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MSc Housing and City Planning


Shelter is one of the most basic human needs, but the provision of that shelter - i.e. the development of enough housing of the right type and quality, in the most appropriate locations - is a challenge that few, if any, governments in the developed world have fully addressed. Planning systems do not always direct new housing to the right places; and the old housing that societies inherit - or even the new housing that is being built - is only very rarely as good as it could be. The quality of housing development needs to be judged against several key benchmarks. It needs to be part of the solution to the environmental challenges that all societies face - it must contribute to a sustainable future; it needs to be delivered in a way that contributes to achieving social justice - it must be accessible and affordable; and it needs to satisfy basic human requirements - it must have the potential to function as a home.

Programme Objectives

The MSc Housing and City Planning brings together three critical perspectives - in three linked streams - on the housing question, examining how planning policy and practice contributes to the wider environment for development; how housing development is financed and managed; and how new housing may have a lighter environmental footprint, and older housing retrofitted to lessen its impact:

  • Planning for Housing: examines the role and nature of planning through application to housing development. In this stream the potential and shortcomings of planning in delivering development will be explored, initially through a wide-ranging overview of the sector, and subsequently through engagement in a live project;
  • Sustainability and Design: examines the sustainability of homes themselves and housing within its broader design / built environment context. The first half of this stream deals with sustainability in new-build housing, extending to a consideration of sustainable neighbourhoods and cities, linking therefore to the planning for housing core theme. The second half deals with low energy housing retrofit, recognising that it is existing homes and buildings that have the greatest capacity to contribute to future energy use and carbon reductions;
  • Development Economics and Project Delivery: concerned in its first part with the financing and economics of speculative development (as a central plank of housing delivery), and in the second half with the management of the delivery process.

The programme examines development from multiple perspectives: examining its regulatory context; seeing it as a project, large or small, to be financed and managed; and viewing it also as an opportunity to contribute to broader environmental and social goals through good design. It aims to provide a rounded perspective on housing development, imparting a critical understanding from planning, design and project-management perspectives. It delivers critical understanding and a range of key skills. Graduates from the programme will have demonstrated their ability to work within the regulatory context, developing realistic proposals for housing development that are feasible in terms of policy compliance and financing. They will also have an in-depth understanding of housing design and retrofit and will be able to relate these to the management and financing of projects.

The programme is directed to urban professionals and graduates from the fields of planning, property, architecture and project management who are looking to specialise in the area of housing development.


The MSc Housing and City Planning is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and has specialist accreditation from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as the final-year of study in a 3+1 integrated route.

Further information on accreditation and routes to membership can be obtained from these bodies.

Contact details

Programme Director: Professor Nick Gallent

Admissions Tutor: Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin

Programme Administrator: Naomi Jones


The diagram shows the structure of the 1 year full time MSc programme. The programme can also be taken flexibly over 2 to 5 years in which case students would normally complete the modules marked P1 before progressing to the P2 modules.

Students seeking RICS accreditation must complete the following two 'options':

Option A: Spatial Planning (15 credits)

Option B: Critical Debates in Planning (15 credits)

Students not seeking RICS accreditation must agree an appropriate pair of optional modules (from all 'open' modules offered within the Faculty of the Built Environment) with the Programme Director.

Students who enrol for a Diploma must pass all the taught modules (120 credits) but are not required to complete a dissertation.

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

Term 1
Planning for Housing Planning for Housing: Process - 15 credits (P1)
Sustainability and Design Sustainable Housing Design: Principles - 15 credits (P1)
Economics and Delivery Economics and finance of housing projects - 15 credits (P1)
Options Option A - 15 credits (P1)

Term 2
Planning for Housing Planning for Housing: Project - 15 credits (P1)
Sustainability and Design Low Energy Housing Retrofit - 15 credits (P1)
Economics and Delivery Management of Housing Projects - 15 credits (P1)
Options Option B - 15 credits (P1)

Term 3
Planning Research Techniques Research methods workshop (P2)
Exams Exams

Dissertation in Planning - 60 credits (P2)

Compulsory Modules

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

BENVGPLE Planning for Housing: Process
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 1

BENVGPLF Planning for Housing: Project
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 2

BENVGEEH Sustainable Housing Design: Principles
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 1

BENVGEEE Low Energy Housing Retrofit
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 2

BENVGHD1 Economics and Finance of Housing Projects
Credits: 15
Assessment: Unseen Exam
Term: 1

BENVGHD2 Management of Housing Projects
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 1


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

BENVGPL7 Dissertation in Planning
Credits: 60
Assessment: Dissertation
Term 3 and summer

Planning Research Support Module
Credits: 0
Assessment: None (attendance only)
Term 3

Elective Modules (for students seeking RICS accreditation)

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

BENVGPL5 Spatial Planning: Concepts and Context 
Credits: 15
Assessment: Examination
Term: 1

BENVGHD3 Critical Debates in Housing Development
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term: 2

Students not seeking RICS accreditation are free to take any elective modules from across the Faculty, with the consent of module coordinators. But it is important that the choice of elective modules is made in consultation with the Programme Director for the MSc Housing and City Planning.


Compulsory Modules

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

BENVGPLE Planning for Housing: Process (15 credits) – begins by looking at the drivers of residential development including the demographics of growth. It considers who provides housing and the evolution of the UK policy context and its current objectives. The component then looks at the residential development process from strategic and development planning and land acquisition to development viability. The lecture programme is divided into 3 parts: concerned firstly with broad perspectives on housing growth, policy and planning; secondly with housing providers, processes and delivery; and thirdly with critical debates and outcomes today. 

BENVGPLF Planning for Housing: Project (15 credits) – challenges students to apply and extend their knowledge of development drivers, actors and practices in to real life housing development opportunities in London. Via small group organisation, students will co-ordinate the completion of a comprehensive feasibility study and housing development brief for a specific site. Groups will be allocated strategic mandates reflecting the current policy contexts and objectives explored in Planning for Housing: Process and will then plan, design and initiate the implementation of a development scheme from a selected development actor perspective, reflecting tenure, design and organisational intentions. Schemes will be collectively proposed and managed and then presented by each team to an audience of peers, staff and relevant experts in the field. 

BENVGEEH Sustainable Housing Design: Principles (15 credits) - The aim of the module is to introduce students to the latest techniques, and research on how to design, build and operate sustainable housing throughout the world. The module will equip students with a rounded background in the principles of sustainable housing design and will focus on producing new, sustainable housing in different climates. Students will consider what sustainability means, how different climates affect designs and also how to overcome barriers that prevent schemes from becoming successful. The module is self contained and be suitable for students from other faculties who need to have a strong theoretical background in this area, and especially for the MSc Housing and City Planning.

BENVGEEE Low Energy Housing Retrofit (15 credits) - This module provides a detailed understanding of the key issues surrounding the retrofitting of existing homes with insulation and systems to reduce energy consumption. The module tutors use the Passive House Planning Project (PHPP) as a framework for assessing case study retrofits, with site visits where practicable. The module follows on from the Sustainable Housing Design module, which introduces non-architects to design practices which are re-examined, and critiqued, in this module. 

BENVGHD2 The Economics and Finance of Housing Development (15 credits) - The aim of this module is to introduce students to key concepts in economics, finance and the valuation of property which are most relevant to Housing Projects. Students will learn the basics of investment appraisal, the financial structure of firms and the economics of housing markets. They will also be introduced to the economic context of and institutions involved in housing.

BENVGHD1 Management of Housing Projects (15 credits) - The aim of this module is to introduce students not only to the usual tools and techniques of project management but also to a more holistic approach to the subject. This stresses the importance of the front end of the project as well as the critical nature of managing relationships between people and organizations in good project management. This approach also emphasizes the relationship between the project and the strategic objectives of the client organization. The module will illustrate these issues with examples from housing development projects and consider how the wider issues of sustainability can be properly integrated into project decision making processes.

Dissertation Modules

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

BENVGPL3 Planning Research Techniques (0 credit dissertation/project support module) – provides an understanding of the way in which successful research is undertaken. It introduces a range of methods employed in both qualitative and quantitative analysis and assists students in the development of skills that are required to produce a self-contained piece of original research. More specifically, this course offers and introduction to the skills required when producing a dissertation or major project.

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 is a 10,000 word dissertation.

Elective Modules (for students seeking RICS accreditation)

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

Option A (For RICS Accreditation: BENVGPL5 Spatial Planning (15 credits) – examines the evolution of the planning system in the UK at various scales; the current rules, regulations and procedures governing plan-making processes and development control decisions, including the impact of European Community interventions; and areas of planning law relevant to practice.

Option B (For RICS Accreditation: BENVGTC9 Critical Debates in Planning (15 credits) – provides students with an opportunity for in-depth reading, critical reflection and discussion around key planning themes and debates connected with Planning. This module is based on active small group seminar discussion. Reading material is structured around key themes relating to the core modules of the programme. The aim is to enable students to develop a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories of planning, and to form an integrated view of planning in relation to its key areas of knowledge.

Field Trip

The MSc programme includes an integral field trip aimed at giving students the opportunity to observe examples of good (and bad) practice in housing development and housing design. Field trips involve students being introduced to development projects by local experts, drawn from academia, local government, private enterprise or local politics. The destination of the MSc Housing and City Planning field trip is to be confirmed.


Programme Director:

Professor Nick Gallent
Professor of Housing and Planning

View Nick's profile
Send Nick an email

Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Professor Nick Gallent
Professor of Housing and Planning

View Nick's profile
Send Nick an email

Dr Ben Croxford
View Ben's profile
Send Ben an email


Housing and City Planning MSc

Key Information

Modes and duration
  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time: 2 years
  • Flexible: up to 5 years
Programme start date
September 2016
Tuition Fees (2016/17)
£11,125 (FT)
£20,700 (FT)
Application deadlines
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 29 July 2016
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 2 September 2016
Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma with fees set accordingly.
Fees note: Fees for part-time study are charged at approximately half the full-time Master's fee. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. The tuition fee schedule for 2016/17 entry can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.


Entry Requirements

Preferably an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree (or higher) from a UK university. Overseas qualifications of an equivalent standard will also be considered. Admissions tutors may, at their discretion, consider applications from students who have not achieved this but hold professional qualifications (e.g. RTPI) or can demonstrate substantial work experience in the field of housing development, planning for housing, or housing design. (Applicants will still be expected to meet the minimum UCL requirement of a 2:2, however.)

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

How to apply

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

This programme is directed at urban professionals and graduates from the fields of planning, property, architecture and project management from around the world who are wishing to train as planners, or develop perspectives on residential development from construction management angles, and specialise in the area of housing development.

Application deadlines
29 July 2016
2 September 2016

International students who require a Tier 4 visa are strongly advised to submit their application before 15 June 2015.

What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of Housing and City Planning
  • why you want to study Housing Development at graduate level
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree and how this programme meets these needs
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

When to Apply

The UCL admissions procedure for all applications for postgraduate programmes (including MArch, MRes, MA, MSc and Postgraduate Diploma) normally takes between 4 and 12 weeks. Generally, applications are considered and decisions on offers of admission are arrived at in the order that applications are received. Therefore, applicants are advised to apply earlier rather than later.

If you have not yet met the academic or English language proficiency requirements then you can still apply. But if you are made an offer of a place, then it will be conditional on you meeting these requirements before the start of the academic year. 

If you require a visa to study in the UK, documentation to assist in your visa application cannot be produced until an unconditional offer of admission is made. A conditional offer will delay your Tier 4 visa application, so you should try and obtain your English certification and provide evidence of meeting any academic condition as early as possible. International applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK should also take into account that, as well as the time required to complete the UCL admissions procedure, obtaining entry clearance to the UK takes an additional amount of time. Therefore if you require a Tier 4 visa you are strongly advised to make your application to study at UCL before 15th June in the year in which you wish to study. 


Graduate students from the Bartlett have been very successful in gaining subsequent employment. At present there is a growing demand for our Master’s graduates from a wide range of both public and private employers in the UK and overseas. Many graduates have taken up posts in local and central government planning; others have moved into planning related consultancies. Past students have found employment in numerous specialist sectors: in housing and transport; planning, urban regeneration and environmental agencies; public and private utility companies; and also in teaching and research. As well as preparing students for careers in planning practice and housing delivery, all of our programmes offer an introduction to research and to key research skills. These skills are developed and tested through completion of a dissertation, which demonstrates the graduate's capacity for independent thinking and working.