MSc in Sustainable Urban Development

Course details

In 2020 the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development celebrated its tenth anniversary. Over the past 10 years, more than 190 students and alumni have been part of the programme, from over 55 countries worldwide.

The MSc in Sustainable Urban Development is a part-time course taken over two years, and is designed to suit those working in a range of urban contexts worldwide. The course provides a rigorous and critical understanding of the theory, policy and practice of sustainable urban development.

Students engage with 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 the contemporary relevance of research to sustainable urban policy and practice across the world.

The course is delivered over eight intensive residential teaching weeks, six in Oxford and two in London. Students also undertake independent study and complete written assignments, including a 15,000-word research dissertation on a chosen topic.

Tutors from within the Department and from across the University of Oxford deliver this course in collaboration with experts and practitioners from a range of commercial, governmental and non-government organisations specialising in sustainable urban development. The programme runs in partnership with The Prince's Foundation, and is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Online open event: Thursday 3 November 2022

Join us on Thursday 3 November 2022, from 1.30-2.30pm (UK time) for a virtual open event. This will give you the chance to meet the team, discover more about our part-time graduate courses in Sustainable Urban Development, and have your questions answered.

Find out more and register

Quick links

Who is this course for?

The MSc is designed for those working in a range of urban contexts worldwide, whether in public, private or third sector organisations. Students are able to combine postgraduate study with their professional lives. The course attracts a lively and engaged group of students, who come from a wide range of countries and share a variety of work experiences in urban development and the built environment. The course fosters collaboration, creativity, perspective-sharing and networking skills. There is also an active alumni network.

Watch this short video where students describe their experiences on the MSc course:

The course in detail

How you will study

The course is delivered through a mix of teaching and learning methods, including seminars, site visits, peer review, group 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, and you should expect to spend an average of 20 hours per week on independent study.

You will be allocated a course tutor who will support your academic development, and who you will meet during each teaching week. In the second year, you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor from the course team. All students also have a college advisor whom you may consult on issues concerning your personal wellbeing.

Course aims

The course aims 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
  • the conceptual understanding to marshal and present arguments and solutions based on data, theory and the application of sound reasoning. 

Course content and structure

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. Six of these eight teaching weeks are held in Oxford at the Department for Continuing Education The remaining two are held at the offices of The Prince's Foundation in London. Each week addresses a core theme of the course.

Year 1

  • Introducing Sustainable Urban Development (Oxford)
  • Climate Change and the Built Environment (Oxford)
  • Place-making and Urban Design (London)
  • Financing Sustainability (Oxford)
  • Sustainable Transport (Oxford)

Year 2

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

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.


For each teaching week, you will complete a 3,000 word essay on that theme. The first essay is formative and will provide you with feedback at the start of your studies. The remaining seven essay assignments are summative and count towards your MSc assessment.

You will spend the latter half of the second year concentrating on a 15,000-word research dissertation. You will define your own dissertation topic over the first year with the guidance of your course tutor. Training in research skills is built into the course delivery, in order to help you make the most of this opportunity.

Associated organisations

The programme runs in partnership with The Prince's Foundation, and is an accredited course within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors University Partnership.

Teaching staff

Course Director

Dr Nigel Mehdi

Role: Course Director and Departmental Lecturer

Keywords: Economics of sustainability; urban economics; real estate markets, smart cities and big data.


Other teaching staff

Dr Nihan Akyelken

Role: Associate Professor

Keywords: Transport and mobility; inequalities and development planning; infrastructure investments; labour markets and urban accessibility; urban and regional political economy and governance.


Dr Idalina Baptista

Role: Associate Professor

Keywords: African urbanization; urban planning and governance; energy infrastructure; urban theory.


Dr Patricia Canelas

Role: Departmental Lecturer

Keywords: Planning and governance; real estate; place-making.


Dr Debbie Hopkins

Role: Associate Professor

Keywords: Transport and mobilities; sustainable tourism; low carbon transitions; work and labour; infrastructures; energy systems.


Dr David Howard

Role: Director of Studies and Associate Professor

Keywords: Latin American and Caribbean urbanization; social sustainability; housing and urban livelihoods.


Dr Vlad Mykhnenko

Role: Associate Professor

Keywords: Urban and regional economies; shrinking cities; resilience; economic convergence, divergence and territorial cohesion; fiscal federalism, devolution and local government finance.


Mr Ben Bolgar

Role: Tutor

Keywords: Eco towns; green buildings; placemaking; urban regeneration; traditional urbanism and rapid urbanisation.


Dr Matthew Hardy

Role: Tutor

Keywords: Sustainable urbanism; urban resilience; European architectural history and climate.


IT requirements

This course uses the University’s online learning platform and the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to access course materials and 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.

Fees and funding

Fee rates for the academic year 2022-23

These rates (in pounds sterling) are for students joining in the 2022-23 academic year and will increase annually.

An Annual Award Fee is due for every academic year (or part-year) attended, and there is a minimum of two Annual Award Fees payable. Module or Dissertation Fees are payable in advance as invoiced. A Module Fee is payable in respect of each teaching week. The Dissertation Fee is comprised of three Module Fees. Fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the programme.

  • Annual award fee: £9,495
  • Module fee: £2,090
  • Dissertation fee: £6,270

Illustration for full programme (completing in two years, with eight teaching weeks and a dissertation):

Year 1:

Annual Award Fee: £9,495*

Plus 5 Module Fees: £10,450*

Total Year 1: £19,945

Year 2:

Annual Award Fee: £9,495*

plus 3 Module Fees: £6,270*

plus Dissertation Fee: £6,270*

Total Year 2: £22,035*

Total= £41,980*


  1. The fee rates listed are for the academic year shown, and you should be aware that these rates will increase annually.
  2. The Illustration is based on the fee rates for the academic year shown; however, fee rates for attendance in future years will increase, so students attending for more than one year should expect the total to be higher than is shown in the Illustration. The exact amount will depend on the fee rates set annually, and upon the years you are in attendance; these are normally published well before the start of each academic year, but for your own budgetary purposes you may wish to estimate a 6% annual increase on fee rates.
  3. MSc students are matriculated and are full members of the Collegiate University.


Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our Fees and Funding page.

The MSc Sustainable Urban Development Programme Scholarship is open to anyone applying for the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development.

How to apply

For entry requirements, selection criteria and how to apply please visit Graduate Admissions website.

Contact information

For further information about the course, please contact us by email at