MPhil/PhD Regional and Urban Planning Studies

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Geography and Environment
  • Application code L8ZR
  • Starting 2018

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the social scientific study of urban planning. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

The MPhil/ PhD in Regional and Urban Planning Studies is part of a vibrant, innovative and interdisciplinary graduate training programme that addresses the opportunities, problems, politics and economics of urban and regional planning in cities around the world. Our emphasis is on “understanding the causes of things”, to quote the School’s motto. We do this by employing analytical skills and theoretical insights gained from the social sciences and the fields of planning, architecture, economics and the environment.

Our programme aims to produce top-quality social scientists who are able to engage with the conceptual foundations of urban planning and employ robust and appropriate methods in their research.

Programme details

Key facts

MPhil/PhD Regional and Urban Planning
Start date 27 September 2018
Application deadline 26 April 2018. However please note the funding deadlines
Duration Three to four years (minimum two) full-time
Availability UK/EU: Open 
Overseas: Open 
Tuition fee UK/EU: £4,299 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas: £17,904 (for the first year)
Financial support LSE PhD Studentships (deadline 8 January 2018 and 26 April 2018)
ESRC funding (+3 and 1+3) (deadline 8 January 2018)
Minimum entry requirement Taught master’s degree, with a minimum of 65 per cent average and at least 70 in dissertation, in a related discipline
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Research (see 'assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Programme structure and courses

In addition to progressing with your research, you are expected to take the listed training and transferable skills courses. You may take courses in addition to those listed, and should discuss this with your supervisor.

(* denotes a half unit)

First year

Training courses

Compulsory (not examined)

Planning Practice and Research or Staff/Research Students Seminar
Provides background sessions for MPhil/PhD students in their first year of study. It also provides the forum in which first year full-time and second year part-time MPhil/PhD students must present their work in advance of submitting their major review documents.

Compulsory (examined)
Courses to the value of one unit from the list of options on the relevant MSc degrees

Relevant advanced research method courses to the value of one unit from the following:
Applied Quantitative Methods*
Techniques of Spatial Economic Analysis*
Fundamentals of Social Science Research Design*

Examines the broad range of design options and to foster an appreciation of these alternatives for particular research objectives.  Drawing on a variety of examples from the social scientific literature, this course will explore design considerations and options across quantitative and qualitative research, including issues of data quality, analysis, reporting and reproducibility.
Qualitative Research Methods*
This course presents the fundamentals of qualitative research methods. It prepares students to design, carry out, report, read and evaluate qualitative research projects. Students learn how to collect data using methods including interviewing, focus groups, participant observation, and documentary and historical work.
Doing Ethnography*
Examines how social order is produced as people go about their everyday interactions. Multiple sources of naturally-occurring data are used to understand how communities, organisations and institutions work, informally as well as formally.
Non-Traditional Data: New Dimensions in Qualitative Research*
Special Topics in Qualitative Research: Introspection-based Methods in Social Research*
Survey Methodology*
Causal Inference for Observational and Experimental Studies*
Special Topics in Quantitative Analysis: Quantitative Text Analysis*

Transferable skills courses

Compulsory (not examined)

Research Project Seminar
Presentations by research students of aspects of their own research, stressing problems of theory, methodology and techniques.

Second year

Training courses

Compulsory (not examined)
Staff / Research Students Seminars
Provides background sessions for MPhil/PhD students in their first year of study. It also provides the forum in which first year full-time and second year part-time MPhil/PhD students must present their work in advance of submitting their major review documents. 

Transferable skills courses

Compulsory (not examined)
Research Project Seminar
Presentations by research students of aspects of their own research, stressing problems of theory, methodology and techniques. 

Third year

Training courses

Compulsory (not examined)
Staff / Research Students Seminars
Provides background sessions for MPhil/PhD students in their first year of study. It also provides the forum in which first year full-time and second year part-time MPhil/PhD students must present their work in advance of submitting their major review documents. 

Transferable skills courses

Compulsory (not examined)
Research Project Seminar
Presentations by research students of aspects of their own research, stressing problems of theory, methodology and techniques. 

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar. 

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises. 

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page.

Supervision, progression and assessment


You will either be allocated a principal supervisor and a review supervisor, or two joint supervisors. One or both will be specialist in your chosen research field, though not necessarily in your topic. The Department encourages – whenever possible – joint-supervision arrangements. However, please confirm your supervisory arrangements during your first meeting with your supervisor(s).

Joint supervisors will have a joint leading role throughout your studies, and you will be able to meet them separately or jointly. Students with a main and a review supervisor should be aware that the main supervisor will have a leading supervisory role during the doctoral studies, whereas the review supervisor will be involved less frequently, being primarily responsible for progress monitoring and participating in review and upgrading decisions (see below). However, please keep your review supervisor abreast of your progress throughout the year and discuss with him/her any matters arising as soon as possible.

Progression and assessment

Students on the MPhil/PhD programme will go through a First Year Progress Review, taking place in the Summer Term of your first research year. For the First Year Progress Review, you submit a written progress report containing an extensive and updated research proposal (typically including an introduction to the topic and motivation for the research; aims and objectives/research questions; contribution to knowledge; summary of methods to be used; and outline of the work to be done) and either a comprehensive literature review or a substantive draft of a chapter/paper as evidence of progress made during the year. Normally, there will be a progress review meeting between you and your supervisors to discuss the written material presented. The work has to reach an acceptable standard to enable you to progress to the second year.

There is provision for a second Supplementary Review, in cases where there are doubts as to whether progress has been sufficient to allow you to enter the second year. Progression to the second year is also dependent on you having passed all required examinations and obtained at least one merit, and having presented your work satisfactorily in the doctoral presentation workshops.

Research students are initially registered for an MPhil and have to be upgraded to PhD status. The upgrade from MPhil to PhD usually occurs during the second year of full-time registration. The exact timing depends on your progress. You are required to submit a formal written upgrade report consisting of an extensive revised research proposal, two substantive draft papers/chapters, of which one can be a literature review, and a detailed plan for completion. The material is evaluated by an upgrading committee that will recommend transferral to PhD registration if the work is judged to be of sufficient quality and quantity. The upgrading committee is normally formed by your main supervisor, your review supervisor and a third member of staff with relevant expertise. The upgrade is also dependent on your having completed all required training courses and having made a satisfactory research presentation in your doctoral presentation workshop.

In addition to these formal arrangements, each year during the Summer Term and throughout the course of their studies, all PhD students and their supervisors have to complete a yearly Progress Report Form, detailing progress made, problems arising and plan/timeline for completion. The forms are sent to the relevant Doctoral Programme Director for approval before you are able to re-register for the following session. If perceived lack of progress is identified, it can trigger a more formal annual review of progress in which you are asked to produce specific written documents to be evaluated by a review panel.


We prepare students for a variety of careers in academia, international organisations (eg the World Bank, OECD, UNEP, European Commission), urban planning, community development, NGOs and national and local governmental institutions.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Enrico Orru

MPhil/PhD Regional and Urban Planning Studies

Enrico Orru 170x230

My PhD allowed me to achieve a more comprehensive and critical understanding of the main issues underlying my field of work and to gain strong methodological and analytical skills. After my PhD I've published in journals such as Papers in Regional Science and The Annals of Regional Science. I've worked for the President of the Italian region Sardinia, by providing advice and support in education, labour markets, innovation and regional economic development. Since 2015 I have been working as a research consultant for Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions).

Sabina Uffer

MPhil/PhD Regional and Urban Planning Studies

Sabina Uffer P170x230

My PhD focused on the effects of a changing housing strategy on Berlin's urban development. During my research, I worked at LSE Cities on the project Resilient Urban Form and Governance, conducting comparative research on residential and commercial real estate in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Paris, London, and Berlin; and I taught research methodology in social science.

Now, I'm head of research for the Cities team at BuroHappold, undertaking projects at the intersection of urban development and infrastructure planning with an emphasis on housing, transportation, and waste. My expertise lies in developing and executing research projects and policy analysis around national and local urban issues in the US, the UK, Germany, and Switzerland. 

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers

Assessing your application

We welcome applications for research programmes that complement the academic interests of members of staff at the School, and we recommend that you investigate staff research interests before applying.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications)
- personal statement
- references
- CV
- outline research proposal
- sample of written work.

 See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do. See our English language requirements for further information.

When to apply

The application deadline for this programme is 26 April 2018. However to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Minimum entry requirements for MPhil/PhD Regional and Urban Planning

The programme is offered in the following alternative formats:

Either the standalone MPhil/PhD in Regional and Urban Planning (+3 route)

Or Combined with the MSc Regional and Urban Planning Studies progressing onto the MPhil/PhD in Regional and Urban Planning (1+3 route)

+3 Route: MPhil/PhD in Regional and Urban Planning (2-4 years)

The minimum entry requirement for this programme is a taught master’s degree (or equivalent), with a minimum of 65 per cent average and at least 70 in the dissertation, in a related discipline.

1+3 Route: MSc Regional and Urban Planning Studies (1 year) + MPhil/PhD in Regional and Urban Planning (2-4 years)

The 1+3 route is suitable for those individuals who do not hold a relevant postgraduate degree and is aimed at students graduating with an undergraduate degree in a relevant social science subject. (See entrance requirements for the MSc in Regional and Urban Planning Studies)

The 1+3 Combined PhD Programme is only available as part of an ESRC Funded pathway (EU Applicants only). The 1+3 scheme provides funding for a one year research training master's linked to a PhD programme and is designed for students who have not already completed an ESRC recognised programme of research training. The ESRC 1+3 scholarship covers the Master’s and the PhD programme and so takes up to 5 years in total. Progression from the Master’s onto the PhD programme is dependent upon performance in the Master’s programme (Students must score 65% overall and at least 70 in their dissertation to comply with the department’s usual PhD entry criteria).

To apply for the 1+3 route, an application must be submitted for the relevant Master’s programme, including a research proposal for the PhD aspect of the pathway. Applicants must also indicate their wish to be considered for the 1+3 pathway and associated funding within their personal statement. Students who apply for the PhD programme directly, will not be considered for the 1+3 pathway.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

See international entry requirements 

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee for their programme. The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2018/19 for MPhil/PhD Regional and Urban Planning

UK/EU students: £4,299 (for the first year) - provisional
Overseas students: £17,904 (for the first year)

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges UK/EU research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (ie, 4 per cent per annum).

Fee status

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide over £11.5 million in scholarships each year to graduate students from the UK, the EU and outside the EU.

This programme is eligible for LSE PhD Studentships, and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding. Selection for the PhD Studentships and ESRC funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.

Funding deadline for LSE PhD Studentships and ESRC funding: 8 January 2018.
Second funding deadline for LSE PhD Studentships: 26 April 2018. 

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. 

Check the latest information about scholarship opportunities

External funding 

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well.

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