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

MSc Urban Studies


Visit the UCL Urban Lab for more information about this Programme


Increasingly, cities are becoming the central focus for research, policy-making and public debate. More than half the global population now live in cities, with the UN predicting that number to rise to three-quaters by 2050.

To understand this scale and complexity we need to develop innovative methods of analysis, addressing the critical challenges and influencing debates both within academia and the wider world.

The range from:

  • Urban regeneration
  • Gentrification
  • Public space
  • Multiculturalism
  • Slums and poverty
  • Access to basic services

Cities are at the heart of social, cultural and ecological change, a fact reflected in growing conceptions of identity, collective memory and technological transformations.

This Programme will help you understand these issues and apply the knowledge you gain with us in your future career. Whether you want to go further into research or make a professional contribution to your urban area, the MSc Urban Studies is your starting point.

You'll be joining a student body representing a wide variety of disciplinary and geographical backgrounds. Typically, we have a significant cohort of part-time students working in professional fields including journalism, architecture, graphic design and transport.

The Programme includes theory, practice and methods core courses alongside a range of specialist options and the Research Dissertation.

Your modules will make up a total of 180 credits consisting of:

  • 45 for the core modules
  • 60 for the Research Dissertation
  • 75 for the optional modules

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

The Programme offers a wide range of optional modules drawing on the broad spectrum of urban expertise at UCL.

Look for optional modules at the UCL Urban Lab.


The dissertation is a substantial piece of independent research.

It includes:

  • An argument taken from the appropriate theoretical literature
  • A methodological design appropriate to the topic
  • A presentation of the results
  • An analysis of your findings.

The dissertation is the final element of the MSc. Through the successful design, implementation and completion of the project, you need to show your understanding of the Programme 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 has close ties with the UCL Urban Lab and the Global Urbanisms group in UCL Geography.

Core staff 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

Fees and scholarships information can be found on the main UCL website.

MSc Urban Studies is a central training programme for the Urban Studies, Transport and Architectural Space pathway of the UBEL ESRC DTP.

If you have not yet completed an ESRC recognised programme, there are opportunities available for 1+3 PhD awards* including the MSc Urban Studies.

You will need to develop a proposal by the December before your intended start of study in September if you want to take this route.

*1+3 provides funding for a one-year research training postgraduate course linked to a four year PhD (of which the first three years are funded)

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

    Prospective students need a First or Upper Second-Class Honours degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

    The course is suited not only to students from a particular academic background but those with intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for studying and researching cities and urban life across a broad range of disciplines.

    Full-time students take four modules (worth 60 credits) in both terms 1 (September to December) and term 2 (January to March). Part-time students usually take two modules each term across two years. The modular (or flexible) option can be used to tailor your module selection over 2-5 years.

    Full entry requirements and tuition fee information can be found on the UCL Graduate Prospectus.

    International applicants will need a Level 4 or equivalent recognised English language qualification. Visit the UCL Graduate pages for information on UCL’s English Language Requirements.

    Please email the Department or programme convener Dr Andrew Harris if you have any questions or would like to make an appointment to meet staff.

    Through this Programme, you will improve the knowledge and skills you need for a career in academia, public and private research as well as commercial and professional fields where you will need an advanced understanding of cities and urban change.

    Our graduates have found work in a wide range of sectors, including:

    • Municipal and local government
    • Urban political organisations
    • Art consultancies
    • Financial services
    • Social enterprise companies
    • Cultural institutions
    • Community development organisations
    • Think tanks

    We have a proud record of students continuing on to funded PhDs, including at:

    • UCL (Geography, the Development Planning Unit, Planning, CASA and Architectural Design)
    • The University of Zurich
    • The Open University
    • The London School of Economics
    • The University of Cambridge
    • King's College, London
    • Universidade do Porto
    • Harvard University
    • Humboldt University of Berlin
    • Berlin Institute of Technology
    • The University of Oxford
    • The University of Minnesota).

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