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MSc Transport & City Planning

Overview

The MSc in Transport and City Planning is a one-year full-time or two- to five-year modular/flexible programme. It draws on the latest thinking and debates in transport and urban planning, providing an interdisciplinary consideration of transport planning as part of the development of the sustainable city. Transport is often seen as the ‘maker and breaker’ of cities, yet few, if any, governments in the developed and developing world have managed to build transport systems that support attractive city living, both in the urban core and suburban edge. The quality of transport systems needs to be judged against several benchmarks – as part of the solution to the environmental challenges that society faces; as a catalyst to the economy, well-being and quality of life; and delivered in a way that contributes to social justice. These are huge challenges for our future transport and city planners.

This MSc provides a ground-breaking and critical perspective on transport planning, with an urban and international focus, recognising that more than half of humankind lives in urban areas. There are close linkages and shared modules with two existing Bartlett School of Planning (BSP) courses: the MSc in Sustainable Urbanism and MSc in Mega Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Delivery. Students will also have the opportunity to take modules or lectures from the Centre for Transport Studies (CTS), Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) and Development Planning Unit (DPU), developing your own specific interests and disciplinary perspectives, but all within the theme of transport planning and travel behaviours in support of the sustainable city. The course is designed for candidates who wish to work across disciplines and at the strategic levels, and also those who wish to specialise in particular areas.

Programme Objectives

The aim of the MSc in Transport and City Planning is to equip students to work effectively as transport and planning practitioners in urban contexts, beyond the ‘disciplinary silos’ usually found in academia and practice. A key feature of the MSc is its integrative design across disciplines, providing perspectives from the core disciplines without being rooted in any one. Students would have the opportunity, and would be encouraged, to anchor their studies in a core discipline. Core themes (double modules) are as follows:

  • Urban Transport Planning: examines the role and nature of transport planning as part of the delivery of sustainable cities internationally. The context and rationale for transport is explored, including the policy context and drivers, concepts of sustainability, urban structure and travel, policy and strategy development, infrastructure and travel demand management, psychological and sociological dimensions to mobilities, transport futures and scenario analysis, and institutional arrangements.
  • Sustainable Cities: draws on two key modules from the MSc in Sustainable Urbanism, introducing some of the key sustainability debates and literature, developing an understanding of the tensions and synergies between environmental, social and economic objectives, provides a cross-sectoral evaluation of how this manifests in practice, and a critical understanding of the theory underpinning city planning.
  • Investing in Mega Projects: draws on two key modules from the MSc in Mega Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Delivery (MIPAD), providing a critical review of mega infrastructure theory and international practice. Modules: (1) Mega Infrastructures as Agents of Change; and (2) Critical Issues in Mega Infrastructure Investments.

Beyond these core studies, students would take two more modules as electives from across the Faculty and wider within UCL. These could support the different key perspectives in transport planning (selected module(s) from the CTS); urban planning (selected module(s) from BSP); advanced spatial analysis (CASA); or international development (DPU), or variants in between. A free-ranging elective would also allow choice of one module from wider disciplines throughout UCL. This approach provides an excellent interdisciplinary grounding and also offers some specialisation so that students can develop a stronger emphasis in a particular field.

The programme is directed at candidates who wish to work across disciplines and at the strategic levels; with transport planning or engineering graduates or specialists who see their future work as part of the design of sustainable cities; planning or geography graduates wishing to specialise in transport planning, but who would like to ground this in a broad interdisciplinary perspective relative to transport, planning and the delivery of the sustainable city; and also graduates wishing to enter either of the transport planning or urban planning professions (e.g. in consultancy, central government, metropolitan authorities, local authorities, international investment banks, and lobby groups).

Accreditation

The course is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a specialist programme (3+1). Candidates would be eligible to apply for the Transport Planning Professional (TPP) qualification, the professional qualification for transport planners run by the Transport Planning Society and Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) or related organisations, on subscription.

Contact details

Programme Director and Admissions Tutor: Dr Robin Hickman

Programme Administrator: Andy Heath

Structure

The diagram below shows the structure of the one-year full-time MSc programme. If the programme is taken flexibly over two to five years, students would normally complete the modules marked T1 before moving on to the modules marked T2.

Further details of these modules can be found on our post-graduate modules page

Term 1

Urban Transport Planning

BENVGTP1 Transport Planning and the City - 15 credits (T1)

Urban Transport Planning

BENVGTC5 Sustainable Urban Development: Key Themes - 15 credits (T1)

Urban Transport Planning

BENVGMP1 Mega Infrastructures as Agents of Change - 15 credits (T1)
Options

Elective A Any approved module across Faculty and CTS - 15 credits (T1)

Term 2
Urban Transport Planning

BENVGTP2 Transport Planning in Emerging Cities

 - 15 credits (T2) (EXAMS)

Urban Transport Planning

BENVGTC7 Sustainable Urban Development Project

 - 15 credits (T2)

Urban Transport Planning BENVGMP4 Critical Issues in Mega Infrastructure Investments  - 15 credits (T2)
Options

Elective B Any module across Faculty, CTS and UCL

 - 15 credits (T2)

Term 3
Planning Research Techniques

BENVGPL3 Planning Research Techniques (0 credits)

Exams Exams
Summer
Dissertation
Dissertation in Planning - 60 credits

Students will be required to produce a 10,000 word (60 credit) dissertation on a topic of their choice, and will follow a dissertation 'support module' at the BSP during Term 3. Their choice of supervisors will feasibly extend across the Faculty and potentially CTS, but most likely be from the BSP. Module Two will be examined.

The MSc in Transport and City Planning comprises 120 credits of taught modules, including two elective modules and a group project, and a dissertation carrying 60 credits. Students are required to take and pass 180 credits for the MSc (and 120 credits for the related postgraduate diploma).

Field trip

A week's field visit to selected best practice case study developments in Europe will enable students to explore the way that different contexts – including cultural, political and institutional – frame transport and city planning. This event will be informed by talks from key experts.

Content

Further details of these modules can be found on our post-graduate modules page.

Compulsory Modules

BENVGTP1 Transport Planning and the City (15 credits): examines the role and nature of transport planning as part of the delivery of sustainable cities. The context and rationale for transport is explored, including the policy context and drivers, concepts of sustainability, urban structure and travel, policy and strategy development, infrastructure and travel demand management, low emission vehicles, psychological and sociological dimensions to mobilities, transport futures and scenario analysis, and institutional arrangements.

BENVGTP2 Transport Planning in Emerging Cities (15 credits): explores the practice of transport planning internationally, particularly in Asia and South America. It examines changing paradigms in transport, the development of high speed rail in China, bus rapid transit systems in South America and Asia, public transit orientated development (TOD), emerging modes of transport, new fuel technologies, paratransit, walking and cycling, investment bank appraisal methodologies, and the role of transport in city development and sustainability.

BENVGTC5 Sustainable Urban Development, Key Themes (15 credits): introduces some of the key sustainability debates and literature. It broadens students' understanding of the tensions and synergies between environmental, social and economic objectives. It provides a cross-sectoral evaluation of how this manifests in practice, drawing on a range of international case studies; and provides a sound theoretical basis from which students can conduct the sustainable urban development and transport project.

BENVGTC7 Sustainable Urban Development and Transport Project (15 credits): has an integrating function as it brings together some of the key contextual and specialist material presented in the earlier modules. The aim of the project is to investigate and develop a macro-scale masterplan, with developmental and transport aspects, and to analyse the strengths and weaknesses in terms of contributing to the goal of urban sustainability. There is an emphasis on group investigation and tram work as well as individual initiative.

BENVGMP1 Mega Infrastructures as Agents of Change (15 credits): defines the overarching characteristics of mega infrastructure projects, programmes and plans and examines their roles as agents of change. It encompasses the understanding of past perspectives of the roles of mega infrastructure and the investigation of 21st-century perspectives, where the global interdependency of economic growth and environmental impacts appears stronger than ever before, and where sustainability looms large as a key challenge for future generations.

BENVGMP4 Critical Debates in Mega Infrastructure Investments (15 credits): focuses on critical issues in mega infrastructure development across all sectors in both the developed and developing world. It will be founded on topics such as the role of public and private partnerships (PPPs) in the investment of such infrastructure, drawn from independent reading as a basis for critical reflection. Led by a facilitator, this module comprises an introductory lecture and seminar contributions by experienced practitioners in mega infrastructure development, followed by student presentations on these same themes.

Dissertation Modules

BENVGPL3 Planning Research Techniques (0 credit dissertation/project support module) is a support module for the MSc Dissertation. It exposes students to the research process and to appropriate data collection methods for planning research. Students are also supported through this module in the early stages of planning their individual research, and assisted with the development of appropriate research methods.

BENVGPL7 Dissertation (60 credits) – gives the student an opportunity for supported, independent study. The student (in conjunction with their tutor) will identify a topic/problem/question that they wish to study in greater depth. Over the designated period the student will pursue this topic through independent study (reading, data collection, site visits etc.) supported by regular meetings with their tutor. Output from the project may either be a 10,000 word dissertation or project work equivalent.

Elective Modules

Further details of these modules can be found on our post-graduate modules page.

Beyond these core studies, students take two more modules as electives from across the Faculty and wider within UCL. These would include selected module(s) in transport planning from the CTS, planning from the BSP; advanced spatial analysis from CASA; or international development from the DPU. A free-ranging elective would also allow choice of one module from wider disciplines throughout UCL.

Staff

Programme Director:

Dr Robin Hickman
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Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Dr Jo Williams
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Dr Catalina Turcu
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Dr Stephen Marshall
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Iqbal Hamiduddin
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Professor Harry Dimitriou
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Dr Philip Wright
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Professor Sir Peter Hall
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Applying

Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships

For information, please see the faculty admissions information here

Alongside UCL postgraduate scholarships programmes, the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund MSc transport bursaries programme is also available. Applications are sought by early June each year and awards are made in July (up to nine awards at £10,000 each). These are highly competitive, with applications from many MSc Transport programmes across the UK, and will only go to the best candidates. Overseas students are not precluded, but to meet the RJRF charitable objectives, there should be evidence that the applicant intends to remain for a reasonable period working in the UK. Applicants do not apply directly for this award, but are nominated by the BSP. Dr Robin Hickman will put forward two or three of the best applicants to the MSc T&CP programme where candidates are keen and suitable. Please let Robin Hickman know if you wish to be considered.

Opportunities

Graduate students from the Bartlett School of Planning have been very successful in gaining subsequent employment. There is growing demand for our Masters' graduates from a wide range of both public and private employers. While the main source of employment remains in planning and transport-related consultancy, and in local government and central government, graduates are also employed in the following areas:

  • transport, planning, urban regeneration and environmental agencies
  • international funding institutions (European investment Bank, Asian Development Bank)
  • third sector and lobby groups
  • public and private utility companies
  • teaching and research