UCL Home

MSc/Dip Spatial Planning


Spatial planning is the management of space and development to create places that meet the needs of society, the economy and the environment.

Who should apply

Graduates who wish to make a career in planning, related fields (such as housing, urban regeneration, transport planning or urban design), or teaching and/or research.

About the course

The MSc Spatial Planning provides:

  • an integrated programme, with all modules linked by common principles
  • a programme dealing with real places and the role of planning in place-making
  • a spatial perspective on planning systems and cultures
  • lecture- and seminar-based modules, project work, site visits and the preparation of a 10,000 word dissertation

The degree looks at how people, places and the environment interact and change, and the ways this might be influenced. The focus is on UK practices. They’re considered within a European and global context, and approached through critical analysis and evaluation.

The degree includes both core modules, providing an introduction to key knowledge, and specialist modules, allowing you to tailor your studies to your interests.

Why choose The Bartlett?

We offer:

  • a programme that draws on UCL's position as a leading research-led university
  • an opportunity to acquire a broad range of skills and knowledge, while setting foot on the path towards specialisation
  • a principle- and theory-driven programme giving both conceptual understanding and the skills needed to tackle practical problems


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

The degree is a ‘fast-track conversion course’. Graduates are eligible for entry routes to both professional bodies after completing our programme, regardless of subject background.

Further information on accreditation and routes to membership can be obtained from the RTPI and RICS websites.

More information

To find out more, please contact:

Programme Director: Dr Ben Clifford
Admissions Tutor: Dr Elisabete Cidre
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.

The MSc Spatial Planning comprises 120 credits of taught modules and 60 credits of dissertation. It runs over a year full-time, and two years part-time (though the programme can be studied over a period of up to five years in modular mode) with most classes timetabled in the first and second terms. A research support module runs in Term 3, which is scheduled to coincide with the early stages of the production of an MSc Dissertation.

For students studying part-time, we are usually able to timetable classes so that it is possible to have to attend the university only one day per week during the three teaching terms.  This enables students to complete the course on a ‘day release’ basis from their employment, although obviously considerable further study in their own time is also required.

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

Term 1
The Pillars of Planning
BENVGPLA and BENVGPLB - 30 credits (PT 1)
Urban Design: Place Making BENVGPLC - 15 credits (PT 1)
Spatial Planning: Concepts and Contexts BENVGPL5 - 15 credits (PT 1)
Part 1 - 15 credits (PT 2)

Term 2
The Pillars of Planning BENVGPLA and BENVGPLB - 30 credits (PT 1)
From Strategic Vision to Urban Plan BENVGPLD - 15 credits (PT 1)
Spatial Planning: Critical Practice BENVGPLH - 15 credits (PT 2)
Specialism Part 2 - 15 credits (PT 2)

Term 3
Planning Research Techniques BENVGPL3 (PT 2)

Dissertation in Planning BENVGPL7 - 60 credits (PT 2)

Compulsory Modules:

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

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

BENVGPLD From Strategic Vision to Urban Plan
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 2

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

BENVGPLB Pillars of Planning B
Credits: 15
Assessment: Coursework
Term 2

BENVGPLH Spatial Planning: Critical Practice
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

Optional Modules

A choice of one of the following pairs:

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

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

BENVGMP4 / BENVGMP1 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

BENVGSU7 / BENVGSU8 Governance for Sustainability
Credits: 30
Assessment: Coursework
Terms 1 and 2

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

Field trips

All students joining the MSc Spatial Planning will participate in two field trips. In Term 1, there is a short overnight field trip to a British city outside London. In Term 2, there is a week-long field trip to a European city outside the UK, for example Copenhagen or Delft/Amsterdam. The trips will cover a range of spatial planning themes, linking directly to the Master's programme. Part-time students will need to be available to attend the trips during their first year of study.


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

Compulsory Modules

BENVGPL5 Spatial Planning: Concepts and Contexts examines the evolution of the planning system in the UK. Particular reference is made to spatial planning policy and spatial plan development, ranging from European to national, regional, local and community practices. This will be contextualised with reference to current statutory rules, regulations and procedures governing plan-making processes and development control decisions.

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.

BENVGPLD From Strategic Vision to Urban Plan aims to provide students with the competence, confidence and skills required to develop urban plans and spatial knowledge which critically engage with planning as a peopled, political and technical process. In groups, students will work collaboratively with existing London’s neighbourhood forums and use planning and spatial knowledge to support the forums' progress towards the creation of a neighbourhood plan.

BENVGPLA / BENVGPLB 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.

BENVGPLH Spatial Planning: Critical Practice is delivered through a mixture of lectures and small group seminars and aims to develop students’ understanding of key debates and theories relevant to ‘planning practice’.  The course is structured around key questions and dilemmas facing UK planners and considers the field as a professional, peopled process.

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.

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 Ben Clifford
View Ben's profile

Send Ben an email

Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Elena Besussi
View Elena's profile
Send Elena an email

Professor Matthew Carmona
View Matthew's profile

Send Matthew an email

Dr Elisabete Cidre
View Elisabete's profile
Send Elisabete an email

Dr Claire Colomb
View Claire's profile

Send Claire an email

Professor Harry Dimitriou
View Harry's profile

Send Harry an email

Professor Nick Gallent
View Nick's profile

Send Nick an email

Dr Nikos Karadimitriou
View Nikos's profile

Send Nikos an email

Professor Janice Morphet
View Janice's profile

Send Janice an email

Dr Claudio de Magalhães
View Claudio's profile

Send Claudio an email

Dr Stephen Marshall
View Stephen's profile

Send Stephen an email

Dr Jung Won Sonn
View Jung Won's profile

Send Jung Won an email

Professor John Tomaney
View John's profile
Send John an email

Dr Jo Williams
View Jo's profile

Send Jo an email

Dr Filipa Wunderlich
View Filipa's profile

Send Filipa an email


Spatial Planning MSc

Key Information

Modes and duration
  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time: 2 years
  • Flexible: 2-5 years

Programme start date

September 2016
Tuition Fees (2016/17)
£12,200 (FT)
£22,380 (FT)
Application dates
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: 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

Preferably an upper second-class Bachelor's degree (or higher) from a UK university or an overseas qualification of equivalent standing. There is no particular subject requirement as the MSc provides an 'initial' planning education for graduates with cognate and non-cognate degrees. Where candidates fail to meet the standard requirement (i.e. they hold a degree of a lower classification), the department will take into account professional experience in planning or a related field when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Applicants who do not hold a first degree may, in exceptional cases, by admitted to the programme if they are able to demonstrate considerable senior-level professional experience in planning or a related field.

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 designed for graduates from any relevant discipline who wish to make a career in planning (in central and local government, private consultancy, voluntary bodies, etc.), in related fields (such as housing, urban regeneration, transport planning or urban design), or in teaching and/or research.

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.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
  • why you want to study Spatial Planning at graduate level
  • why you want to study Spatial 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
  • public policy

Destination statistics for 2011 showed that 94% of those graduating from the School that year were in employment or further study within six months of leaving us.