MSc in Sustainable Urban Development
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.
Attention is paid to the intellectual history of sustainable urban development, its current and future applications and practice, and the contemporary relevance of research to sustainable urban policy and practice across cities of the Global North and South.
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 MSc is designed for those working in a range of urban contexts worldwide - public, private or third sector organisations - and fosters collaboration, creativity, perspective-sharing and effective networking skills. The programme runs in partnership 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 by tutors from institutes and departments across the University of Oxford, and in collaboration with comprehensive range of commercial, governmental and non-government organisations specialising in sustainable urban development
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. More information can be found in the Course Handbook.
Role: Acting Course Director and Departmental Lecturer
Keywords: Transport infrastructure, mobilities, social inequalities and development planning
Role: Associate Professor
Keywords: African urbanization, urban planning and governance, energy infrastructure, urban theory.
Keywords: Latin American and Caribbean urbanization, social sustainability, housing and urban livelihoods.
Dr Nigel Mehdi
Role: Departmental Lecturer
Keywords: Economics of sustainability, urban economics, real estate markets, smart cities and big data.
Role: Associate Professor
Keywords: International and transnational migration and cities, international education and student mobilities.
Mr Ben Bolgar
Keywords: Eco towns, green buildings, placemaking, urban regeneration, traditional urbanism and rapid urbanisation
Dr Matthew Hardy
Keywords: Sustainable urbanism, urban resilience, European architectural history and climate
The over-arching aim of the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development (MSUD) reflects that of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, namely to provide students with a systematic understanding of core areas and advanced topics in sustainable urban development, the ability to evaluate empirical or primary evidence critically, and the conceptual understanding to marshal and present arguments and solutions based on primary data, theory and/or the application of sound reasoning.
More specifically, the MSUD aims to provide students with:
- a rigorous and intellectually-demanding education in the field of sustainable urban development;
- a multidisciplinary structure that engages with world-leading research to the benefit of students’ professional practice;
- an international understanding and knowledge of sustainable urban development;
- an engagement with the academic excellence of the University of Oxford and the practical and research experience of the PFBC.
For each teaching week, you will complete an essay of up to 3,000 words on that theme. The first essay is formative and will provide you with valuable feedback at the start of your studies. The remaining seven essay assignments are summative.
You will also submit a research dissertation of up to 15,000 words. It is expected that you will define your own dissertation topic in consultation with your allocated supervisor. Training in research skills is built into the course delivery, in order to help you make the most of this opportunity.
This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.
The Department offers a full residential and catering facility, with a range of both 3 and 4-star campus accommodation. 'Number 12', right next to Rewley House, offers 9 superior en-suite bedrooms.
Accommodation costs are not included in course fees. All students can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme. See the Facilities and Services pages for more detail.
The MSc is comprised of five teaching weeks in Year 1 and three teaching weeks plus a dissertation in Year 2, for each year of registration an Annual Award fee (Course Fee) is also due. Please see the Fees and funding site for more information on how modular fees are calculated. Fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the programme.
All fees are inclusive of college fees. All fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the programme.
The course expects to offer annual payment plans of three or seven instalments, with the first instalment due prior to the first teaching week and the final payment due before the following Easter.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support