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MSc City Design and Social Science

About the MSc programme

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 located within a world-leading social science institution. The programme draws students from different academic and professional backgrounds, reflecting the range of skills involved in urban policy, design and development today: architecture, engineering, planning and transport studies; economic, social and policy sciences; geography and environmental science; law and humanities; business and management; real estate and finance. Candidates should have a good first degree, or equivalent professional qualifications in a relevant field; professional and voluntary experience will also be taken fully into account. 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.

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, launched in 1998, aims to support the development of interdisciplinary professionals who can work across professional divides to have a positive impact on cities as both social and built environments. Graduates 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

The programme combines intensive design research on practical urban contexts in the core studio workshop, with taught courses on critical urban theories and issues, and options chosen from the suite of urban courses taught across LSE. Students undertake an independent project under faculty supervision. An international field-trip supports and extends the students' intensive teaching programme in London.

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

Compulsory courses

(* half unit)

  • City Design Research Studio promotes an understanding of the city as a social and built environment and provides students 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.
  • 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.
  • Independent Project allows students to work on an extended research or design project in consultation with a faculty supervisor.  

Students will be expected to choose courses to the value of one unit from a range of options.

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses for MSc City Design and Social Science 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, some circumstances may cause the School to subsequently change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. 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 circumstances outside of its control. You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee places on its courses. 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.

Graduate destinations

Graduates from the programme find international career opportunities across the urban design, planning and development fields in the public, private 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. 



Application code: L4UC (check availability)

Start date:  22 September 2016

Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time 

Intake/applications in 2014: 22/94

Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 degree or equivalent professional qualifications/experience in any relevant field of architecture, urban design, planning, engineering, social science, law and humanities, management, mathematics, statistics or natural science (see entry requirements)

English requirement: Standard (see English requirements)

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: UK/EU £24,936; overseas £25,440

Financial support: Graduate Support Scheme (see Fees and financial support)

Application deadline: None

A photo of Alex Feldman, an LSE student