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
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.
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, urban design and landscape architecture, who wish to complete or expand their professional education. However, it also offers an invaluable grounded qualification for new entrants to the field, with initial training in other urban spatial related disciplines e.g. geography, anthropology, sociology, environmental studies and others. The programme 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 takes the form of a written dissertation. The dissertation 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.
The PGDip Urban Design and City Planning is also accredited by RTPI, but only for students who have completed an RTPI accredited undergraduate degree in Planning in the UK.
Acting Programme Director: Professor Matthew Carmona
Programme Admissions Tutor: Dr Pablo Sendra
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
For substantive inquiries please contact Anthony Grout by email (email@example.com) or by telephone (+44(0)20 3108 9549).
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:
- City Planning, with a focus on spatial planning and strategic plan-making (large-scale masterplanning)
- 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
- Delivering Quality, which integrates the curricula of urban design, real estate, urban design and sustainability
- 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
|Term 1||Term 2||Term 3||Summer|
(PT yr 1)
Collaborative City Planning Strategies
(PT yr 1)
|City Planning Exam||
Dissertation or Major Research Project
Urban Design: Place Making
(Pt yr 1)
Critical Debates in Urban Design and City Planning
(PT yr 1)
|Research Methods Workshop|
Design and Real Estate
(PT yr 2)
Sustainable Futures by Design
(PT yr 2)
|Planning for Quality||
Urban Design: Layout, Density and Typology
(PT yr 2)
Urban Design: Guidance, Incentive and Control
(PT yr 2)
BENVGPD5 City Planning (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.
BENVGPD3 Collaborative City Planning Strategies (15 credits)
Neighbourhood planning is one of the key innovations brought forward by the reform of the UK planning system. It seeks to allow local communities to make decisions about the future of their area by developing Neighbourood Plans. In London neighbourhood planning faces a key challenge: the development of the technical expertise and evidence base required to prepare plans that can negotiate local needs with the strategic dimension of London’s planning. In the context of this “planning revolution”, the module gives the students the opportunity to experience what it means to be a planner in a live context. In groups, students will work collaboratively with existing London’s neighbourhood forums and use planning and spatial knowledge to support their progress towards the creation of a neighbourhood plan. The output of the module consists in a report submitted to the forum.
In terms of learning outcomes, the module 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.
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.
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.
The best examples of British urban regeneration are created by collaboration between the development industry, architects and local planners. Through site visits, presentations and critical interrogation, we learn how this is achieved. The absence of municipal master planning in the UK creates opportunity and flexibility for the development sector, but requires unique planning skills to shape projects and represent the needs of the community. Students visit 4 areas of major commercial development in Central London and receive presentations from senior property professionals, architects and planners. The course covers key elements of master-planning, architectural design, real estate and project management, which combine to produce successful development projects in London, a world business city.
Student teams are assigned to one of the featured locations to identify the unique set of characteristics that form its identity as a place. This activity is complimented by gathering information on local transport provision, accessibility and land use and a review of the local planning policies relating to development. These studies inform a final presentation “selling” the key attractions of the location as a potential investment opportunity for commercial development. The combination of team working and concise presentation mirrors the “real world” of real estate.
The module provides students with a holistic approach to all the aspects of sustainability: social, cultural, economic and environmental. It seeks make students reflect on possible sustainable future cities by addressing issues that are currently at the forefront of the debate on urban design and city planning: how to make cities more inclusive, collaborative, consume less resources, interact with nature and, at the same time, strengthen its design and maintain and reuse its heritage. The module combines design and theoretical reflection through a series of lectures, workshops and a design proposal.
The module provides an opportunity to critically investigate the spatial characteristics and qualities of the built environment, with a focus on layout, density, and typology, and explore the use of different typologies in the development of design proposals that seek to answer complex urban problems. This project-based module aims to develop knowledge and a range of skills for carrying out urban design investigations and proposals.
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:
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.
The dissertation or major research project develops students’ research skills and abilities and allows students to explore – in depth – a particular and usually complex area covered in their MSc core or specialist teaching. The dissertation or project represents a study of a specified topic based on the gathering and analysis of primary and/or secondary data and on a review of the literature.
- 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?
Staff teaching on the programme currently include:
Dr Richard Simmons
Send Richard an email
Urban Design and City Planning MSc
Modes and duration
- Full-time: 1 year
- Flexible: 2-5 years
Programme start date
Tuition Fees (2016/17)
- £12,200 (FT)
- £22,380 (FT)
Preferably an upper second-class Bachelor's degree (or higher) from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
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 considering the application. Applicants who do not hold a good second-class degree may, in exceptional cases, be admitted to the programme if 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.
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 primarily directed at those with an initial training in planning, architecture or other allied disciplines who wish to complete or expand their professional education. Students will specialise in the area of urban design, exploring the purpose and potential of this subject in great depth, supporting those wanting to work in the urban design, planning and development sector in the UK, Europe or overseas.
- 1 June 2016
- 29 July 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 Urban Design and City Planning at graduate level
- why you want to study Urban Design and City 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
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.
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.