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Sustainable Cities MSc

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Our Sustainable Cities MSc is an interdisciplinary programme that will provide you with a critical understanding of how cities are shaped by both human and physical processes that extend beyond just the ‘technical’ aspects of sustainable urban development. The programme develops an awareness of the historical context and contemporary variety of ideas and practices around the world relating to sustainable cities. It examines the key challenges surrounding the implementation of policies that seek to promote sustainable urbanism. 


We have a scholarship available for students in their final year of certain relevant undergraduate courses within the School of Global Affairs.  

We also have the King's China Scholarship Council scholarship as well as UK Research Council studentships.

Find out more about our scholarships here.

Visit our online hubs for content, news and events about the Department of Geography here

Key benefits

  • Provides an in-depth understanding of the concepts and practices of the future of cities drawing on a range of international examples.
  • Uses London as a laboratory to study urban sustainability. 
  • Wide choices of optional modules from the Geography Department and beyond, allowing you to follow your own interests in this field. 
  • Experience of conducting in-depth research into sustainable cities.
  • Guest Practitioner and policy speakers.
  • Environmental internships are available. 

Key information

Application status Open

Duration One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Credit value UK 180/ECTS 90

Course leaders

Robert Cowley

Further details

Course contact for further information

 Postgraduate Admissions Team, Admissions Office tel: +44 (0) 20 7848 7000 fax: +44 (0) 20 7848 7171

Course contact form Postgraduate admissions

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy

Department Department of Geography



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Course detail


Our Sustainable Cities MSc provides an advanced understanding of contemporary debates about sustainable cities, with a specific focus on the human and physical processes shaping urban ecologies and environments. The programme combines pure and applied research methods from human and physical geography, giving you an advanced level understanding of contemporary debates about Sustainable Cities. In this programme, we aim to:

  • Develop your critical understanding of the interrelationships between urbanization and human lifestyles, politics, economy, ecology and environment.
  • Enhance your critical understanding of human impacts on physical processes in cities, and the implications for habitation and liveability. 
  • Increase your ability to evaluate advanced scholarship relating to policies that promote urban sustainability.
  • Promote initiative and develop your independent critical judgment in identifying, analysing and solving problems at an advanced level. 
  • Help you to develop relevant transferable skills which are embedded in our learning and assessment schemes. 
  • Develop your practical skills in data handling, interpretation and use, and develop skills in connecting physical dynamics to social, political and management processes.
  • Identify the challenges of managing cities in an integrated and sustainable manner.
  • Enable you to deploy scientific, social and economic theory within a sustainability framework which takes into account the need to address the needs of society, the economy and the protection of environmental resources. 


This programme is primarily taught at the King’s College London Strand Campus, with occasional lectures and practical sessions taking place at the Waterloo Campus. Please note that locations are determined by where each module is taught and may vary depending on the optional modules you select.


Further literature

Course format and assessment


We will use a delivery method that will ensure students have a rich, exciting experience from the start. Face-to-face teaching will be complemented and supported with innovative technology so that students also experience elements of digital learning and assessment.

We will teach you through a combination of lectures and seminars, typically 20 hours per module. We also expect you to undertake 130 hours of independent study of each module.

Module Lectures, seminars and feedback Self-study

 Per 15-credit taught module

 16-30 hours  120-134 hours  (some modules may involve  lab work or e-learning which would require less self-guided learning).
 Dissertation module Usually 5 contact hours of one-to-one or group consultation with supervisors.  595 hours of self-study and project work.  


Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.


Your performance will be assessed through a combination of coursework and written/practical examinations. Forms of assessment may typically include essays and other written assignments, oral presentations, lab work and occasionally by examination, depending on the modules selected. All students also undertake a research-based dissertation of 12,000 words. 

Regulating body

King’s College London is regulated by the Office for Students.


Year 1

Required Modules

Programmes are divided into modules. You will normally take modules totalling 180-190 credits as outlined below.

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change, and not all optional modules given below are offered every year. 

You are required to take the following modules:

  • Dissertation (60 credits)
  • Governing the Sustainable City (15 credits)
  • Practising Social Research  (15 Credits) OR Methods for Environmental Data Analysis (15 credits)
  • Research Design and Project Management (15 credits)
  • Understanding the Sustainable City (15 credits)


Optional Modules

In addition, you are required to take 60-70 credits from a range of modules which may typically include:

  • Advanced Quantitative and Spatial Methods in Human Geography (15 credits)
  • Climate: Science and Society (15 credits)
  • Environment, Livelihoods and Development in the 'South' (15 credits)
  • Environmental Internship (15 credits) 
  • GIS and Spatial Data Science (15 credits) 
  • Sustainability in Practice (15 credits) 
  • The Right to the City (15 credits)
  • Tourism and Development (15 credits)
  • Understanding Human Mobility (15 credits) 

Other Optional Modules Available to Students on this Programme:

  • Any Level 7 (Master’s) module offered in the Department of Geography, including those listed above.
  • Any level 7 (Master's) modules offered in the King's Programme MSc China and Globalisation.
  • Up to 20 credits from Level 7 (Master’s) modules offered from any King’s Departments or Institutes outside of Geography, subject to approval.

Part-Time Students

Part-time students are advised to take 75-90 credits of taught modules in their first year, including Understanding the Sustainable City and Governing the Sustainable City, thereby allowing enough time to focus on the dissertation in their second year. The modules Practising Social Research or Methods for Environmental Data Analysis have different objectives and aim. Therefore, the students are normally advised to take Practising Social Research in their second year or if they take Methods for Environmental Data Analysis, to take that in their first year. Should students have strong reasons to instead take Practising Social Research in their first year, or Methods for Environmental Research in their second year, they should consult with and have the agreement of their Programme Director. Research Design and Project Management should be taken in the second year. 

Entry requirements & how to apply

Sustainable Cities Entry Requirements
Minimum requirements 2:1

Bachelor's degree with 2:1 honours. Candidates who do not achieve a 2:1 but have professional or voluntary experience will also be considered.

In order to meet the academic entry requirements for this programme you should have a minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree with a final mark of at least 60% or above in the UK marking scheme. If you are still studying you should be achieving an average of at least 60% or above in the UK marking scheme.

International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band B Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


Application procedure

Applications must be made online using King’s online application portal apply.kcl.ac.uk and a non-refundable application fee of £70 applies.

We run a rolling admissions system. We aim to process all complete applications within four weeks; during February and March and over holiday periods, applications may take longer to process. There is no set deadline.

Please note that as part of the evaluation process of your application you may be required to undertake a Skype interview.

Personal statement and supporting information

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

Supporting document Yes

Please provide a writing sample of around 500 words, answering the following questions. Please note this an essential requirement and supporting statements which do not answer the questions below will not be assessed as part of your application. 

Why you are applying for this specific programme, and how does it fit in with your future plans? (max 250 words)

How does your experience and education make you a suitable candidate for this programme? (max 250 words)

Please write these questions as separate answers, with a clear title for your answer to each question. Documents where your answers are not clearly titled and separated will not be accepted

Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago. In some cases, we may request an additional reference from you.
Other Optional Applicants may wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of their application


Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible. Our first application deadline is the 26th March 2021. After this date, the programme will remain open only if places are still available and will be closed as soon as it is full.

For programmes that remain open beyond this date, the final application deadlines for the following fee statuses are listed below:

  • EU or overseas (international) fee status: 30th July 2021
  • Home fee status: 27th August 2021

Please note, you will not be eligible for an application fee refund if you apply after the first application deadline in March, and we are unable to process more offers as places are filled before the final application deadlines above.


Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

Preparation courses

Fees and funding

  • Full time Home fees: £10,500 per year (2021/22)
  • Full time overseas fees: £23,460 per year (2021/22)
  • Part time Home fees: £5,250 per year (2021/22)
  • Part time overseas fees: £11,730 per year (2021/22)

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.


When you receive an offer for this course you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your place. The deposit will be credited towards your total fee payment.

The UK deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000. 

  • If you receive an offer on or before 31st March, payment is due by 30th April 2021.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st April and 30th June, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st July and 31st July, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer on or after 1st August, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer from late August onwards, payment is due within 2 days of receiving the offer.

If you are a current King’s student in receipt of the King's Living Bursary you are not required to pay a deposit to secure your place on the programme. Please note, this will not change the total fees payable for your chosen programme.

Additional costs/expenses

In addition to your tuition fees, you can also expect to pay for: 

  • Books if you choose to buy your own copies 
  • Clothing for optional course related events and competitions 
  • Library fees and fines 
  • Personal photocopies 
  • Printing course handouts 
  • Society membership fees 
  • Stationery 
  • Graduation costs
  • Travel costs for travel around London and between campuses 
  • Some optional modules include the option to undertake other short day-trip fieldwork. These fieldwork options will enhance the modules, but they are not assessed as part of the module. The additional costs for short day-trip fieldwork would typically not exceed £50 per year.
  • Costs may be incurred for dissertation work if fieldwork and/or laboratory materials are needed for the chosen study topic, but such work is not mandatory and would not impact academic success if an alternative approach to dissertation research is taken.

Please visit our web pages on fees and funding for more information.

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.

Career prospects

On completion of the Sustainable Cities MSc programme, you will have attained a range of knowledge and skills that will allow you to excel in a wide range of careers. Graduates from this programme have gone onto careers in international organisations, agencies, consultancies, national and city governments, charities, research organisations, in addition to many pursuing doctoral degrees in academia. 


Blue box with King's College London rankings. Starting with, 7th in the UK for research quality. Followed by, 6th in the UK for research power. Concluding with, 4th among multi-faculty universities for research Impact. The source is research excellence framework 2014

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