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MPhil/PhD Planning Studies


The MPhil/PhD in Planning Studies is designed for graduates of any discipline who wish to make a career in planning (for example in central and local government, private consultancy, voluntary bodies) or in related fields (such as housing, urban regeneration, transport planning, urban design), in teaching or research.

About the course

A PhD is awarded for the most advanced level of study available. It shows the ability to devise and carry out a programme of research with originality and critical judgement.

The final product is a thesis of 100,000 words, and an oral examination of the thesis.

More information

To find out more, please contact:

For queries relating to administrative details of applications (e.g. submission of forms, eligibility, fees, language requirements) please contact: Dr Steve Ridge (+44 (0) 20 3108 9854)


In common with a number of other UK Universities, UCL does not admit students directly onto a PhD programme in the first instance, but requires all research students to first enrol for an MPhil degree.

After having completed the first year, the majority of students do not complete the MPhil and instead go through a process of transferring (upgrading) to the PhD programme.

Providing satisfactory progress has been made in the first year, the transfer of registration from MPhil to PhD is usually approved. The normal time allocated for doing this MPhil/PhD programme is three years full time and five years part time.

Activities and Events for Research Students

There are many regular seminar series held at the Bartlett School of Planning which are open to all research students (see BSP seminar series; the London Planning seminar series; the Omega Centre seminars; and the China Planning Research Group seminars).

In addition, there are a number of initiatives instigated by, or run especially for, research students. Details of these activities for research students can be found on our website. All this contributes to a lively research environment in the Bartlett School of Planning.

Current Research Students

Details of current (and past) research students and their areas of research can be found here.


Prospective applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposed research with a potential supervisor before submitting their formal application. Details of academic members of staff with links to their profile and research interests.


If you are interested in doing a PhD at the Bartlett School of Planning, you must submit a formal application to UCL which should include a research proposal (maximum 2,000 words) outlining:

  • The subject of your proposed research,
  • The questions you hope to answer, 
  • Why you think this knowledge will be of value, 
  • Your intended method and the sources you will use. 

Additionally, the admissions procedure takes account of things like your general educational background and academic ability, and references. 

How to Apply

Information about how to apply for MPhil/PhD studies can be found on the Bartlett Faculty admissions page.

Before You Apply

Before applying formally, we encourage prospective applicants to discuss their research with potential supervisors. This is an important process, as finding the right supervisor for your research is a significant aspect of being accepted to do a PhD.

While there is no commitment at this stage, a potential supervisor could help clarify your research ideas and advise on preparing your research proposal. 

When contacting potential supervisors, we recommend that you supply a short (1-2 page) summary of your research idea (including title, specific research question(s), indicative method and any key references) - this might be in the body of an email - and a short (1-2 page) CV.  

Details of academic staff and their research interests can be found here.

Current and recent PhD students/topics can be found here.

Please note that, while it is not essential to nominate a potential supervisor(s) on your application form, it may help to speed up your application process. It will also help if you clearly indicate the school and PhD programme to which you are intending to apply (i.e. in our case, the Bartlett School of Planning / MPhil/PhD in Planning Studies).


Please contact potential supervisors directly for detailed questions about your particular research topic or research proposal. 

The MPhil/PhD Programme Director can help to put you in touch with potential supervisors if you are unable to identify a suitable member of staff yourself. 

For all questions regarding the application procedure, eligibility (including language proficiency), part-time and remote study, fees, timescale, obtaining referees, please contact the Graduate Faculty Clerk:

Dr Steve Ridge
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3108 9002

Funding and Scholarships

Details of scholarships and other sources of funding available to students can be found here.

Please direct all queries regarding scholarships to scholarships@ucl.ac.uk


Students completing a research degree have been very successful in gaining subsequent employment. Graduates are expected to take jobs with a wide variety of public and private employers in the UK and abroad, including:

  • universities
  • research institutes
  • consultants
  • government organisations

Postgraduate Teaching Assistants

Bartlett PGTAs

The Bartlett is committed to offering teaching experience to its research students through a postgraduate teaching assistant (PGTA) programme. For the 2014–2015 academic session the faculty has funded a number of posts spread across The Bartlett, this is on top of posts already funded at the school level.

Learn more about the current Bartlett PGTAs.