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Building and Urban Design in Development - MSc

Course Description

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.

Degree information

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), two optional modules (30 credits) and a development and planning report (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 Policy, Programme and Project Alternatives
-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

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

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.


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.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Architectural Assistant, Foster + Partners
-Architectural Designer, Thinking Development
-Research Assistant/PhD in Development Planning, UCL
-Urban Designer/Visual Designer, Nanjing Yangtze River Urban Architectural Design Co. Ltd
-Project Manager, Home Office

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.

Visit the Building and Urban Design in Development - MSc 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


Entry Requirements

The normal minimum qualifications are a good second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. A second acceptable qualification is a degree of lower than second-class Honours standard, or an equivalent overseas qualification, in a subject appropriate to the programme, plus relevant work experience. Applicants who do not hold a first degree 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.

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