UCL Home

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, there is the possibility to study abroad in one of our partner universities in the third term, and the MSc dissertation focuses on an international case study and/or a comparison between two countries.

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 Jessica Ferm

Admissions Tutor: Dr Jessica Ferm

Programme Administrator: Janaki O'Halpin


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
International Planning
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

BENVGPLG International Planning
Credits: 15
Assessment: Examination
Term 1

BENVGPL6 International Planning: Project
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 1

BENVGTC9 Critical Debates in Planning
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 2


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

Planning Research Support Module
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 Sustainable Urban Development Specialism
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

BENVGPLE / BENVGPLF Planning for Housing 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.

SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT is structured around two modules:

  • BENVGTC5 Sustainable Urban Development: Key Themes 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. It provides a sound theoretical basis from which students can conduct the sustainable urban development project.
  • BENVGTC7 Sustainable Urban Development: Project has an integrating function as it brings together some of the key contextual and specialist material presented in the earlier module. The aim of the project is to investigate one development/initiative and to analyse its strengths and weaknesses in terms of contributing to the goal of urban sustainability. There is an emphasis on independent and group investigation of the development/initiative.

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.


Programme Director

Dr Jessica Ferm
View Jessica's profile
Send Jessica an email

Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Professor Matthew Carmona
View Matthew's profile
Send Matthew an email

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

Dr Claire Colomb
View Claire's profile
Send Claire an email

Dr Jessica Ferm
View Jessica's profile
Send Jessica an email

Professor Nick Phelps
View Nick's profile
Send Nick an email

Dr Jung Won Sonn
View Jung Won's profile
Send Jung Won an email

Dr Jo Williams
View Jo's profile
Send Jo an email

Dr Filipa Wunderlich
View Filipa's profile
Send Filipa an email


Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships

For information, please see the faculty admissions information here.

The deadline for UK/EU applications is 1 August 2014. International students who require a Tier 4 visa are strongly advised to submit their application before 15 June 2014.

We regret that we are not able to consider any applications received after 1st August 2014.


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