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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Programme Catalogue

MSc Sustainable Cities

Programme code:MSC-EV/SCUCAS code:
Duration:12 Months Method of Attendance: Full Time
Programme manager:Dr David Dawson Contact

Total credits: 180

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.

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.

School/Unit responsible for the parenting of students and programme:


Examination board through which the programme will be considered:


Relevant QAA Subject Benchmark Groups:


Programme specification:

This programme launches at a time when cities across the world are leading action on climate change and sustainable futures. These futures depend on retrofitting and re-producing the basic systems of everyday urban life. The critical infrastructures, housing, and ecology that all citizens depend on.

However, while mayors and city governments pledge ‘zero carbon cities’ by 2040, there is a serious skills gap. The gap is in exactly how cities can achieve these goals. What needs to happen, how fast, and in which systems for these pledges to become reality? There is a lack of change leadership at the delivery end of urban infrastructure, and a gulf between the sophistication of sustainability research and real world calculus of governing systems change.

The MSc Sustainable Cities will tackle these problems by creating urban sustainability leaders of the future. It tackles urban sustainability crises of climate change, ecosystem degradation, socio-economic exclusion, and urban pollution. It does this through a systems perspective, focussing on the critical systems of urban provision, those which require deep retrofit or re-production to meet sustainability challenges.

The programme blends a grounding in the core concepts of sustainability and urbanism with applied, problem based learning on these systems. This focus is unique in sustainability programmes. Existing programmes at competitor institutions focus on issues of land use planning, governance, justice, or pure urban theory. This programme is different because it centres learning on the very systems that need retrofitting or re-production to create the sustainable city. These are; Energy systems, housing, mobility, and urban ecosystems [green infrastructure]. As the course grows, we will add further systems to reflect the research strengths of the University.

This approach leverages the core strengths of the Faculty of Environment. We build on a world leading Sustainability Research Institute, Institute for Transport Studies and Department of Geography. The course structure is innovative for two reasons 1) Modules are offered sequentially, students concentrate on one module at a time in intensive 3-5 week blocks. This allows deep immersion in the subject area. 2) The programme uses Problem Based Learning or PBL, to complement traditional delivery with self-directed learning around real systems problems. PBL supports traditional delivery by giving students problem cases based on live issues in contemporary cities. Facilitated by the academic team, students seek new learning and solutions to problems using a range of resources. This mirrors the ways in which multiple stakeholders coalesce in practise to solve urban problems. Using problem based learning will be an excellent preparation for leading sustainability and urban change. No other sustainability programme uses these learning methods.

By leveraging interdisciplinary strengths across the faculty students gain: a critical understanding of the concepts of sustainability and urban theory, a new basked of tools, techniques and methods to address urban problems using action research, deep systems knowledge on the potential for change in each system, and new leadership and research skills.

A further innovation in the course is the inclusion of a change leadership element which comprises 30% of the grade for the final module. This self-reflexive process will build the skills needed to lead change in complex multi stakeholder environments in which the change agent (student) may not have hierarchical control and must build consent, consensus and action using a range of interpersonal skills. This programme aims to build a strong international cohort by drawing on partnerships with international networks such as C40 Cities (with whom co-delivery is envisaged) and building a strong presence across the international urban sustainability community.

If a student has not achieved the minimum number of cred its required to obtain an MSc after their re-sits, they will be awarded either a Postgraduate Diploma or a Postgraduate Certificate depending on the number of credits achieved.

Requirement for an Award: To obtain the Masters' (MSc) qualification, candidates must pass 150 credits of level 5 modules to include the dissertation and all pass to progress modules. A Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) can be obtained if 90 credits are passed. A postgraduate certificate (PGC) can be obtained if 60 credits are passed.

Year1 - View timetable

[Learning Outcomes, Transferable (Key) Skills, Assessment]

Compulsory modules:

Candidates will be required to study the following compulsory modules:

FOEV5001MCities and Sustainability30 credits01 Oct to 30 Nov
FOEV5002MResearch and Skills for Urban Sustainability30 credits1 Nov to 31 Dec
FOEV5003MCity Systems: Energy15 credits1 Jan to 30 Jun
FOEV5004MCity Systems: Sustainable Housing15 credits1 Jan to 30 Jun
FOEV5005MCity Systems: Mobility15 credits1 Jan to 30 Jun
FOEV5006MCity Systems: Urban Ecosystems15 credits1 Jan to 30 Jun
FOEV5008MSustainability Research Project60 creditsSemesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun)

Optional modules:

This module is elective and non-assessed, primarily designed to introduce post-graduate students to ‘Sustainability’ as a contested term, as well as providing some core knowledge surrounding its history and real-world application to apply and develop as you study your other modules at Leeds.

SOEE5282MIntroduction to Sustainability  creditsSemester 1 (Sep to Jan)

Last updated: 12/05/2023 16:52:23


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