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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Study  /  Graduate Taught  /  MSc Urban Studies

MSc Urban Studies


For full information about this programme, please visit

Interdisciplinary Urbanism

Cities are increasingly a central focus for research, policy-making and public debate. It has been widely claimed over the last decade that more than half the global population now lives in cities and according to the United Nations this is set to rise to three-quarters by the year 2050. The scale and complexity of these developments necessitate the development of innovative, international and interdisciplinary modes of analysis that can address critical challenges and influence debates both within and outside the academy. These range from rethinking urban regeneration, gentrification, public space and multiculturalism to large-scale challenges such as slums, poverty and access to basic services. Cities are now at the maelstrom of social, cultural and ecological change reflected in new conceptions of identity, collective memory and the technological transformations of everyday life.

By taking this MSc Programme you will be better able to understand these debates and apply your own knowledge in the course of your career - whether this is geared towards further research and writing or through an enriched practical and professional contribution to the urban arena. We attract students from a wide variety of disciplinary and geographical backgrounds, including a significant cohort of part-time students working in professional fields such as journalism, architecture, graphics design and transport planning.

The Urban Studies MSc Programme is closely connected with the UCL Urban Laboratory an innovative university-wide initiative bringing together the best urban teaching and research at UCL from civil engineering to film studies, from urban history to the latest developments in architectural design.


The MSc programme includes core courses in theory, practice and methods, a range of specialist options and the Research Dissertation.

The total credit value of the Programme is 180 credits, 60 of which are taken up by the Research Dissertation and 45 by the three core modules: Urban Imaginations, Cities Space and Power and Urban Practices. The remaining 75 credits are made up by the optional modules you choose.

Core Modules

Module codeModule titleUCL Credit value
GEOG0136 Cities, Space and Power 15 credits
GEOG0137 Urban Imaginations 15 credits
GEOG0140 Urban Practices 15 credits

Optional Modules

In addition to the three core modules, optional modules totaling 75 credits are taken:

Urban Studies Optional Modules


The research dissertation is a substantial piece of independent research.  The dissertation must comprise an argument drawn from the appropriate theoretical literature; a methodological design appropriate to the topic and achievable within the four month period; presentation of results and analysis of findings.  The dissertation is the final element of the MSc, and through the successful design, implementation and completion of the project, each student is required to demonstrate their understanding of the MSc themes, critical thinking and analysis, communication and presentation.

You will be taught by world-leading urban researchers whose expertise covers cities across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. The programme benefits from its close associations with the UCL Urban Lab and the Global Urbanisms group in UCL Geography.

Core staff on the Programme include:

Pushpa Arabindoo | Department of Geography | Chennai

Ben Campkin | Bartlett School of Architecture | London

Andrew Harris | Department of Geography | London, Mumbai

Claire Melhuish | UCL Urban Laboratory | London, Qatar, Kingston


Staff closely affiliated with the Programme include:

Camillo Boano | Development Planning Unit | Bangkok, Jerusalem, Mumbai, Rome, Istanbul

Iain Borden | Bartlett School of Architecture | London, Singapore

Ellie Cosgrave | STEaPP | London

Ayona Datta | Department of Geography | Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Nashik, Jalandhar, Shimla and other Indian cities

Michael Edwards | Bartlett School of Planning | London

Alan Latham | Department of Geography | Berlin, Auckland

Michal Murawski | School of Slavic and Eastern European Studies

Jane Rendell | Bartlett School of Architecture | London

Jennifer Robinson | Department of Geography | Johannesburg

Rafael Schacter Department of Anthropology | London, Manila

Tatiana Thieme | Department of Geography | Nairobi, Paris

Ann Varley | Department of Geography | Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puebla

Information on fees and funding can be found on the main UCL website.

  1. Fees*
  2. Scholarships

*Please note that optional choice modules in Term 2 may incur additional costs for accommodation and transport associated with residential field classes or fieldwork.

You can apply for a place on this Programme via UCL Admissions.

This interdisciplinary programme welcomes candidates from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, and is suitable for students who wish to develop their understanding of the current debates in this field, either as a foundation for further research or to enrich their practical and professional contribution to the urban arena.

Potential applicants are expected to have a first or upper second-class Honours degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Make sure you are clear why you are interested in this particular programme in the personal statement. A good level of English is required for students without a previous English language degree.

If you have further questions about the Programme or would like to make an appointment to meet staff, you can email either the Department or course convener Dr Andrew Harris.

The Urban Studies MSc programme will improve the knowledge and skills necessary for careers in academia, public and private research, and other commercial and professional fields where an advanced understanding of cities and urban change is required.

Since its launch in 2008/2009, graduates have found employment in, amongst other sectors, municipal and local government, urban political organisations, art consultancies, financial services, social enterprise companies, cultural institutions, community development organisations and think-tanks. For example, our students have been employed as a Research Associate at the Demos Think Tank (2009), as an Urban Development Strategist at 00:/ Architects (2010) and as a Political Researcher at the London Civic Forum (2011).

Our graduates have an impressive record of continuing their research as PhD students. This includes at UCL (in Geography, the Development Planning Unit, Planning, CASA and Architectural Design) as well as in Europe and North America (such as at the University of Zurich, the Open University, LSE, Cambridge University, King's College, Universidade do Porto,  Humboldt University Berlin, TU Berlin, Oxford University and University of Minnesota). See further details here.

Given the diverse backgrounds of our students it is difficult to generalise about what they do beyond the MSc, but here is a selection of roles undertaken by our graduates: Editor of a business magazine, broadcast journalist, programme and research lead at Future of London, product developer, lawyer, preservation researcher, research and management officer, site-specific theatre co-ordinator, auditor, artist, strategy designer, planner in urban redevelopment authority, community coordinator for the Guardian, digital communication officer for UK civil service, planning professional in private consultancy, recruitment consultant, urban researcher in Johannesburg, station capacity planner, creative writer, marketing business analyst for Transport for London, project and new service development manager for a community health organisation, marketing & communications manager, assistant private secretary UK government, news editor and satellite coordinator, research and support officer for GLA, information officer for charity, intern at United Nations, project and new service development manager for a community health organisation . . .