About the course
The two-year MSc in Sustainable Urban Development will provide you with a rigorous and critical understanding of the policy and practice of sustainable urban development. The course exposes students to sustainable urbanism as both an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary subject at global and local scales.
Attention is paid to the intellectual history of sustainable urban development, its current and future applications and practice, and the contemporary relevance of research to sustainable urban policy and practice across the world.
The over-arching aim of the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development (MSUD) reflects that of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, namely to provide students with a systematic understanding of core areas and advanced topics in sustainable urban development, the ability to evaluate empirical or primary evidence critically, and the conceptual understanding to marshal and present arguments and solutions based on primary data, theory and/or the application of sound reasoning.
More specifically, the MSUD aims to provide students with:
- a multidisciplinary structure that engages with world-leading research to the benefit of students’ professional practice
- an international understanding and knowledge of sustainable urban development;
- an engagement with the academic excellence of the University of Oxford.
Who the course is for
The programme attracts a lively and engaged group of students, who combine postgraduate study with their professional lives, and an active alumni network. Students on the course come from a wide international background and share a variety of work experiences in urban development and the built environment. The MSc is designed for those working in a range of urban contexts worldwide - public, private or third sector organisations - and fosters collaboration, creativity, perspective-sharing and effective networking skills.
The course is delivered by tutors from institutes and departments across the University of Oxford, and in collaboration with comprehensive range of commercial, governmental and non-government organisations specialising in sustainable urban development.
Partnership and accreditation
The programme runs in partnership with The Prince's Foundation, and is an accredited course within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors University Partnership.
The course is delivered through a mix of tailored teaching and learning methods, including seminars, site visits, peer-review, research workshops and tutorials. Classes are seminar-based, encouraging active participation and enabling students to learn from each other. You will prepare for sessions by reading a selection of recommended books, book chapters and articles. Typically, there are six to eight weeks between each teaching week, during which time you should expect to spend an average of 20 hours per week of independent study.
The course comprises four elements:
- core themes
- urban theory
- research methods
- the dissertation
You will attend eight intensive residential teaching weeks during the two years of study. Two of these eight teaching weeks are held at the offices of The Prince's Foundation in London. The remaining six are held in Oxford at the Department for Continuing Education. Each week addresses a core theme of the course.
- Introducing Sustainable Urban Development (Oxford)
- Climate Change and the Built Environment (Oxford)
- Place-making and Urban Design (London)
- Financing Sustainability (Oxford)
- Sustainable Transport (Oxford)
- Urbanism, Community and City-Building (London)
- Urbanisation in the Global South (Oxford)
- Leadership, Governance and Future Cities (Oxford)
During teaching weeks, you will also follow foundation courses in urban theory and research methods tailored to sustainable urban development, comprising sessions on the intellectual history of sustainable urbanism, paradigm shifts and challenges in sustainable development, urban economics, research design, research ethics and preparation, bibliography and library resources.
For each teaching week, you will complete an essay of up to 3,000 words on that theme. The first essay is formative and will provide you with valuable feedback at the start of your studies. The remaining seven essay assignments are summative.
You will spend the latter half of the second year working on a 15,000-word research dissertation. You will define your own dissertation topic, with the guidance of your supervisor, and, in most cases, spend time doing fieldwork and gathering data during this period. Training in research skills is built into the course delivery, in order to help you make the most of this opportunity.
You will be allocated a course supervisor who will support your academic development, and with whom you will meet during each teaching week. In the second year, you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor from the course team. You will also have a college advisor whom you may consult on issues concerning your personal wellbeing.
Fee rates for the academic year 2022-23
These rates (in pounds sterling) are for students joining in the 2022-23 academic year and will increase annually.
An Annual Award Fee is due for every academic year (or part-year) attended, and there is a minimum of two Annual Award Fees payable. Module or Dissertation Fees are payable in advance as invoiced. A Module Fee is payable in respect of each teaching week. The Dissertation Fee is comprised of three Module Fees. Fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the programme.
Annual Award Fee: £9,495
Module Fee: £2,090
Dissertation Fee: £6,270
Illustration for full programme (completing in two years, with eight teaching weeks and a dissertation)
Annual Award Fee: £9,495 (see notes 1 and 2)
Plus 5 Module Fees: £10,450 (see notes 1 and 2)
Total Year 1: £19,945
Annual Award Fee: £9,495 (see notes 1 and 2)
plus 3 Module Fees: £6,270 (see notes 1 and 2)
plus Dissertation Fee: £6,270 (see notes 1 and 2)
Total Year 2: £22,035 (see notes 1 and 2)
Total: £41,980 (see notes 1 and 2)
- The fee rates listed are for the academic year shown, and you should be aware that these rates will increase annually.
- The Illustration is based on the fee rates for the academic year shown; however, fee rates for attendance in future years will increase, so students attending for more than one year should expect the total to be higher than is shown in the Illustration. The exact amount will depend on the fee rates set annually, and upon the years you are in attendance; these are normally published well before the start of each academic year, but for your own budgetary purposes you may wish to estimate a 6% annual increase on fee rates.
- MSc students are matriculated and are full members of the Collegiate University.
Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our Fees and Funding page.
The MSc Sustainable Urban Development Programme Scholarship is open to anyone applying for the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development.
To be considered for any of the University's scholarships you must submit a completed application by the Late January deadline.