The central concern of the MSc Urban Economic Development at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) is to identify methods of enhancing urban productivity while promoting sustainability and equity through public intervention at the city level.
Urbanisation, globalisation and climate change are transforming the development agenda. Within the next two decades, more people will be living in urban areas than in the countryside in nearly every country in the world.
Cities are much more than human habitats; they are crucial and advanced components of the national and global economy, acting as engines of economic growth and structural transformation. The city represents a crucial battlefield for societies to meet the challenges of sustainable development, especially the eradication of poverty and the creation of a new low-carbon economy. Unfortunately, many cities fail to rise to these challenges. Signs of urban decay and poverty are commonplace, even in the most developed parts of the world.
Policy makers and researchers are only just starting to recognise that many social and environmental problems have their roots in economic failures and structural weaknesses. However, such problems can not be effectively addressed without economic restructuring and appropriate economic policies. Crucially, this would require professionally trained people who understand the dynamics of the city economy and are equipped to tackle these challenges through effective policy formulation and implementation. This course is designed to train and supply such people.
Through a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies and field work relating to cities around the world, the programme endeavours to impart a critical understanding of the economics governing urban development, enabling students to appreciate and assess the contexts within which a city economy operates.
In order to strengthen participants' analytical skills, the course also provides training in the critical assessment and use of micro- and macro-economic data, the analysis of urban economic activity, and the application of economic criteria to urban development.
Programme Director: Le-Yin Zhang
Programme Co-Director: Naji Makarem
Graduate Teaching Assistant: Nina Neubauer
The MSc Urban Economic Development is structured so that 75 per cent of the taught components (90 credits) is devoted to the core subjects of economics in urban development and managing the city economy, 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 modules allow students to examine different approaches and issues in accordance with their own particular interests.
The course is delivered through lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies and field trips, and involves reading, essay writing and individual and group project work. Student performance is assessed through course work, examinations, and an individual dissertation report undertaken during the summer on a topic selected by the student.
The programme involves field work abroad (undertaken in recent years in Mek'ele, Ethiopia; Mbarara, Uganda; Barcelona, Spain; Cairo, Egypt; and Accra, Ghana), as well as in the UK, allowing students to put into practice some of the tools and techniques acquired during the course.
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.
BENVGUE3 Practice in Urban Economic Development exposes students to contrasting practices of urban economic development to enable them to gain a better understanding of the process of managing local economic development in an urban context.
BENVGUE4 Urbanisation and Development addresses the prospect for development in a context of international trade and investment, with the role of the state and effects of policies as key underlying factors.
BENVGUE5 Cost Benefit Analysis: Theory and Practice covers the economic assessment of projects and policies using cost-benefit analysis techniques, furthermore the evaluation of trends and developments and other issues relevant to urban economic policies will be explored.
BENVGUE6 An Introduction to Public Economics and Public Policy deals with identifying the most common market failures, the drivers of government failures and the interactions between economics and politics as constraints on the design of public policies.
Optional modules offered by other Masters in the DPU
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.
BENVGSD4 NGOs and Social Transformation focuses on the practice and politics of development NGOs. It explores how different NGOs are able to represent and be accountable to the beneficiaries of their projects and transform unequal power relations.
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.
BENVGBU2 Participatory Processes: Building for Development introduces the theories and concepts of participatory approaches and the processes in development and practice. It questions the nature and limits of participation and participatory design while engaging with case studies of collective and critical urban and spatial practices.
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.
BENVGBU7 Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives provides a detailed and critical examination of post-disaster recovery practices and policies, with a particular focus on its institutional arrangements and socio-spatial implications. Drawing from transnational research experiences and connections with practitioners, humanitarian workers and development managers, the module reflects on the different challenges posed when working in a post disaster environment and implementing plans, projects and interventions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BENVGDA6- Society and Market: Private Agency for Developmentexplores 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.
The MSc UED 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 urban economic analysis in the context of city planning and urban management.
View Le-Yin's profile
Dr Naji Makarem
View Naji's profile
Graduate Teaching Assistant
View Nina's profile
Staff currently teaching on the programme
Dr Robinson Rojas
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Prof. Antonio Estache
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Dr José Carbajo
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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 MSc UED is widely recognised by international organisations and outfits, including UN agencies and the World Bank; bilateral aid organisations from different countries, including the UK's Department for International Development, as well as other government aid programmes; and by many national organisations.
The UED programme is a core course at the Development Planning Unit and alumni benefit from the international respect enjoyed by DPU thanks to its expertise in and contribution to urban development and action planning.
There is enormous variety in the careers UED graduates pursue, ranging from working with UK-based organisations in the public, private and community sectors that focus on local as well as international development, to employment with governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations operating in a development capacity in the South.
There is also diversity in the geographic location of UED alumni: some return to their home countries with the additional MSc qualification and engage in the practice, teaching or research of urban development there; others find employment in development organisations (from grassroots to multilateral tiers) away from their own countries.
DPU boasts a global network of alumni spread across many continents, countries and organisations, often facilitating that essential first introduction of a UED graduate into employment.