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MPhil/PhD Development Planning

Research at the DPU embraces issues relevant to development processes in a range of countries around the world.

Why choose The Bartlett

We offer:

  • access to a large range of world-class libraries, including those in UCL and other universities, and the British Library
  • easy access to a vast array of specialised lectures, conferences and other events relevant to DPU's research students around central London
  • the chance to gain a thorough knowledge of a particular subject area and an in-depth exploration of an empirical reality
  • equal emphasis on both the process and content of research, within the very highest standards of scholarship and academic rigour

About the course

The MPhil and PhD research programmes are self-selected academic study in international, national, regional and urban development. Successful PhD research in UCL should make a distinct contribution to knowledge.

Most doctoral research includes a period of fieldwork in a country relevant to the research, during which the PhD candidate acquires a thorough knowledge of the context and collects primary data.

More information

For more information, please contact:

All higher research degree candidates in University College London enrol for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree that, subject to satisfactory progress, is upgraded to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

The programme starts in September of each year with a six-month period of intensive structured study. MPhil/PhD students should complete their research, submit their thesis and take the final examination within a period of 36 to 48 months of starting the programme. The minimum period of full-time registration for both degrees is two years, though few candidates complete their study for a PhD in less than three.

The DPU programme, like all doctoral programmes in Britain, places great emphasis on a close one-to-one working relationship between the candidate and their supervisor. This is supported, in the first year, by an introductory two-term taught programme which is compulsory for all first-year students comprising a Doctoral Seminar series and a Research Methodology Seminar series. In addition, new participants must attend a two-term Specialisation Module selected from the broad range of MSc modules taught in the Unit. In some cases, supervisors may suggest that a candidate also enrols in, or audits, an additional taught module.

All students are initially registered for the degree of MPhil. Those wishing to pursue a PhD degree are expected to upgrade to PhD no later than 12 months after commencing their studies.

Following the upgrade, candidates maintain close contact with their primary supervisor and are expected to share the results of their work with other researchers, both within the DPU and elsewhere, particularly through academic conferences, as well as through articles for publication in refereed academic journals.

The Development Planning Unit (DPU) is committed to offering the highest quality education at the MPhil and PhD levels. Our programmes are highly competitive, with successful applicants coming from a wide range of backgrounds. The DPU’s staff and student body hail from every corner of the globe, bringing together a diversity of interests, experiences, and knowledge.

For profiles of our current PhD and MPhil students, please visit our People pages. Within these pages you can also view the latest Achievements of our current and recent PhD students.

Research Facilities

UCL has 16 libraries  In addition to paper resources, thousands of specialised electronic journals and a growing number of books are available for UCL staff and students. The Library also provides access to a variety of bibliographical databases and full-text resources.

The British Library  is located only a few minutes’ walk from the DPU. Its collection of well over 150 million items in most known languages, with three million new items added every year, makes it one of the most important libraries in the world.

The University of London Research Library Services
comprise the libraries at the center of London University – the Senate House Library, and those of the Institutes of the School of Advanced Study. These include almost three million volumes and provide over 12 miles of open shelf access to collections. In addition to this, students registered in UCL have access to most academic libraries in London, including those of the London School of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, Birkbeck, etc.

The Graduate School's Skills Development Programme  is open to all Graduate research students at UCL to help them expand generic research skills and personal transferable skills, intended to help in doing research and also to enhance life skills and employability. These are free to registered students.

Over 30 PC workrooms are available for use by all UCL students and there are about 50 open-access computer workrooms running centrally managed Windows desktops around campus and on some outlying sites. These can be used on a drop-in basis when they are not booked for classes.

Additionally, there are several computers located in the DPU PhD Room that are available for MPhil/PhD students only. Wi-Fi is widely available throughout UCL, including DPU.

The DPU also has facilities for photocopying and binding for Research students.

Application procedures and fees

For information, please see the faculty admissions information here

Funding and Scholarships

Please visit the UCL Scholarships & Funding portal for detailed information.

This year we are happy to offer the DPU60 Doctoral Scholarship for new students.


Before applying formally, you are strongly suggested to contact DPU Programme staff to advise on the suitability of your proposal. Please send a copy of your curriculum vitae and a 1-2 page summary of your research proposal to Colin Marx, Director of the PhD programme.

Once you have received feedback from DPU staff, you can apply via the normal UCL procedures. More information and links are available here. Please note that our usual admissions process takes three months, and applicants who need to apply for Tier 4 Visas would need to submit a completed application no later than 1st of June to be considered in time for starting in September. Applicants who do not need a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK should submit their applications by 30th of June to be in time for a September start. Later submissions will be considered for the following year.

Unfortunately the DPU60 Award is unavailable for 2017. We hope to reinstate it for 2018.

The Bartlett Development Planning Unit is offering a fully-funded scholarship for doctoral studies on questions related to the Unit’s work.

In 2014, the DPU celebrated 60 years of education, training, research, consultancy and knowledge sharing in urban and regional development policy and planning in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. DPU’s focus on urban development and planning in what is now often referred to as ‘the Global South’ was unique in the UK and abroad at the time of its establishment in 1954, and when it moved to UCL from the Architectural Association in 1971. In a world predicted to be 75% urban by 2050, we continue to feel the urgency of our historical commitment to contributing to social and environmental justice through building the capacity of current and future institutions and generations of practitioners addressing urban, regional and national development. Firmly rooted in our academic obligation to challenge orthodox development agendas, we have chosen our 60th anniversary year to launch a PhD scholarship scheme. This is the third year of the Scheme and the scholarship will cover three years of full-time tuition and maintenance, 2 return flights (if necessary) and a fieldwork grant.


Only applications from new / prospective students who have applied formally to the UCL Development Planning Unit research degree by 5pm GMT on 29 February 2016 will be considered. There are no restrictions regarding the nationality or domicile of the applicant.


One individual will be awarded the following: up to £18,670 for tuition fees per year (increasing per year); approx. £16,539 for maintenance per year, incl. London weighting (increasing per year); up to £1,500 for two return flights; up to £450 for fieldwork support (if required).


The award is to be assessed based on merit. Alongside the formal application, applicants are required to submit a motivation for consideration consisting of an application form (including the summaries of the proposed research), a research proposal (approx. 3000 words), personal statement and provide two references. The DPU’s Departmental Graduate Tutor will shortlist up to five applicants to be considered by a panel consisting of the DPU Director, DPU Research Director and DPU Departmental Graduate Tutor. The top three applicants will be interviewed.


Unfortunately the DPU60 Award is unavailable for 2017. We hope to reinstate it for 2018.

Guidance Notes and Forms

Related UCL Scholarships

Urban Studies ESRC DTC Pathway

Urban Studies is one of the pathways for the UCL Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). More information can be found through the website, including detailed instructions of how to apply

Application deadline: 5pm on 8 Feb 2016

Graduate Research Scholarships (GRS) and Overseas Research Scholarships (ORS)

Applications are open for Graduate Research Scholarships (GRS) and Overseas Research Scholarships (ORS) until Friday 20 January 2017

UCL-China Scholarships Council Research Scholarships

Departments will be permitted to submit one extra nomination if they have a student wishing to apply for one of the 5 open UCL-China Scholarships Research Scholarships.

Graduate Research Scholarships for Cross Disciplinary Training (One-Year)

There are 4 scholarships available to current research students who wish to spend an additional year of their MPhil/PhD or EngD in another UCL department acquiring research skills and knowledge from a different discipline, which can be applied in their normal area of research.  The deadline for this scheme is Wednesday 20 January 2016Further details can be found here.

UCL CSC Research Student Visiting Awards (One-Year)

Due to a lack of funding, we will not be able to offer this scheme for 2016/17, but information on 2017/18 entry will be confirmed this time next year here.

This list includes a selection of PhD theses from 2009 to 2012

Alaily-Mattar, N. (2010) Segregation for aggregation? The pattern and logic of spatial segregation practices of young affluent heads of households in the post-war city of Beirut. 

Aragón-Durand, F.d.J. (2009) Unpacking the social construction of 'natural' disaster through policy discourses and institutional responses in Mexico: the case of Chalco Valley's floods, State of Mexico. 

Auramaa, P.I. (2010) The production of infrastructure in partnership with communities: does participation make owners?

Dan-Azumi, J.J. (2011) Agricultural sustainability of smallholder floodplain agricultural systems: a case study of Fadama areas in North-Central Nigeria.

Haddad, F.de-M. (2010) Space and society: the contradictory roles of public parks in São Paulo.

López Morales, E.J. (2009) Urban entrepreneurialism and creative destruction: a case-study of the urban renewal strategy in the peri-centre of Santiago de Chile, 1990-2005.

Manoochehri, J. (2010) Social policy and housing: reflections of social values.

Tovivich, S. (2011) Architecture for the urban poor, the 'new professionalism' of 'community architects' and the implications for architectural education: reflections on practice from Thailand.

Veríssimo, C.F. (2012) Visioning the Agrocity: the significance of outdoor domestic space to an ecodevelopment model of medium size cities, the case study of Dondo, Mozambique

Walls, M.J. (2011) State formation in Somaliland: bringing deliberation to institutionalism.

Zeng, H.Y. (2010) The impact of fiscal decentralization and market transition on local public finance in China: fiscal inadequacy and unmet social security needs.