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MSc/Dip International Planning


The MSc International Planning is intended for students who want an international perspective on planning systems and cultures or are likely to work outside the UK after their studies. It aims to:

  • give students a critical appreciation of the commonalities and differences among a variety of national planning approaches and systems
  • enhance understanding of planning as a culturally specific, context dependent activity which takes different forms in different countries and regions of the world
  • raise awareness of the impacts of processes of globalisation on planning, and of patterns of convergence and divergence in planning approaches which arise through the international circulation and transfer of 'good practices' in planning and urban policies
  • give students the opportunity to study the planning system, policies and practices of a particular country in depth through an International Planning Project and through their individual dissertation.

The main difference between the MSc International Planning and its sister programme, the MSc Spatial Planning, is the strong international and comparative focus which is achieved through core modules with an international focus (International Planning and International Planning Project). In addition, an international field trip takes place in Term 2.

Please note that the international scope of the MSc primarily encompasses Europe, North America, Australia, South Africa and the Far East, and increasingly China and South-East Asia. Less emphasis is put on the urban development issues and planning systems of developing countries of the Global South (e.g. Africa and Latin America) as there is specific expertise and dedicated MSc programmes offered in another part of the Bartlett Faculty at UCL. If you are interested in planning and social and economic development in countries of the Global South, look at the MSc programmes offered by the Development Planning Unit.

Programme Objectives

The MSc International Planning provides:

  • an opportunity to acquire a broad range of skills and knowledge, while setting foot on the path towards specialisation
  • a programme of study which draws on UCL's position as a leading research-led university
  • an integrated programme, with all modules linked by common principles and an integrated view of the subject matter
  • a principle- and theory-driven programme which gives students both conceptual understanding and the skills needed to tackle practical problems
  • a programme dealing with real places and the role of planning in place-making
  • a programme which includes lecture- and seminar-based modules, project work, site visits and the preparation of a 10,000 word dissertation.


The MSc International Planning is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Contact Details

Programme Director: Dr Susan Moore

Admissions Tutor: Dr Susan Moore

Programme Administrator: Vicki Howard


The diagram below shows the structure of the one-year full-time MSc programme. The programme can also be taken flexibly over two to five years in which case students would normally complete the modules marked PT 1 before moving on to the modules marked PT 2.

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

Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Summer
Pillars of Planning
30 credits
International Planning Project
15 credits
Planning Research Techniques
0 credits
Dissertation in Planning
60 credits
Urban Design: Place Making
15 credits
Critical Debates in International Planning
15 credits
Comparative Planning Systems and Cultures
15 credits
Part 1
15 credits (PT2)
Part 2
15 credits (PT2)

Compulsory Modules

BENVGPLA Pillars of Planning A
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 1

BENVGPLB Pillars of Planning B

Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 2

BENVGPLC Urban Design: Place Making
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 1

BENVGPL6 Comparative Planning Systems and Cultures
Credits: 15
Assessment: Examination
Term 1

BENVGPLG International Planning: Project
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 1

BENVGPL9 Critical Debates in International Planning
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 2


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

BENVGPL3 Planning Research 
Credits: 0
Assessment: None (attendance only)
Term 3

Specialist Modules

A choice of one of the following pairs (Further details of these modules can be found on our post-graduate modules page):

BENVGUR5 / BENVGUR6 Urban Regeneration Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BENVGTC5 / BENVGTC7 Governance for Sustainability Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BENVGPLE / BENVGPLF Planning for Housing Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BENVGPLJ / BENVGPLK Communities and Planning Specialism 
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BENVGPM1 / BENVGMP2 Mega Projects Specialism

Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BENVGTC2 / BENVGTC4 Urban Design Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BENVGEPA / BENVGEPC International Property and Planning Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

Field Trip

All students joining the MSc International Planning will participate in a short field trip in Term 2 of their first year. This trip will be based in a European city outside the UK and will cover a range of spatial planning themes, linking directly to the Master's programme and to the International Planning Project which students have to prepare in Term 2. Previous field trips have taken place in Berlin and Barcelona.

Below: International Planning field trip to Barcelona, February 2012
International Planning Field Trip to Barcelona February 2012 - photo by Shora Azizi


Compulsory Modules

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

BENVGPLC Urban Design: Place Making provides an introduction to urban design through lectures and a series of projects. The module aims to illustrate the potential of design as a creative, problem-solving process and the potential of planning as a 'positive' discipline able to exert a powerful and valuable influence on the overall shape and character of the built and natural environment.

BENVGPL4 Pillars of Planning explores the key concepts and theories underlying the study and management of cities and society through the integrated study of urban economics, sociology, politics, urban governance and environmental management. It looks at the use of social science concepts as analytical and conceptual frameworks for the understanding of issues and policy. The focus is on the integration of social science knowledge to develop confidence in the selection and use of appropriate concepts.

BENVGPL9 Critical Debates in International Planning takes the form of a series of small group seminars in which students have the opportunity to discuss and reflect upon critical debates in spatial planning. It is designed to support the lecture-based teaching.

BENVGPL6 International Planning focuses on planning in a cross-national comparative context and examines the different approaches to, and systems underlying, planning in different national contexts.

BENVGPLG International Planning Project involves a strategic
planning exercise in a European (non-UK) city, and includes a short field trip
in February. In 2009-2010 the case study city was Berlin. After studying the
spatial planning context and issues facing the area, students work in small
groups to prepare a 'spatial concept plan' for a large-scale site in the city.

Dissertation Modules

BENVGPL7 MSc Spatial Planning Dissertation is a record of original work (approximately 10,000 words) linked to UK spatial planning. Submission of a dissertation is required by the end of year 1 (full-time) or the end of year 2 (modular/flexible).

BENVGPL3 Planning Research Techniques 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.


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

URBAN REGENERATION is concerned with innovation, urban and regional economic development and regeneration. These issues are analysed in the context of development economics, the new space economy, the agglomeration of innovative high-technology industries, the concepts of the innovative and creative milieu and emerging forms of urban governance. It comprises two modules:

  • BENVGUR6 Urban Problems and Problematics focuses on the theoretical framework for the understanding of the spatial and socio-economic dynamics of contemporary cities.
  • BENVGUR4 Case Studies in Preparing Regeneration Projects is a structured project in which students are invited to apply the theory and develop their own strategies for the regeneration of a locality.

INTERNATIONAL PROPERTY AND PLANNING specialism comprises two modules:

  • BENVGEPA Planning Practices in Europe focuses on how planning varies among regions and metropolitan areas in Europe and how the European Union has influenced planning systems, policies and practices across the continent.
  • BENVGEPC Comparative Urban Projects examines a diversity of practices in the conception, planning, financing and implementation of urban development projects. Both modules are assessed through coursework (oral presentations, reports and essays).

is divided into two parts reflecting the two primary means through which planners engage in urban design - first as members of a collaborative design team, who advise on design proposals, and second as policy and guideline writers:

  • BENVGTC2 Urban Design: Production, Process, Critique examines the design process through analysis, critique and the generation of alternatives for site-specific design projects.
  • BENVGTC4 Urban Design: Guidance, Incentive, Control addresses the process of design guidance writing and implementation through a group project.

PLANNING FOR HOUSING examines the context for and process of residential development in the UK and is divided into lecture-based and project-based components and comprises two modules:

  • BENVGPLE Planning for Housing: Process 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, then looks at the residential development process from strategic and development planning, land acquisition to development viability.
  • BENVGPLF Planning for Housing: Project challenges students to apply their knowledge of development drivers, actors and practices to real-life housing development opportunities in London. Working in small groups, they will co-ordinate the completion of a comprehensive feasibility study and housing development brief for a specific site.

consists of two modules:

  • BENVGMP4 Critical Issues in Mega Infrastructure Projects provides an opportunity for in-depth reading, critical reflection and discussion around key themes and debates in the planning, appraisal and delivery of mega infrastructure projects.
  • BENVGMP1 Mega Infrastructures as Agents of Change defines the overarching characteristics of mega infrastructure projects, programmes and plans of various kinds and examines their roles as agents of change.

consists of two modules:

  • BEVGSU7 Governance for Urban Sustainability: Key Debates aims to provide an understanding of how broader governance processes for the urban scale can deliver more sustainable outcomes, including an appreciation of the role of different policy instruments and policy integration. 
  • BENVGSU8 Governance for Urban Sustainability: Project, aims to provide students with an understanding of the complexities of developing and implementing policies, projects and initiatives for urban sustainability in specific contexts through deploying different governance approaches and policy instruments.

COMMUNITIES AND PLANNING consists of two modules:

  • BENVGPLJ Communities and Planning: Concepts and Frameworks aims to introduce students to the concept and context of ‘public participation’ in planning. The module considers the history of participation in planning and local governance, and contextualises this though an exploration of related social and political concepts.  These concepts and frameworks are considered in critical perspective in relation to planning’s accomplishments and limitations in participatory forms of practice.
  • BENVGPLK Communities and Planning: Tools and Practice introduces students to the tools available to engage communities and the ways participation can work in practice alongside the challenges and failures of participatory practice.  The module considers a range of techniques and contexts for participation through workshop style discussions. These are critically framed by consideration of the role and place of the built environment professional in relation to participation practice. 


Programme Director

Dr Susan Moore
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Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Dr Sonia Arbaci
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Professor Matthew Carmona
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Dr Ben Clifford
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Dr Claire Colomb
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Professor Nick Phelps
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Dr Jung Won Sonn
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Professor John Tomaney
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Professor Fulong Wu
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Dr Fangzhu Zhang
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International Planning MSc

Key Information

Modes and duration
  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time: 2 years
  • Flexible: 2-5 years
Tuition Fees (2016/17)
£12,200 (FT)
£22,380 (FT)
Application deadlines
All applicants
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 29 July 2016
Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma with fees set accordingly.
Fees note: Part-time fees are available on request from the department. 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

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree from a UK university (or higher). 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 planning. Where this is the case, applicants will still be expected to meet the minimum UCL academic requirement of a lower second-class degree.

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?

The programme is intended for students who want an international perspective on planning systems and cultures or are likely to develop careers outside the UK after graduation, in planning or related fields such as housing, urban regeneration, transport planning, and urban design.

Application deadlines
All applicants
29 July 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:
  • why you want to study International Planning at graduate level
  • why you want to study International Planning at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
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 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 local government and central government planning and in planning-related consultancy, graduates are also employed in the following areas:

  • housing and transport sectors
  • planning, urban regeneration and environmental agencies
  • public and private utility companies
  • teaching and research