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MSc/Dip Urban Design & City Planning


Urban design has reclaimed its place as a core focus of planning, real estate and development, and the context in which city planning is studied has shifted. In light of these shifts, the MSc Urban Design and City Planning has been developed as a programme with a unique focus on urban design as a creative planning tool. Students on the programme will gain a good understanding of the interface between urban design and city planning and will develop the the ability to think in critical, creative and analytical ways across the different scales of the city and across the fields of urban design, planning, real estate and sustainability.

Students will specialise in the field of urban design and will explore the purpose and potential of this subject in great depth. The programme builds upon a long-term urban design research specialisation within the Bartlett School of Planning. In addition to this urban design specialism, the programme is inter-disciplinary and integrates various social science disciplines. It is also international, drawing on comparative studies and experiences from other European, North American and Asian countries.

As well as a focus on the nature and purpose of urban design and planning, this programme exposes students to urban design as both a direct (project-based) and indirect (policy and guidance-based) discipline, to the critical interfaces between urban design and real estate and urban design and sustainability, to project work across scales (strategic to local), to theoretical debates and problematics, to practical and professional design, planning and graphics skills, and to the importance of research within the planning / urban design field.
Overall, this is a unique urban design programme which offers a comprehensive understanding of, and exposure to, both theory and practice within the disciplines of urban design and city planning.

The MSc Urban Design and City Planning is a full-time one-year course consisting of 180 credits in total. Part-time students can complete the programme within two to five years.  They will be expected to submit their MSc dissertation or major research project in their last year of study, after completing all the taught components of the course. 

Programme Objectives

The MSc Urban Design and City Planning aims to help students develop a capacity to look comprehensively into the theory and practice of the urban design and city planning fields, understand the quality and diversity of design products and plan-making processes, and deliver these at a wide range of scales in a sustainable and effective manner.

The primary purpose of the programme is to prepare students to become creative, problem-solving professionals and equip those wanting to work in the urban design, planning and development sector in the UK, Europe and internationally with the necessary skills, knowledge and aptitudes to address the complex urban challenges of our age and understand, plan, appraise and deliver future urban design in an integrative way.

The programme is designed for those with initial training in planning, architecture, landscape architecture, real estate or other allied disciplines who wish to complete or expand their professional education. However, it also offers an invaluable grounded qualification for new entrants to the field and is equally suited to those with professional experience or those with none.


The MSc Urban Design and City Planning achieves its objectives by concentrating on the following areas: 

  • The mechanisms which govern the built environment and and the way in which they shape the design and development of cities
  • The understanding and evaluation of design quality in the urban environment
  • Urban design principles: qualities and aspects of development form which are key to the delivery process of quality environments
  • Frameworks for urban design guidance, incentive and control
  • Plan-making: masterplanning at both strategic and local scales
  • Key theoretical debates and methodological approaches in the fields of urban design and city planning
  • Theories and techniques in real estate development and their implications for urban design
  • The understanding of the value created and distributed through interventions in the built environment, and the valuation and appraisal mechanisms used to measure it
  • An appreciation of land, property and the urban environment as financial assets, and the implications for the development sector
  • Sustainability in urban design: ‘smart’ processes of delivery and the influence of resource-reducing technologies in urban strategies.

Major Research Project or Dissertation

Students are required to demonstrate a capacity for in-depth critical thinking through research. This can take the form of a written dissertation or a major research project. The dissertation or major research project will draw on available theory and debates, submit them to a critical analysis based on primary and/or secondary data and on a review of the literature, and from this draw conclusions and offer recommendations. For a dissertation the output is purely textual, whereas a major research project offers the opportunity to integrate design and project work into the research.

Read more about the Major Research Project in Planning module.


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

The PGDip Urban Design and City Planning is also accredited by RTPI, but only for students who have completed an RTPI accredited BSc programme in Planning in the UK.

Contact details

Programme Director: Dr Elisabete Cidre

Admissions Tutor: Lucy Montague

Programme Administrator: Anthony Grout

For administrative inquiries about your application (procedures, progress etc.) please contact the Graduate Faculty Office:
Tel: +44 (0)  20 3108 9018 / 9004
Email: bartlett.pgclerk@ucl.ac.uk

For substantive inquiries please contact Anthony Grout by email (anthony.grout@ucl.ac.uk) or by telephone (+44(0)20 7679 4797). 


This new MSc programme draws on the relationship between Urban Design - in particular ‘urban place-making by design’ - and aspects of governance, real estate and sustainability. It integrates the following learning areas:

  1. City Planning, with a focus on spatial planning and strategic plan-making (large-scale masterplanning)
  2. Integrative thinking, with a focus on place-making (neighbourhood scale masterplanning and open space design) and critical debates, offering students a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories associated with urban design
  3. Delivering Quality, which integrates the curricula of urban design, real estate, urban design and sustainability
  4. Planning for Quality, with a focus on the understanding of the various types of urban design products and the complexity of their delivery processes, as well as the understanding and delivery of urban design tools for guidance, incentive and control
MSc UDCP Structure


Core Modules

BENVGPL5 Spatial Planning: Concepts and Contexts (15 credits)

The module examines the evolution of the planning system in the UK with particular reference to spatial planning policy and spatial plan development, regulations and procedures governing plan-making processes and development control decisions. It aims to provide students with a thorough analysis of spatial planning and strategy development, including awareness of contemporary changes to planning, regeneration and place-shaping, the onset of spatial planning and its meanings, and its transformation into an enabling and community-supportive activity. It provides a conceptual and practical examination of the evolution of and search for spatial planning as a political exercise, including its origins in the European Community, and its application across and within the UK, within different territories and regions, and its application to local areas and neighbourhoods. The module also gains from the comparison of the UK planning system to other countries planning systems.

BENVGPLD From Strategic Vision to Urban Plan (15 credits)

The module looks to familiarize students with some of the current principles and practices of regional and local planning in the Thames Gateway Area, and demonstrate how these may be presented/translated in spatial terms; at delivering. Students are required to prepare a client-based project in response to a set of planning aims and objectives, and to deliver the wider vision for the region. This vision for the region takes the form of a Strategic Regional Development Plan setting out a strategy, and a conceptual Master Plan for the area.

BENVGPLC Urban Design: Place Making* (15 credits)

The module provides students with an introductory yet comprehensive overview of urban design theory and provides an opportunity to turn urban design theory into practice through the completion of an urban design project The course illustrates the potential of design as a creative problem solving process, a process necessary to deliver the types of public and private investments in the built environment that will continue to return value to their users and investors over the long-term. In achieving this, the course provides a basic grounding for the exploration of urban design issues in greater depth through the Urban Design Specialism (composed by Urban Design: Product, Process and Critique and Urban Design Guidance, Incentive and Control modules below). It also provides a stepping off point for thinking creatively about planning at a larger spatial scale, for more detailed discussions about sustainable urban design and for preparing and implementing regeneration projects.

* The Bartlett’s own students that have completed the BSC Urban Planning, Design and Management will, in alternative, choose another module relevant to the field of Planning, in consultation with the Course Director.

BENVGPD2 Critical Debates in Urban Design and City Planning (15 credits)

The module will provide students with an opportunity for in-depth reading, reflection and critical discussion around key urban design and spatial planning themes and debates. Students will be able to acquire a deeper knowledge of forms, practices and theories associated with urban design. An integrated view of urban design and its key areas of knowledge.

BENVGPD1 Design and Real Estate (15 credits)

The module integrates the curriculum of urban design and real estate. It explores both theories and techniques in real estate development (such as market mechanisms, policy tools, pricing, appraisal, investment and environment certification), and their implications for Urban Design, in particular the masterplanning process. Students are introduced to concepts and principles of real estate development in the context of planning and design based on a real practice based project. As part of this they will develop an outline scheme design, considering its site, planning and real estate context, while also appraising its commercial viability and feasibility, and considering aspects of its implementation, management and finance.

BENVGSU3 Sustainable Urban Design (15 credits)

The module explores the ideas of sustainable urban design through making an urban design proposal. The project work will synthesize the abstract concepts of urban design and sustainability by applying these ideas to a place. The aim is to apply different interpretations of sustainability in urban design and explore how the implementation of these resource reducing technologies can inform urban strategies.

BENVGTC2 Urban Design: Layout, Density & Typology (15 credits)

Theories, which address the form of the urban structure, will be introduced. Elements, which make up the urban structure, will be described. The typologies of built form and open space will be explained. Examples illustrating the elements and typologies will be used as a basis for discussion. The effectiveness of the elements and typologies will be explored, developed and tested in a series of exercises focussing on evaluation and design.

BENVGTC4 Urban Design: Guidance, Incentive & Control (15 credits)

The module focuses on the relationship between design and indirect public sector processes of influencing design outcomes through guidance, incentive and control. The extent to which design is recognised as a legitimate interest planning has been a matter of great controversy dating back to the evolution of the planning system in Britain. In reality, the majority of decisions planners make will be design related in one form or other - albeit at very different scales of operation - from those dealing with settlement form, to those dealing with land use mix, to those concerned with detailed design and individual site layout. To that extent planning is undoubtedly a design discipline and planners need to be aware of, and concerned with, the design consequences of their decisions on the ground.

Planning has sometimes been seen as a reactive, negative and even reactionary process. An engagement with urban design provides the primary means to turn this around, and to create instead a proactive, positive and even visionary decision-making process. This module explores the processes and tools that will enable planners to once again demonstrate the power of the discipline to change real places for the better.

In addition to the taught modules listed above, all MSc students also register for a 0-credit research techniques module and the dissertation / major research project module worth 60 credits: 

BENVGPL3 Planning Research (0 credits)

The module aims to provide an understanding of the way in which successful research is undertaken. It introduces a range of methods employed in both quantitative and qualitative analysis and assist students in the development of the skills that are required to complete their MSc dissertation/project.

BENVGPL7 Dissertation or Major Research Project in Planning (60 credits)

The main aim of the preparation of a Report is to help students acquire and demonstrate skills of finding out about, understanding and reporting creatively on urban design, planning, real estate and sustainability issues, preferably in a country other than their own. Examples of final works, see below.

Major Research Projects
  • Re-modelling of vehicle and pedestrian's movement in sites of Historic Monuments - based on 'Edge Effect' theory.
  • Revitalizing Old Pune: A core city Strategy: Regeneration and re-configuration with respect to the public realm and transportation
  • Community Cohesion - Lessons from Islamic cities
  • Blurring the edges: integrating resilience into dynamic urban riverfronts in Bristol
  • How can the re-evaluation of vacant space utilising an asset-led approach begin to overcome the barriers to the long-term re-imagining & regeneration of Britain’s town centres?  An Organic, Asset-Led Approach to Social, Cultural and Economic Development in Croydon Metropolitan Centre

Read more about the Major Research Project.

  • Natural disasters as cultural catalysts for city branding and tourism development: based on the case study of Tangshan.
  • A study of academic perceptions of private management in public-private space: How have the Private Management methods of BIDs in Central London affected their public usage?"
  • Privately owned, publically accessible space: Is there a best practice model?


Programme Director:

Dr Filipa Wunderlich
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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 Iqbal Hamiduddin
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Professor Michael Hebbert
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Dr Stephen Marshall
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Dr Lucy Montague
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Professor Peter Rees
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Dr Tse-Hui Teh
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Professor John Tomaney
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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 1 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.

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.

The MSc Urban design and City Planning is an opportunity for students seeking to further their professional careers to specialise in urban design, and, within that broad arena, to engage deeply with both theoretical debates and practical methodologies, with particular research agendas of direct relevance to the future of their professional practice.

Relationship to the urban design and planning practice industry

The MSc Urban Design and City Planning benefits from a close relationship with the urban design and planning practice industry. The programme draws on established links with planning and urban design practices. Practitioners are invited each year to lecture, deliver seminars and workshops for the students, and supervise project work as part of several core modules and the final major research project component. The programme frequently receives input from organisations such as Urban Initiatives Studio, Terry Farrell, MacCreanor & Lavington Architects, Croydon and Camden Council, Great London Authority (GLA) – Design for London, Urban Movement, East Landscape Architects, Colin Buchanan, Urban Design Skills, Just Space Network, and others.


A number of graduates of the programme are employed in urban design, planning or in planning-related jobs, with their employers ranging from private consultancies to local authorities. An increasing proportion (over a third) of our graduates enter consultancy work, whilst others go on to work in either the development and transport sectors, the public sector, or non-profit organisations. A smaller number choose to continue higher degree studies and PhD research.

The programme strives to maintain a good connection with graduates working in urban design and planning practice in public and private offices in both the UK and abroad. Employers of Bartlett School of Planning graduates include: ARUP, Populous, Croydon Council, WYG Planning & Environment, Gallions Housing Association, Bioregional, Foster and Partners, Urban Initiatives and Movement, and many more.


UCL boasts a dynamic alumni network of more than 150,000 members. In addition to the UCL network, once you graduate from the MSc programme you will have the opportunity to join the Bartlett School and Bartlett Planning alumni networks on LinkedIn and Facebook. These platforms allow previous students to stay in touch, exchange information, network and attend events specially organised by these groups.