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Eco-Cities (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

The MSc Eco-Cities is an innovative programme, which provides you with the skills to develop environmentally friendly urban projects, while reducing the impact of climate change.


Work on live projects on location

Explore approaches and challenges for sustainable planning and development on location in a global city.



Learn from and engage with research-active staff who are working at the forefront of the discipline.


Tackle climate change

Gain the knowledge and skills of green and low carbon development alongside innovative planning approaches for sustainable city development.


Demonstrate your knowledge

Undertake in-depth research in an area that interests you.

The MSc Eco-Cities programme addresses how cities can be planned and built to promote low carbon lifestyles, mitigate climate change and promote sustainable ways of living.

For the first time in human history there are now more people living in towns and cities than in rural areas, with United Nations estimates indicating that more than 60% of the world’s population, some 4.9bn people, will be living in urban areas by 2030.

It’s evident that the scale of urban areas is increasing, fuelled by the advent of new megacities (with populations in excess of 10 million) such as Beijing, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai and Tokyo. It is also clear that the geography of urbanisation has shifted from the developed world of Western Europe and North America to the developing world of Asia, Africa and South America.

It is within this context that we explore both the critical theory, and actual practices and processes, of low carbon eco-city development and how they relate to the implementation and application of sustainable development policies worldwide.

Study with us and address the serious and complex questions of how cities can be planned and managed in a more resource efficient way, including:

  • What is a low carbon and ecological (sustainable) city?
  • How can city and regional planning effectively guide sustainable development?
  • Can cities be planned and built to promote low carbon lifestyles and foster ecological development that can mitigate climate change?
  • How can urban areas adapt to climate change?


Where you'll study

School of Geography and Planning

Join us as we explore and tackle the social, political, economic, development and environmental challenges which affect where and how we live.

  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4022
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA

Admissions criteria


Academic requirements: 

Typically, you will need to have either: 

  • a 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as economics, environmental engineering, geography, landscape architecture, politics, planning, public administration, sociology, or an equivalent international degree 
  • a university-recognised equivalent academic qualification.

English Language requirements:

IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or an accepted equivalent. 

Application deadline:

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. 

Selection process: 

We will review your application and if you meet the entry requirements, we will make you an offer. 

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

The programme is offered full time (12 months) consisting of 180 credits. It is fully modularised.

You will take core options to the value of 80 credits, optional modules to the value of 40 credits, and then undertake a piece of independent research (Dissertation) also worth 60 credits.

The programme is divided into two parts:

  • Part one comprises a teaching programme of core and option modules over two semesters. Options are available in the School of Geography and Planning, the School of Engineering and the School of Architecture.
  • Part two comprises an individual dissertation on a topic selected in consultation with members of staff. Whilst there are few constraints on the choice of topic, it must address at least one of the core course themes of the Eco-Cities programme.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2022/23 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2022.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The programme will be delivered through a mix of lectures, seminars and field study visits/empirical data collection.

The formative learning experience is particularly fruitful when you undertake the Live Project as staff will be alongside you in the field, and in your dissertations when you will have regular meetings with your supervisors on the progress of your research.

A particularly notable feature of the course is the Live Project in which you will have the opportunity to visit an ongoing eco-city development. This is a core module and provides an opportunity for you to undertake an overseas field study visit and work in-depth on a ‘live’ planning and/or governance issue in an eco-city.

You will work in groups and work closely with a partner organisation and will deploy skills in problem-definition; draw upon, and develop, knowledge of the planning, political and cultural context of the development; and appreciate the operational context within which a report will be delivered to the partner organisation.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment takes place in modules on an ongoing basis and will take a variety of forms including essays, group reports, individual reports, presentations and multiple choice tests.

How will I be supported?

You will be supported in a number of ways, including:

  • Assignment of a personal tutor who will have both a pastoral and academic role. You are expected to be in regular contact with your tutor and attendance is monitored.
  • Use of Learning Central where lecture materials and sometimes recordings will be made available enabling you to visit module material on a regular basis and at a time and place convenient to you.


Formative feedback is delivered in scheduled teaching sessions. This may take the form of commentaries on key text, peer-to-peer learning experiences, or discussions of how assessed work may be approached.

What skills will I practise and develop?

  • Analysis of policy problem
  • Critical thinking
  • Data analysis
  • Evaluation of alternatives
  • Recognition of issues of scale, geography and/or culture
  • Processing data
  • Data analysis techniques of software
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Group working
  • Application of low carbon development models.

Tuition fees for 2022 entry

Students from the UK

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £9,450 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £20,700 £1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Career prospects

It is estimated that there are about 170 eco-cities (towns) under development in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa, and the Pacific Area. In China alone, more than 90% of cities have expressed their interest in developing a new eco-city or to apply the principles of eco-city to their existing urban area.

The scale of current and future eco-city development and its global reach means that the programme will appeal and offer value to:

  • Those who are currently engaged in eco-developments and wish to develop their professional expertise and academic knowledge in a School of Geography and Planning.
  • Those who wish to pursue a career in eco-development and wish to learn about best practice and leading edge academic thinking.


Master's Excellence Scholarships

An award open to students with a home fee status intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2021 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.


You will travel to a global city and work in depth on a ‘live’ planning project and/or governance issue. Previous destinations have included Xiamen and Jakarta.

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2021 dates.

Make an enquiry

Contact us for more information about this course.


Learn more about our truly global university.

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HESA data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18, published by HESA in June 2020.