MSc Urbanisation and Development

  • Graduate taught
  • Department of Geography and Environment
  • Application code L8U6
  • Starting 2020
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • UK/EU part-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Overseas part-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

The MSc Urbanisation and Development reviews urbanism from colonial to contemporary periods, emphasising demographic, social, economic, cultural and political processes.

At a time when three-quarters of the world's urban population, and over 90 per cent of future urban population growth, will be in the developing world, it is vital we understand the relationships between urban and development issues from both theoretical and empirical standpoints. This programme pays particular attention to the origins and claims of development theory and practice, and the aims and achievements of contemporary urban policy from a wide variety of thematic and theoretical perspectives.

The programme attempts to provide a conceptual and empirical basis from which to understand urban problems and critically evaluate prescribed solutions. You will develop an understanding of urban theory and development theory and how they apply to real world situations. You will learn how 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.

Teaching and learning in Michaelmas Term 2020 
Information on how LSE will deliver teaching and learning in Michaelmas term can be found here.

Programme details

Key facts

MSc Urbanisation and Development
Start date 28 September 2020
Application deadline None – rolling admissions. However please note the funding deadlines
Duration 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
Applications 2018 163
Intake 2018 19
Tuition fee UK/EU: £14,640
Overseas £22,608
Financial support Graduate support scheme (deadline 27 April 2020)
Minimum entry requirement 2:1 degree or equivalent in social science, or a degree in another field with relevant work experience
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Standard (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.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for MSc Urbanisation and Development

Upper second class honours degree (2:1) or equivalent in a social science subject such as: geography, anthropology, sociology, planning or development. Alternately a degree in another field with work experience relevant to cities and/or development could be considered.

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.

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our Information for International Students to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably 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)
- statement of  academic purpose
- 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. 

Programme structure and courses

You will take courses to the value of four full units in total, made up of compulsory and optional courses.

You will normally take one and a half unit's worth of options in Geography, and half a unit worth in International Development, although adjustments can be made. If you are planning to apply for a PhD within the Department, you may wish to audit additional methods training during your MSc. Contact your MSc Programme Co-Directors and the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss this requirement.

(* denotes a half unit)

Urban Theory and Policy in the Global South*
Concentrates on key scholarly and policy debates on cities and urbanisation in the developing world, particularly over the past two decades.

Urban Research Methods*
Provides an introduction to key methods used in research on urbanising societies around the world, particularly in the Global South.

Independent research project of 10,000 words on an approved topic of your choice.

Courses to the value of two units from a range of options

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page. 

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 a minimum of 20 contact hours; for full unit courses, a minimum of 40 contact hours in total.  Timetabled contact hours include sessions such as lectures, classes, seminars and/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 undertake 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 assistant, associate and full professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers, visiting members of staff, and LSE teaching fellows,   who are usually final stage doctoral research students or post-doctoral scholars. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide


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 MSc Urbanisation and Development courses use a range of formative exercises such as essays and student presentations. Summative assessment may be conducted during the course or by final examination at the end of, or after, the course.

For the core courses on MSc Urbanisation and Development, GY459 entails a summative assessment and unseen exam, whereas GY452 is assessed on the basis of two written summative assignments (essay and dissertation proposal) plus a seminar presentation on the student’s intended dissertation topic.  Further details, and an indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each of the optional courses can be found in the relevant course guide.

Academic support

Aside from the Programme Co-Directors (or nominated Acting Director), who will be available for general guidance and advice on academic or personal concerns throughout the year, by week 8 or 9 of Michaelmas you will also be assigned a dedicated dissertation supervisor.

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

Good general, and accessible, sources include the following: 

R Centner ‘Microcitizenships: fractious forms of belonging after Argentine neoliberalism’ (International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36:2, 336-62, 2012)

S Chant 'Women, Girls and World Poverty: empowerment, equality or essentialism?' (International Development Planning Review, 38:1, 1-24, 2016)

S Chant and C McIlwaine Cities, Slums and Gender in the Global South: towards a feminised urban future (Routledge, 2016)

G A Jones, and R Sanyal Spectacle and Suffering: the Mumbai slum as a worlded space (Geoforum, 65, 431-9. 2015)

L Loretta, H B Shin, and E L Morales Planetary Gentrification (Polity Press, 2016)

C Lemanski and C Marx (eds) The City in Urban Poverty (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

C Mercer Landscapes of Extended Ruralisation: postcolonial suburbs in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 2017, vol 42, Issue 1, p72-83)

H B Shin Economic Transition and Speculative Urbanisation in China: gentrification versus dispossession (Urban Studies, 53:3,471-89, 2016)

K Ward Researching the City: a guide for students (Sage, 2012)

A Zeiderman Endangered City: the politics of security and risk in Bogotá (Duke University Press, 2016)


Graduates enter a wide variety of employment including the public sector, non-governmental and civil society organisations, international agencies, research and consultancy, as well as further study.

Further testimonials on study experience and graduate destinations can be found here

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Lewis Abedi Asante

MSc Urbanisation and Development, 2011
Lecturer in Valuation, Kumasi Polytechnic, Ghana


In 2010 I received a scholarship to study the MSc Urbanisation and Development programme at LSE. I chose the course at the LSE because I believe that Ghana is becoming increasingly urbanised. The Geography and Environment department has an excellent reputation of producing the best minds in the field of urbanisation and development studies. The structure, content and teaching of the MSc exposed me to the latest theoretical and practical developments in urban and development policy in the global south.

Studying at LSE gives students an edge in getting employment globally. The training is geared towards preparing students for the job market and I advise students to take advantage of LSE Careers.

The LSE experience is one that I think about frequently. Given the opportunity, I will choose to pursue my PhD at LSE.

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

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 2020/21 for MSc Urbanisation and Development

UK/EU students: £14,640
Overseas students: £22,608

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.

Fee reduction

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.

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 £13 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: 27 April 2020.

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

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

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