Programmes

MSc City Design and Social Science

  • Graduate taught
  • Department of Sociology
  • Application code L4UC
  • Starting 2018

The MSc City Design and Social Science focuses on the relations between the physical and social organisation of cities and urban environments.

We see design as a field of research, knowledge and practice that shapes urban environments, responds to urban problems, and integrates social, spatial and physical approaches to the city. This ground-breaking programme was launched in 1998. It supports the development of interdisciplinary professionals who can work across professional divides to have a positive impact on cities as both social and built environments. 

This innovative, interdisciplinary programme sets the complex challenges of city design and development in their social, economic, environmental and political contexts. It is unique as a studio-based master’s with a strong orientation to practice. The programme attracts students from different academic and professional backgrounds, reflecting the range of skills involved in urban policy, design and development today. Each year, around 40 per cent of our student intake comes from architecture, urban design, planning or engineering, with around 60 per cent coming from backgrounds in social, economic and management science, law, humanities and the natural sciences.

You will leave the programme with a well-rounded set of research, analytical and practical skills for the design, development and implementation of urban projects across the public, private and community sectors, and the ability to work creatively and effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

Programme details

Key facts

MSc City Design and Social Science 
Start date 27 September 2018
Application deadline None – rolling admissions. However please note the funding deadline
Duration 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
Applications 2016 142
Intake 2016 22
Availability UK/EU: Open from October
Overseas: Open from October
Tuition fee UK/EU: £26,976
Overseas: £27,504
Financial support Graduate support scheme (deadline 26 April 2018)
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 degree or equivalent, or professional qualifications/experience in any relevant field of architecture, urban design, planning, engineering, social science, law and humanities, management, mathematics, statistics or natural science
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Higher (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

You will take four compulsory courses including a core studio workshop, taught courses on critical urban theories and issues, and options chosen from the suite of urban courses taught across LSE. You will also undertake an independent project under faculty supervision. 

Guest practitioners from industry, expert speakers and masterclasses on key urban issues complement the core academic programme, and you will be linked into the wealth of urban expertise across LSE. 

An international field-trip supports and extends your intensive teaching programme in London. 

(* denotes half unit)

City Design: Research Studio 
Promotes an understanding of the city as a social and built environment and provides you with an appreciation of the complexities of urban design and development processes through in-depth research and project work on a critical site in London. 

Courses to the value of one unit from the following:
Cities by Design
*
Examines the relationship between built form and its social, political and cultural impacts in the changing city.
City-making: the Politics of Urban Form*
Provides a critical understanding of the political underpinnings of major urban development projects and practices across international city contexts. 
Urban Social Theory*
Provides a comprehensive introduction to urban social theory.

Independent Project
Allows you to work on an extended research or design project in consultation with a faculty supervisor.  

Courses to the value of one unit from a range of options


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.

Teaching and assessment

Contact hours and independent study

Within your programme you will take a number of courses, often including half unit courses and full unit courses. In half unit courses, on average, you can expect 20-30 contact hours in total and for full unit courses, on average, you can expect 40-60 contact hours in total. This includes sessions such as lectures, classes, seminars or workshops. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the  Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.

Teaching methods

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, associate professors and professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers and visiting members of staff, LSE teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants who are usually doctoral research students and in the majority of cases, teach on undergraduate courses only. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.

Assessment

All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others. Summative assessment may be conducted during the course or by final examination at the end of the course. An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Academic support

You will also be assigned an academic adviser who will be available for guidance and advice on academic or personal concerns.

There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.

 

Preliminary reading

Selected preparatory reading. These books are available in the LSE Library. 

By Cities Programme authors

R Burdett and D Sudjic The Endless City (Phaidon, 2007)

R Burdett and D Sudjic Living in the Endless City (Phaidon, 2011)

S Hall and R Burdett The Sage Handbook of the 21st Century City (available in September 2017)

S Hall City Street and Citizen: the measure of the ordinary (Routledge, 2012)

D Madden and P Marcuse In Defense of Housing: the politics of crisis (Verso, 2016)

F Tonkiss Space, the City and Social Theory (Polity Press, 2006)

F Tonkiss Cities by Design: the social life of urban form (Polity, 2013)

General preparatory reading

M Carmona, T Heath and S Tiesdell and T Oc Public Places Urban Spaces: the dimensions of urban design (Routledge, 2010) 

M Larice and E Macdonal (eds) (2012) The Urban Design Reader (Routledge, 2012)

R T Le Gates and F Stout The City Reader (Routledge, 2011)

Careers

Graduates from this programme find international career opportunities across the urban design, planning and development fields in the private, public and community sectors – as designers and planners, project managers and consultants, researchers and entrepreneurs. A vibrant alumni network offers guidance and support for current students and recent graduates.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

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.

Student stories

Carlo Castelli

MSc City Design and Social Science (2010-2011)
Director - Strategic Planning and Design (Cities - London UK), AECOM

Carlo-Castelli170x230

The Cities Programme is certainly a place of academic excellence but is first and foremost a place of encounter of great individuals and friends.

Jacob Brown

MSc City Design and Social Science (2012-13)
PhD student, Government and Social Policy, Harvard

Jacob-Brown270x230

I cannot say enough good things about the CDSS program. I really appreciated how the program provided a holistic academic framework that we could use to study cities in the ways that best suited us. I was able to take the analysis techniques and ideas we learned about in the program and apply them to my research on ethnic conflict and racial politics within the urban environment. Meanwhile, my peers examined cities through completely different angles, whether it be through looking at planning, sustainability, or architecture.

I think the greatest strength of the program is that all of these perspectives complement each other without one perspective dominating the discourse. I used to joke that if you talked to two different CDSS students that you could come away with drastically different ideas of what the program is about. This I consider an immense compliment.


Bethania Soriano

MSc City Design and Social Science (2011-12)
Consultant at Turnberry Consulting Ltd (development strategy and urban planning

I would like to thank (my teachers) for a terrific year and a great experience with the programme! Reflecting back on the master's, I definitely feel I was exposed to a new wonderful world of social theories. I broadened my skill set, learned to write passably (such a challenge for an architect!), and to listen and negotiate different positions. I also learned how to think strategically about urban interventions. All in all, thank you for opening these doors!

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitable qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background.

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 predicted and achieved grades)
- personal statement
- two academic references
- CV

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements.

When to apply

Applications for this programme are considered on a rolling basis, meaning the programme will close once it becomes full. There is no fixed deadline by which you need to apply, 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 MSc City Design and Social Science 

Upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent professional qualifications or experience in any relevant field of architecture, urban design, planning, engineering, social science, law and humanities, management, mathematics, statistics or natural science.

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

See international entry requirements

Fees and funding

Every graduate 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 MSc City Design and Social Science 

UK/EU students: £26,976
Overseas students: £27,504

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 

Fee reductions and rewards

Students who completed undergraduate study at LSE and are beginning taught graduate study at the School are eligible for a fee reduction of around 10 per cent of the fee.

Please refer to the Fees Office website for updates.

Scholarships 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, EU and overseas.

This programme is eligible for needs-based awards from LSE, including the Graduate Support SchemeMaster's Awards, and Anniversary Scholarships

Selection for any funding opportunity is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline. 
Funding deadline for needs-based awards from LSE: 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

Government tuition fee loans and external funding

A postgraduate loan is available from the UK government for eligible students studying for a first master’s programme, to help with fees and living costs. Some other governments and organisations also offer tuition fee loan schemes.

Find out more about tuition fee loans
Find out more about external funding opportunities

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