MSC in Sustainable Urban Development

By 2030, more than 60% of the world's population will live in cities. Our MSc with Oxford University teaches the next generation of urban planners the skills they need to meet this challenge.

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Level: Postgraduate

Start date: October 2017

Duration: Two years, part-time

Overview: The two-year MSc in Sustainable Urban Development will provide you with a rigorous and critical introduction to the policy and practice of sustainable urban development. The course exposes students to sustainable urbanism as both an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary subject at global and local scales.


The programme attracts a lively and engaged group of students, who combine postgraduate study with their professional lives, and an active alumni network. Students on the course come from a wide international background and share a variety of work experiences in urban development and the built environment. The programme benefits from a close collaboration with the Prince's Foundation for Building Community, and is an accredited course within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors University Partnership.

The course is delivered through a mix of tailored teaching and learning methods, including seminars, site visits, peer-review, research workshops and tutorials. Classes are seminar-based, encouraging active participation and enabling students to learn from each other. You will prepare for sessions by reading a selection of recommended books, book chapters and articles. Typically, there are six to eight weeks between each teaching week, during which time you should expect to spend an average of 15 hours per week of independent study.

You will be allocated a course supervisor who will support your academic development, and with whom you will meet during each teaching week for a tutorial. In the second year, you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor. Where dissertation supervision requires expertise that is not available among the core staff, an additional dissertation supervisor will be identified. You will also have a college advisor whom you may consult on issues concerning your personal wellbeing.

The course comprises four elements:

  • core themes
  • urban theory
  • research methods
  • the dissertation

You will attend eight intensive residential teaching weeks during the two years of study. Two of these eight teaching weeks are held at the offices of the Prince's Foundation for Building Community in London. The remaining six are held in Oxford at the Department for Continuing Education. Each module addresses a core theme of the course.

In the first year, you will study five interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teaching weeks:

  • Concepts of the City and Environmental Change
  • Climate Change and the Built Environment
  • Place-making and Urban Design
  • Financing Sustainability
  • Sustainable Transport

During teaching weeks, you will also follow foundation courses in urban theory and research methods tailored to sustainable urban development, comprising sessions on the intellectual history of sustainable urbanism, paradigm shifts and challenges in sustainable development, urban economics, research design, research ethics and preparation, bibliography and library resources.

In the second year, you will study three interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teaching weeks:

  • Urbanism, Community and City-Building
  • Urbanisation in the Global South
  • Leadership, Governance and Future Cities

You will spend the latter half of the second year working on a 15,000-word dissertation. You will choose the topic, with the guidance of your supervisor, and, in most cases, spend time doing fieldwork and gathering data during this period.


For detailed information on scholarships, applications, entry requirements, and how to apply to the programme, please visit:

Course related enquiries may also be directed to:


Tel: +44 (0)1865 286952