard admissions procedure.
- You must apply for the scholarship on the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS) online following the procedures described on their website.
- In order to be considered for this scholarship at UCL, you must complete the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS) online: by the deadline of T23:59 (UCT) Sunday, 21 February 2016.

Further Information



Bartlett Masters Scholarship - 20+ Awards

The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, offers 20 scholarships for MSc, MRes, MA and MArch students, each worth £5,000, to be used as partial fee remittance for study. Applications have been closed for the 2015/2016 scheme. Please check this page for announcements about the 2016/2017 Masters Scholarship Scheme.All postgraduate students, including continuing students, can be considered for this scholarship, regardless of study mode or fee status. The Bartlett, through this award, hopes to encourage students from under-represented groups to embark on a postgraduate qualification at UCL. The application form has an Equal Opportunities Monitoring section which asks for details on your ethnicity. Eligibility will be means-tested and will take into account total funds available to the applicant.Please note, scholarship applicants do not necessarily require an offer of admission by the deadline date, but will need to have submitted a complete application for study.

Value of Scholarship(s)



- BME applicants
- International students
- Those who commenced their undergraduate studies (in a UK university) pre-2012
- Successful applicants will need to meet two core criteria:
- Applicants must hold an offer of study to commence study in September 2015 (or be continuing, if following a modular/flexible course of study)
- Applicants must be able to pay the remainder of their fees and all living expenses

Application Procedure

To apply, please complete the Masters Scholarship Scheme application form and send it to [email protected]

Further Information



Brown Family Bursary - No. of awards TBC

Selection criteria
The bursary will be awarded based on financial need only as determined by the Student Funding Office.Value, Benefits and Duration:
- The value of the bursary is £15,000. The payment is to be applied to tuition fees in the first instance, with any remainder being paid to the successful applicant towards maintenance in termly instalments.
- The bursary is tenable for one year only.
- The bursary may not be held alongside other tuition fee only awards.

Value of Scholarship(s)



- prospective full-time UK Master's students who are undertaking a one-year programme of study in the Faculties of the Built Environment, Engineering Sciences or Mathematical & Physical Sciences (BEAMS) in 2015/16
- currently holding a first-class Bachelor's degree; and
- in financial need.

Application Procedure

See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate/UK-EU-Master/uclalumniandfriends

Further Information


Entry Requirements

The normal minimum qualifications are a second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. A minimum of six months work experience is also recommended. Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic requirements may, in exceptional cases, be admitted to the programme if they are able to demonstrate considerable senior-level professional experience in planning or a related field and an ability to engage academically with the subject matter.

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