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MSc/Dip Spatial Planning


Spatial Planning is a process of place shaping and delivery. It is about the management of space and development in order to create better places, responding to the needs of society, the economy and the environment.

The MSc Spatial Planning takes a critical approach to understanding the values, changes and challenges affecting the built and natural environment around us, and thinking about the possibilities for intervention and management of physical development to bring about better outcomes.  Drawing on the UK’s long-tradition of urban, regional, land-use and town planning and policy-making, the degree encourages students to think about how people, places and the environment interact and change at a range of scales from the local to the supra-national, and the ways such interaction and change might be influenced.

The degree is primarily focussed on UK practices, but these are situated within a European and global context and approached through a critical analysis and evaluation.  The degree includes both core modules, providing an introduction to the key knowledge, values and theories, and specialist modules which allow students to tailor their studies to their interests.

Programme Objectives

The MSc Spatial 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 broad, critical 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 spatial perspective on planning systems and cultures.
  • a programme which includes lecture- and seminar-based modules, project work, site visits and the preparation of a 10,000 word dissertation.


The MSc Spatial Planning is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It is a ‘fast-track conversion course’ in that graduates on any discipline from their first degree are then eligible for entry routes to both professional bodies after completing our programme. The MSc Spatial Planning thus allows students a planning career through internationally-recognised professional bodies regardless of their subject background.
Further information on accreditation and routes to membership can be obtained from the RTPI and RICS websites.

Contact details

Programme Director: Dr Ben Clifford

Admissions Tutor: Dr Elisabete Cidre

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.

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 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)
Critical Debates in Planning BENVGTC9 - 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
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

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

Optional Modules

A choice of one of the following pairs:

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

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

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 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 attempts to bring together some of the key contextual and specialist material presented in earlier parts of the programme, while addressing a strategic planning exercise at a regional level (Thames Gateway) and a particular locality (study area to be disclosed in session 1).

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.

BENVGTC9 Critical Debates in 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.

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 Ben Clifford
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Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Elena Besussi
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Professor Matthew Carmona
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Dr Elisabete Cidre
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Dr Claire Colomb
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Professor Harry Dimitriou
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Professor Nick Gallent
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Dr Nikos Karadimitriou
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Professor Janice Morphet
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Dr Claudio de Magalhães
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Dr Stephen Marshall
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Dr HaeRan Shin
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Dr Jung Won Sonn
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Professor John Tomaney
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Dr Jo Williams
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Dr Filipa Wunderlich
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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
  • 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.