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MSc in Sustainable Urban Development, Oxford University, UK

Publish Date: Jan 18, 2016

Deadline: Jan 22, 2016

The two-year MSc in Sustainable Urban Development will provide you with a rigorous and critical introduction to 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 cities of the Global North and South.

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 typically 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 operating in a range of urban contexts worldwide - public, private or third sector organisations - and fosters collaboration, creativity, perspective-sharing and effective networking skills. The programme runs in partnership with the Prince's Foundation for Building Community, and is an accredited course within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors University Partnership.

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

Program details

The course is delivered through a mix of tailored teaching and learning methods, including seminars, site visits, peer-review, research workshops and individual 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 module, during which time you should expect to spend an average of 15 hours per week of independent study.

You will be allocated a course supervisor who will support your academic development, and with whom you will meet during each module for an individual tutorial. In the second year, you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor. Where dissertation supervision requires expertise that is not available among the core staff, an additional dissertation supervisor will be identified. You will also have a college advisor whom you may consult on issues concerning your personal wellbeing.

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 modules are held at the offices of the Prince's Foundation for Building Community in London. The remaining six are held in Oxford at the Department for Continuing Education. Each module addresses a core theme of the course.

In the first year, you will study five interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary modules:

  • Concepts of the City and Environmental Change
  • Climate Change and the Built Environment
  • Place-making and Urban Design
  • Financing Sustainability
  • Sustainable Transport

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.

In the second year, you will study three interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary modules:

  • Urbanism, Community and City-Building
  • Urbanisation in the Global South
  • Leadership, Governance and Future Cities

You will spend the latter half of the second year working on a 15,000-word dissertation. You will choose the topic, with the guidance of your supervisor, and, in most cases, spend time doing fieldwork and gathering data during this period. More information can be found in the Course Handbook.


The MSc is comprised of five modules in Year 1 and three modules plus a dissertation in Year 2, for each year of registration an Annual Award fee (Course Fee) is also due. Please see the Fees and funding site for more information on how modular fees are calculated. Fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the program.

The fees for Year 1 are £16050

The fees for Year 2 are £17730 (plus a 3-5% inflationary increase)

All fees are inclusive of college fees. All fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the program.

The course expects to offer annual payment plans of three or seven installments, with the first installment due to piror to the first module and the final payment due before the following Easter. Please contact us for further information using the details below.

There are over 1000 fully-funded scholarships available for new graduate students at Oxford. Please visit the Fees and funding page for information about the wide variety of funding opportunities available at Oxford and help on how to calculate your living costs.

Past students on the MSc have been awarded Oxford’s prestigious Clarendon Fund scholarship and have received significant contributions from a sponsoring employer toward all or part of their fees. If you need information from us to support an application for funding from your employer, please contact us via the details below.

Program Scholarship

A full-fee Programme Scholarship is available for new students joining the MSc for October 2016 entry. There is no separate application process for this scholarship, however, if you wish to be considered you must submit your MSc application by 22 January 2016. Please see the guidance notes for further details and selection criteria.

Oxford-Viessmann Scholarship

The Oxford-Viessmann Scholarship is open to all graduate applicants for the part-time MSc in Sustainable Urban Development. The Scholarship covers course fees and college fees and includes a subsistence grant. The scholarship is jointly funded by the University of Oxford and Viessman UK Ltd. Founded in 1917 Viessmann is one of the leading international manufacturers of heating, cooling and climate control technology.

To be considered, please apply by 22 January 2016.

To apply for the Oxford-Viessmann Scholarship please submit a personal statement using the Oxford-Viessman Personal Statement Form to by no later than 22 January 2016.

Apply for this course

Applications for this course should be made via the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website.

Early application for the program is strongly advised. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a telephone interview.

If you would like to discuss your application or any part of the application process before applying please contact the course team via

Sheehan Scholarship

A fully-funded scholarship has been generously donated by the Oxford-based Sheehan Group. The successful candidate will work closely with the Sheehan Group during the research dissertation phase of their second year of study, undertaking a project related to the recycling of aggregate.

The dissertation may address the political, economic, and environmental aspects of recycling aggregate, focusing on the Sheehan recycling facility in Oxfordshire as the main, or as a comparative case study. Applicants will submit a 500-word summary of their proposed dissertation topic with the standard MSc application and are invited to adopt an innovative and multidisciplinary approach to the topic of construction and demolition waste recycling.

To be considered, please apply by 22 January 2016.

Please see the Sheehan Scholarship guidance above for further details of the project. To apply, please complete the Sheehan Scholarship Dissertation Proposal Form and send this to by no later than 22 January 2016.

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