The MSc Environment and Sustainable Development course at the Bartlett's Development Planning Unit (DPU) reflects the increasing recognition that environmental concerns are closely linked to the way development theory and practice are conceived and applied. In this context, the concept of sustainable development (SD) has rapidly emerged as an approach similarly advocated and criticised by local and international organisations, broadly described as an envisioning strategy to save the earth for future generations.
A central concern of the course is to equip participants with a critical understanding of the SD theoretical debate and practice, unveiling the political, social and economic forces underlying environmental conflicts and exploring concrete approaches to address their causes. The course adopts an international comparative perspective, exploring the specific conditions for intervention in different contexts from all over the world.
The programme looks at conventional approaches in development planning, and the environmental conflicts generated by them, with specific reference to developing countries. It contrasts these approaches with the need for long-term environmental sustainability and social justice and examines concrete attempts to incorporate a deeper awareness of these goals into development policy making, planning and management.
By critically examining the theory and practice of environment and sustainable development at the international, national and urban levels in a variety of contexts, the programme seeks to provide participants with an understanding of the processes generating social and environmental change and with the skills and abilities to respond to such changes.
The course retains the DPU's long-standing preoccupation with planning for action. Its approach is critical, analytical and comparative so that it leads to discovery and exploration by participants.
Graduate Teaching Assistant: Diana Salazar
The course is structured so that 75 per cent of the taught components of the course (90 credits) is devoted to the core subjects of the environment and sustainable development and 25 per cent (30 credits) to an option from a range of modules on offer. The core course modules provide the theoretical and methodological components of the course while the specialist module allows students to examine different approaches and problems in accordance with their own particular interests. Core modules include: ‘The Political Ecology of Environmental Change’, ‘Urban Environmental Planning and Management in Development’ and ‘Environment and Sustainable Development in Practice’ (30 credits each).
The course consists of reading, essay writing, and individual and group project work delivered through lectures, seminars, workshops, case study analysis, and field trips in the UK and abroad. Student performance is assessed through course work, examinations and a final dissertation report.
BENVGES1 The Political Ecology of Environmental Change starts by providing a comprehensive review and critical analysis of the contemporary debate on development and environmental sustainability.
BENVGES2 Urban Environmental Planning and Management in Development surveys environmental problems in urban areas and their underlying causes and identifies who contributes most to such problems and who is most affected by them.
BENVGES3 Environment and Sustainable Development in Practice creates an opportunity for students to be exposed to a set of exciting real-life planned interventions in the field of urban and regional environmental planning and management (EPM).
Optional modules offered by ESD
BENVGES5 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.
BENVGES6 Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development examines the different ways in which urbanisation is unfolding across the global South, with specific attention to the creation of infrastructures and the delivery of essential services. It explores the underlying causes of urban fragmentation, social exclusion and unsustainability.
BENVGES7 Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics focuses on the challenges of and opportunities for the adequate provision of urban water supply and sanitation. It examines innovative 'policy-driven' and 'needs-driven' approaches to the provision of the services, for and with the urban and peri-urban poor.
BENVGES8 Food and the City looks at urban food security with long-term sustainability and resilience in face of crisis and extreme weather.
BENVGES9 Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture: Knowledge Systems in the Global South provides a critical examination of the historical evolution and the negative impact of industrial agriculture and its consequences for small holder urban and peri-urban food production and knowledge systems in the Global South.
Optional modules offered by other Masters in the DPU
BENVGBU8 Critical Urbanism Studio I - Learning from Informality: Case Studies and Alternatives will suit students 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. It focuses on how informal urban territories are constituted and imagined, and engages with a vast variety of urban materiality as a way to learn from existing experiences and reflect on design strategies that are able to deal with the complexities of the urban project.
BENVGBU9 Critical Urbanism Studio II - Investigative Design Strategies for Contested Spaces is the second Critical Urbanism Studio module. It 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. The module evolves around a real-life contemporary urban case study developed in collaboration with a partner in the Global South. It offers the platform to reason on a new aesthetics of informality and experiment with design research and strategies that reflect on the design process as act of critique, resistance, balance, while putting the poor at the centre of it.
BENVGBU6 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. It engages with extreme condition of disasters and their social, physical and political implications on urban areas, the built environment and planning disciplines. Drawing from current research on the urban turn in Disaster Studies and the entanglements between Disaster Risk Reduction, Development processes and Urban Poverty, the module offers an introduction to the debate on urban resilience and its policy implications.
BENVGPU4 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.
BENVGBU1 Transforming Local Areas: Urban Design for Development provides a structured understanding of the forces that form and transform cities – particularly in countries of the global south – as well as the intellectual and theoretical bases for a recalibration of urban design praxis. Students have also the occasion to touch ground through a London-based urban design exercise, in partnership with a relevant stakeholder. The module engages with critical transformative literature and specifically with alternative design approaches connected with literature of renewed philosophical and critical studies.
BENVGPU1 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.
BENVGPU2 Urban Development Policy, Planning and Management: Strategic Action in Theory and Practice explores strategic action in urban development policy, planning and management which recognises social justice in cities.
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.
BENVGUE2 Managing the City Economy enables participants to develop a critical understanding of the key components and operating dynamics of the city economy, and the factors that underlie urban productivity.
BENVGSD1 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.
BENVGSD2 Social Diversity, Inequality and Poverty argues that social development is no longer confined to the 'social sector', but is increasingly defined more broadly as an approach that attempts to put 'people' and social equity at the centre of development initiatives across all sectors.
The MSc ESD is taught by DPU staff and associate teaching fellows held in high esteem among their international peers for their contribution to academic thinking and development practice. Every year the course is evolving, as new ideas are discussed and established conventions challenged. Please follow the links below to learn more about our staff and associates.
Dr Vanesa Castan Broto
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Dr Liza Griffin
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Graduate Teaching Assistant
View Diana's profile
Staff currently teaching on the programme include:
Prof. Adriana Allen
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View Robert's profile
View David's profile
View Pascale's profile
View Rita's profile
View David's profile
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.
The course attracts participants from a wide variety of disciplines, including anthropologists, economists, geographers and natural scientists, as well as planners, architects and engineers.
Since its inception in 1997, over 350 students have successfully completed the ESD course. Many are engaged in professional activities, from local and national government, consultancy firms and national and international NGOs, to United Nations programmes and international aid agencies the world over.
ESD graduates work in a wide variety of sectors both in the UK and overseas, with many alumni returning to work in their home countries. Examples include:
- Public sector: National Ministries, such as DEFRA and DfID (UK), Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka, Brazil’s Ministerio das Cidades and many other national and local government organisations
- International Agencies and NGOs: UNEP, UNDP, UN-Habitat, JICA, GIZ (former GTZ), InsightShare, Save the Children, WWF, the Gold Standard Foundation
- Think Tanks, academic and research organisations such as: IIED, UCL, University of Sao Paulo, Fabian Society, Stockholm Environment Institute, Resources for Development Center, WaterWise and The Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport.
- Private companies, such as: Happold Consulting, EcoSecurities, British Petroleum, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Dialogue By Design and BioRegional Quintain.