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School of Geography

Sustainable Cities MSc
(Full time) 2018 start


Key facts

  • Start date:
    September 2018
  • Duration/Mode:
    12 months full time
  • UK/EU fees: £8,500 (total)
    International fees: £19,500 (total)
  • Entry requirements:
    A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a relevant subject.
  • Language requirements:
    IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.
  • Course terms and conditions

Cities across the world are facing huge sustainability challenges. Whilst mayors and city governments pledge ‘zero carbon cities’ by 2040, a serious skills shortage means a new generation of sustainability leaders is needed.

The MSc Sustainable Cities tackles this skills shortage by equipping you with the knowledge and tools necessary to become an urban sustainability leader. On this programme you will experience urban sustainability first hand, blending concepts and theories with real world problems and solutions.

What makes us stand apart?

Some elements of teaching are delivered in non-traditional routes through short intensive courses.

We take a ‘systems’ approach to teaching sustainable cities, you will learn about energy systems, transport networks, housing provision, and urban ecosystems. Using applied cases you will discover how these systems can be transformed to produce better economic, environmental, and social outcomes. This course will see students graduate into city government, consultancy, NGO’s and beyond.

The course is delivered in a friendly, challenging and globally competitive Environment faculty where you will have access to cutting edge research, teaching and collaborative learning opportunities.

Course highlights:

  • No other UK programme teaches the key systems that make up sustainable cities; you will graduate with strong academic and practical knowledge.
  • We have revolutionized the MSc experience, we teach modules one at a time, using problem based learning. You will have time to think and work on real world problems.
  • You will be part of a team. We take a free residential field trip in week 2 to the Centre for Alternative Technologies in Wales. Here we work together on practical issues of sustainability and get to know our colleagues for the year.
  • Each student will have a personal leadership plan tailored to their strengths and development needs. This is delivered in parallel to the ‘systems’ content and builds your leadership confidence.
  • The programme is delivered by one of the UK Top 5 and world Top 50 universities for Academic Reputation for Environmental Sciences (QS World Rankings by Subject 2018).
  • This programme benefits from the direct teaching input of members of the C40 global network for climate leadership.
  • This MSc has partnered with The Oasis School of Human Relations, who will deliver skill-based training in collaborative leadership. Our partner will also deliver Whole Person Learning, a form of transformative learning that enables people to bring more of themselves to their lives, work and communities.


The research project is one of the most satisfying elements of this course. It allows you to apply what you’ve learned to a piece of research focusing on a real-world problem, and it can be used to explore and develop your specific interests.

Examples of project topics would include:

  • Linking up energy and transport systems with a project on electric vehicles in the city
  • Undertaking public ‘visioning’ exercises for major sustainability developments
  • Creating mixed low-carbon housing development by analysing alternative ownership and construction approaches
  • Creating fuel forests in the city, linking urban parks with biomass production
  • Developing city and regional climate change strategies around key systems.

Programme team

We have an excellent reputation for world-class research, which is highlighted by our top 5 positon for research power in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). This wealth of research informs the content of our Sustainable Cities MSc and gives you the opportunity to interact with academics who are at the forefront of major global issues.

You will be taught by academics whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. This course draws on our expertise in a range of fields such as critical approaches to urban development , energy use and low carbon societies, self-repairing cities, transport issues, social justice, cities, citizenship and sustainable urban mobility planning.

The overall programme manager is Dr Stephen Hall (SEE), and co-managers are Prof Paul Chatterton (Geography) and Dr Caroline Mullen (Institute for Transport Studies).

Course terms and conditions

Course content

This programme blends a grounding in the core concepts of sustainability and urbanism with applied, problem based learning. Your core modules will focus on the very systems that need transforming to create a sustainable city, such as: energy systems, housing, mobility, and urban ecosystems.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Cities and Sustainability 30 credits
  • Skills for Urban Sustainability 30 credits
  • City Systems: Energy 15 credits
  • City Systems: Housing 15 credits
  • City Systems: Mobility 15 credits
  • City Systems: Natural Systems 15 credits
  • Research Project and Leadership for Sustainability 60 credits

Learning and teaching

Our groundbreaking research feeds directly into teaching, and you’ll have regular contact with staff who are at the forefront of their disciplines. You’ll have regular contact with them through lectures, seminars, tutorials, small group work and project meetings. Independent study is also important to the programme, as you develop your problem-solving and research skills as well as your subject knowledge.


You’ll be assessed using a range of techniques including exams, essays, presentations, with assessment of problem based learning sets. The problems set will be drawn directly from real world challenges facing cities and are an excellent preparation for professional practise.

Applying, fees and funding

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a relevant subject such as geography, town planning, earth and environment, architecture, sustainability, engineering, business and management, sociology, politics or public administration.

Applicants with a 2.2 will be considered on a case by case basis where applicants can demonstrate relevant work experience or aptitude in a relevant specialist field.

Graduates from other disciplines and those with professional experience in the sector will also be considered.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information contact the School of Earth and Environment admissions team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications. International students who do not meet the English language requirements for the programme may be able to study an English for Academic Purposes pre-sessional course with a progression route to the degree programme. For information and entry requirements, read Pre-sessional programmes.


How to apply

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Admissions policy

Faculty of Environment Postgraduate Admissions Policy 2018

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy


UK/EU fees: £8,500 (total)
International fees: £19,500 (total)

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

Sustainable Cities Scholarship

Worth £4,000 to the top 3 achieving students who are self-funding and not in receipt of any other School of Earth and Environment award.

This is a scholarship awarded on condition of you achieving the equivalent of a UK upper second class degree (2:1) or above.*

Alumni Bursary

Worth 10% off full fees to all University of Leeds graduates who continue their postgraduate studies at the University of Leeds. Students can be in receipt of other University of Leeds awards.

Career opportunities

This programme will give you the practical skills needed to pursue a careers in city or urban governance and planning, infrastructure and sustainability consulting, policy analysis and development, environmental and urban consultancy, corporate social responsibility, environmental management and management systems, sustainability NGO’s, or PhD study.

Possible career paths:

  • infrastructure and sustainability consulting
  • environmental and urban consultancy
  • city or urban governance and planning
  • policy analysis and development
  • corporate social responsibility
  • environmental management and management systems
  • sustainability NGO's
  • PhD Study

Careers support

We offer extra support and activities to help you stand out in your chosen field and achieve your career goals. The School of Earth and Environment has a strong commitment to enhancing student employability and has its own dedicated Employability Officer.

Read more about our careers and employability.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.