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MSc Development Administration & Planning


The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Development Administration and Planning (DAP) at the Bartlett's Development Planning Unit (DPU) is a 12-month programme, designed to equip participants with the analytical, methodological and practical expertise needed to make a positive contribution to development in countries with which they are actively involved.

In particular, it helps students to acquire a range of tools for the formulation of appropriate responses to a diverse range of problems, including those relating to productive capacity, inter-sectoral integration, economic and social diversification and self-sufficiency. The course examines strategies for better export performance and efficiency in production, combined with policies relating to questions of distribution and, in particular, the reduction of poverty and inequality.

In recent decades the world has witnessed a much faster pace of economic growth, social advancement and expansion in international trade than at any previous time in history. The efforts of governments, private investors and rural and urban communities have been decisive in sustaining this development drive. Yet gaps remain between rich and poor nations, as well as between regions and people within the same country. In many cases, disparities between rich and poor are growing. So while some countries and individuals have made significant advances in an increasingly globalised world, others have fallen further behind.

Development remains a crucial challenge for governments and organisations the world over. For developing countries this means making the best use of their human, natural and cultural resources. For the people and governments of developed nations as well as for international organisations this generates a responsibility to seek frameworks for more equitable and sustainable forms of development. Critical awareness and expertise is crucial in achieving these goals. Of particular importance is the ability to understand and analyse situations and processes that impede or facilitate the development process and to formulate appropriate policies for meeting development goals.

By critically examining the theory and practice of development administration at the international, national and regional levels in a variety of contexts, the course seeks to provide participants with an understanding of the processes generating social change and with the skills and abilities to respond to such change. The course retains the DPU's long-standing preoccupation with planning for and with action. Its approach is critical, analytical and comparative.

The programme includes an overseas field trip, conducted in a developing country. This gives students the opportunity to study both the practical concerns of development, and the cultural, administrative and institutional context in which decisions are made.

Contact details

Programme Directors: Michael Walls & Kamna Patel

Graduate Teaching Assistant: Lilian Schofield


The course is structured so that 75 per cent of the taught components (90 credits) is devoted to the core subjects of development administration and planning and 25 per cent (30 credits) to an option from a range of modules on offer. The core modules provide the theoretical and methodological components of the course while the optional module allows students to examine different problems and approaches in accordance with their own particular interests.

Course participants will be required to read, write essays and complete individual and group project work, with teaching involving lectures, seminars, workshops, case study analysis and a field trip abroad. Previous field trip destinations have included Egypt, Ghana, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Student performance is assessed through course work, examinations and a final dissertation report.

Below is a diagram outlining the course structure in terms of modules and distribution of credit hours:

MSc DAP course structure 2015-16


Core modules

DAA-  Critical Ideas of Development: Conceptions and Realities introduces participants to the historical evolution of the theories and ideas underpinning development interventions. The aim of the module is to provide students with a clear understanding of development theories and the historical circumstances in which they were produced, as well as their strategic implications. Students are assessed by unseen written exam.

DAB- Contemporary Approaches to Development Management explores the common tools and approaches employed in development management and provides students with a clear understanding of their theoretical underpinnings, uses and critiques. Students are assessed with a written assignment.

DA4- Development in Practice is a three-term composite module. This module is designed to expose students to the tools and instruments of planned intervention in a range of development fields. It also aims to develop participants’ analytical and evaluative capacity, whilst strengthening their professional and team-working skills. It consists of a London-based team exercise, two workshops in the first term, an overseas field trip in the third term, and a series of skills development seminars.

DA6- Society and Market: Private Agency for Development explores the theoretical base and implications for development planning and practice of market- and civil society-led approaches to development. It focuses on conceptions of ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’, livelihoods and ‘making markets work for the poor’ (M4P) approaches that permeate contemporary development policy and practice. Students are assessed with a written assignment.

Optional Modules offered by DAP

DA5- Neo-Structuralism and the Developmental State considers differing conceptions of the state as a primary agent in social and economic development processes by examining case studies from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. This module also seeks to familiarise the student with the opportunities and constraints posed by the global integrated process of production to planning for independent styles of development. Students are assessed with a written assignment.

DA8- Political Economy of Development: Land, Food and Agriculture aims to expose students to the inextricable linkages between agricultural policy, land allocation, food insecurity (local and global), good governance, conflict, and famine, and to consider how these elements impact people living in poverty in both rural and urban areas in the developing world. Students are assessed with a written assignment.

DA9- Political Economy of Development: Industrialisation and Infrastructure seeks to critically examine the contribution of industrialisation and infrastructure to national, regional and local development in the Global South. By focusing on these two issues, which often stand at the centre of national/local government policies, the module looks in detail at some of the forces that help shape national development from both a theoretical and an empirical viewpoint. Students are assessed with a written assignment.

Optional modules offered by other Masters in the DPU

(please note that enrolment onto each module is subject to places being available)

BU1- Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development provides a structured understanding of the forces that shape and develop cities, particularly in countries of the global south; as well as the intellectual and theoretical bases for a recalibration of urban design praxis.

BU4- Housing Policy, Programme and Project Alternatives looks at the substantial changes that have taken place in housing policy over the last few decades. The role of the state, its relation to the other agents and actors involved in housing production and provision, the levels and instruments of public intervention in housing - all have gone through considerable transformation.

BU6- Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities provides a detailed examination and structured understanding of Disaster Studies and Disaster Risk Reduction, with specific reference to urban areas.

BU8- Critical Urbanism Studio I - Learning from Informality: Case Studies and Alternatives targets individuals of diverse academic backgrounds and levels of professional experience. This studio-based module promotes the merits of existing project scenarios and a critical understanding of case-study analysis and research in design processes.

BU9- Critical Urbanism Studio II - Learning from Informality: Investigative Design Strategies for Contested Spaces is the second Critical Urbanism Studio module. It proactively builds upon the accumulated knowledge and conceptual framework of case study analysis (BENVGBU8) while focusing on a more profoundly phenomenological investigation into the multiplicity of contested developing arenas following a 'design as critique/resistance' attitude.

PU1- The City and Its Relations: Context, Institutions and Actors in Urban Development Planning explores the economic, social and physical change of cities in the wider context of development and globalisation.

PU2- Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management: Strategic Action in Theory and Practice explores strategic action in urban development policy, planning and management that recognises social justice in cities.

PU4- Gender in Policy and Planning is an 18-session module over two terms examining gender relations in the socio-economic, political and environmental processes in the development of human settlements

BENVGPU5 Transport Equity and Urban Mobility focuses on the relationships between social identity, transport and planning in the context of urban development in the Global South. It critiques and explores the implications for transport planning and its interaction with other kinds of planning, and the relationships between the state, civil society and private sector in the provision of transport for more socially just cities.

ES1- The Political Ecology of Environmental Change starts by providing a comprehensive review and critical analysis of the contemporary debate on development and environmental sustainability.

ES4- Urban Agriculture looks at the way in which our rapidly changing world now presents us with immense challenges linked to peak oil and climate change. Rising cereal prices threaten to trigger a global food crisis, while the cost of energy involved in long-distance transportation and refrigeration of food is no longer sustainable.

ES5- Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South aims to provide participants with an understanding of the ways in which climate change will affect urban areas in low- and middle- income countries.

SD1- Social Policy and Citizenship looks at socially sensitive development, which has its roots in the social sector and social welfare models that were developed during the last century.

SD2- Social Diversity Inequality and Poverty explores the theoretical debates that link diverse social identities and power relations, and the competing models of equity that attempt to reconcile them.

UE1- Urban Development and Economics offers an introduction to the key economic concepts, theories and tools applied to problem diagnosis and policy making in urban development through a series of lectures, seminars and seminar-workshops.


The MSc DAP is taught by DPU staff and associate teaching fellows held in high esteem by their peers internationally and renowned for their contribution to academic thinking and development practice. Please follow the links below to learn more about the teaching staff and associates.

Programme Directors

Dr Michael Walls

Dr Kamna Patel

Lecturers and Teaching Fellows

Prof Julio D Dávila

Naji Makarem

Jorge Fiori

Zeremariam Fre

Dr Robinson Rojas

James Oporia-Ekwaro

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Lilian Schofield

DAP Staff Publications

For more information about DPU staff, please visit our general personnel page here.


Please click through to the UCL graduate prospectus page for this course, from where you can find information on application fees, eligibility, tuition fees, scholarships, and then complete the online application process.

Please note for September 2016 entry applications onward TOEFL will be accepted.

Read more about the English Language Requirements and accepted tests on the UCL entry requirements website.

Applicants should also review the faculty specific admissions information and the FAQ on admissions.


This strongly interdisciplinary course attracts, among others, anthropologists, economists, geographers, lawyers, politicians and public administrators. Since the course’s beginnings in the mid-1990s, graduates have been engaged in a diversity of professional positions , including in local, regional and national governments, consultancy firms, national and international NGOs, United Nations programmes, international aid agencies, multilateral organisations, think tanks and prestigious universities.

Many graduates return to their previous jobs while others embark on new careers after the course. Examples of organisations where recent graduates are employed include:

  • Asian Development Bank
  • Christian Aid (UK and West Africa)
  • EMBARQ India - The WRI Centre for Sustainable Transport
  • Entremundos, Guatemala
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • Heifer International
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
  • International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • Medical Research Council HIV/AIDS Programme (Uganda)
  • Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
  • Save The Children
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
  • United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
  • World Vision
  • International consultancy firms such as OCO Global, Halcrow (UK) and PADECO (Japan)

Some graduates also pursue advanced research degrees (e.g. PhDs), while several work as academics in reputed universities or as independent consultants.