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Department of

Geography & Environment
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE


Programme Administrator

Mark Jenkin


Programme Director:
Professor Sylvia Chant

Room Number: STC 4.17a
St Clements Building, LSE



MSc Urbanisation and Development

At a time when three quarters of the world's urban population, ninety per cent of urban population growth, and poverty and social exclusion are increasingly concentrated in towns and cities in developing regions it is vital that we understand the theoretical and empirical relationships between urbanisation, urbanism and development. The programme reviews urbanism from colonial to the contemporary period, emphasising demographic, social, economic, cultural and political processes. The programme pays particular attention to the aims and achievements of contemporary policy with reference to housing and land markets, finance, gender, governance, the role of global development institutions and non-governmental organisations.

The programme attempts to provide a conceptual and empirical basis from which to understand urban 'problems' and critically evaluate prescribed 'solutions'. Students will develop an understanding of how urban and development theory have changed over time, and how these theories combine and conflict in their application to real world situations. Students will be encouraged to appreciate how a wide range of policy intentions and outcomes can be evaluated from economic, social, political and cultural perspectives, from international to local scales, and in ways sensitive to concerns for gender, ethnicity, social justice and democratic deepening.

> Entry requirements and programme overview

> Course options and content

The students

This programme is intended for graduates with a good first degree in geography, development, sociology, planning, anthropology or any discipline with a substantive urban or development studies component. The Department also encourages applications from mature candidates with work experience.  The MSc in Urbanisation and Development, which can be taken full-time (one year) or part-time (two years), is expected to be attractive to students seeking future employment in academic institutions, programme and policy positions in international agencies (World Bank, UN), bi-laterals (DfID), NGOs and private consultancies, and governments in developing countries.

Apply now.

Staff, students and alumni discuss the MSc Urbanisation and Development at LSE, what makes it relevant today, and why it is such an exciting opportunity for outstanding applicants: 

Professor Sylvia Chant is a founder member and current Director of the MSc Urbanisation and Development. She teaches on the core course Urban Theory and Policy in the Global South, and offers two half-unit options - Cities, People and Poverty in the South, and Gender and Development. Along with all other staff members involved in the MSc Urbanisation and Development, Sylvia also contributes to the core course Urban Research Methods.

Sylvia's country-focused and comparative research has been based on in-depth (and longitudinal) fieldwork in urban areas of Mexico, Costa Rica, Philippines and The Gambia with particular reference to issues of gender, poverty, migration, housing, employment and household livelihoods.

For more about Sylvia see her profile page.

Ryan CentnerDr Ryan Centner  is an urban and development scholar. Before joining LSE he was Assistant Professor at Tufts University, near Boston, 2008-2013, where he lectured and advised in Sociology, International Relations, Urban and Environmental Planning, and Latin American Studies. Ryan contributes to the core course Urban Theory and Policy in the Global South, and teaches a half-unit option on Urban Revolutions.

For more about Ryan see his profile page.

Professor Gareth A Jones is co-founder and former Director of the MSc Urbanisation and Development and is the main contributor to the core course Urban Theory and Policy in the Global South. His other teaching includes the half-unit Urban Ethnography

Gareth has undertaken consultancies for a variety of organisations including the UN and DFID.

For more about Gareth see his profile page.

Claire MercerDr Claire Mercer has conducted research on the politics of development and civil society, looking in particular at NGOs, participation and empowerment; PRSPs, ICTs and migrants' associations. She has worked in Tanzania, Cameroon, and the UK. Claire offers a half-unit option to MSc Urbanisation and Development on Global Migration and Development.

For more about Claire see her profile page

ShinHDr Hyun Bang Shin is the convenor of the core course Urban Research Methods, and offers two new half-unit optional courses:  Cities and Social Change in East Asia and Remaking China. Hyun has worked mostly on East Asia, carrying out field research in cities such as Beijing, Tianjin and Xining in China and Seoul in South Korea.

For more about Hyun see his profile page.

Romola SanyalDr Romola Sanyal  joined the Department of Geography and Environment in 2013, having worked previously at University College London, Newcastle University and Rice University (USA). She has a PhD in Architecture (UC Berkeley), an MSc in Geography (LSE) and a BA in City and Regional Planning (UC Berkeley).

Her research focuses on urbanisation and urban theory in the Global North and South, particularly around issues of citizenship and space, and she teaches a half-unit option on the Politics of Housing.

For more about Romola see her profile page.

Austin ZeidermanDr Austin Zeiderman is an interdisciplinary scholar who specialises in the cultural and political dimensions of cities, with a specific focus on Latin America. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University as well as a Master of Environmental Science from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Colgate University.

Austin’s research adopts an ethnographic and historical approach to contemporary forms of urbanism. He is particularly interested in how cities are planned, built, governed and inhabited in anticipation of uncertain futures. 

Austin teaches a half-unit option on Urban Futures.

For more about Austin see his profile page.


Graduates of the Department have excellent career prospects. The recent data shows that 6 months after graduation Department of Geography & Environment MSc students achieved an average starting salary of £26,600, with 93% engaged in employment or further education. LSE produces outstanding graduates, and you can be sure that choosing to study with us will shape your future.


These statistics are taken from the DLHE (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education) survey, overseen by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for the UK Government and sample at least 80% of UK graduates and at least 50% of non-UK graduates.