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Sustainable Cities MSc

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This interdisciplinary programme explores beyond the ‘technical’ aspects of sustainable urban development and provides a critical understanding of how cities are shaped by both human and physical processes. You will develop an awareness of the historical context and contemporary variety of sustainable city ideas and practices around the world, and the key challenges surrounding their implementation.


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

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Key benefits

  • Study the urban future in the heart of London
  • Wide choice 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 intake Approximately 20 FT/PT.

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 course will give you advanced understanding of contemporary debates about sustainable cities, with a specific focus on the human and physical processes shaping urban ecologies and environments.

We aim to:

  • Develop your critical understanding of the interrelationships between urbanization and human lifestyles, politics, economy, ecology and environment.
  • Develop your critical understanding of human impacts on physical processes in cities, and the implications for habitation and liveability. 
  • Develop your ability to evaluate advanced scholarship in the field of urban policy critically, with reference to sustainable cities.
  • Promote initiative and develop your independent critical judgment in identifying, analysing and solving problems at an advanced level. 
  • Develop your relevant transferable skills which are embedded in our learning and assessment schemes. 
  • Develop your practical skills in data handling, interpretation and use, and develop your skills in connecting physical dynamics to social, political and management processes.
  • Enable you to focus on the challenges of managing cities in an integrated and sustainable manner, regardless of your first degree discipline.
  • 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.

The course combines pure and applied research methods from human and physical geography, giving you an advanced level understanding of contemporary debates about sustainable cities. We focus on the human and physical processes shaping urban ecologies, environments and social processes.



This course is primarily taught at the King’s College London Strand and Waterloo Campuses. Our location in the heart of London gives you access to important social, cultural, and textual resources, such as our own Maughan Library and the British Library.

Further literature

Course format and assessment


We will teach you through a combination of lectures and seminars, normally for 20 hours for a 20-credit module. In addition we expect you to complete 180 hours of independent study per module.

Typically one credit equates to 10 hours of work.
Module Lectures, seminars and feedback Self-study
 Per 20-credit taught module  Typically 20 hours  180 hours (some modules in the Geography Department may involve lab work or e-learning which would require less self-guided learning).
 Dissertation module Usually 6 dissertation workshops/tutorials plus 5 contact hours of one-to-one or group consultation with supervisors.  589 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

Courses are divided into modules. You will normally take modules totalling 180 credits.

You are required to take the following modules:

You are also required to take one module from the following modules:

Part-time students should plan to take 80 credits in their first year of study made up of the required taught modules Understanding the Sustainable City and Governing the Sustainable City and optional modules. Part-time students should plan to take the remaining 100 credits made up of required taught modules/optional modules (40 credits) and the 60-credit dissertation module in their second year. You are normally advised to take the compulsory research module Practising Social Research in your second year, or if you take Methods for Environmental Research that should be taken in your first year. Should you have strong reasons to do otherwise you should have the agreement of your Programme Director. 

Optional Modules

In addition, you are required to take at least 20 credits from a range of modules which may typically include:

• Advanced Quantitative & Spatial Methods in Human Geography (20 credits)
• Development and Environmentalism in the ‘South’ (20 credits)
• Environmental Geographical Information Systems (GIS) (20 credits)
• The Right to the City (20 credits)
• Tourism and Development (20 credits)

You are also required to take sufficient credits to bring your total for the year to 180, from a range of optional modules, which may typically include:

• Any Level 7 (Master’s) module offered by the Department of Geography, including those listed above.
• Up to 20 credits from Level 7 (Master’s) modules offered by other King’s Departments or Institutes outside of Geography, subject to approvals.

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. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

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 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 31 March 2020. After this date, applications will remain open if places are available, but programmes will be closed as soon as they are full. For programmes with spaces remaining, no further applications will be accepted from non-EU (Overseas) nationals after 31July 2020 or from UK/EU nationals after 28 August 2020.


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


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/EU fees: £9,990 per year (2020/21)
  • Full time overseas fees: £22,350 per year (2020/21)
  • Part time Home/EU fees: £4,995 per year (2020/21)
  • Part time overseas fees: £11,175 per year (2020/21)

Students starting their programme in 2020/21 who are eligible to pay EU fees will pay the same rate of tuition fees as UK students. This will apply for the duration of their programme, but may be subject to change by the UK Government for subsequent cohorts from 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/EU deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000. 

  • If you receive an offer before 1 June 2020, payment is due by 30 June 2020.


  • If you receive an offer between 1 June 2020 and 30 June 2020, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.


  • If you receive an offer between 1 July 2020 and 31 July 2020, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.


  • If you receive an offer on or after 1 August 2020, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.


  • If you receive an offer in late August, 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

The skills that you develop on this course will allow you to excel in a wide range of careers in international organisations, agencies, consultancies, national and city governments, charities, research organisations and academia.


Next steps

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