MSc in Mega Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Development
UCL’s Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Development MSc programme is unique in preparing students for the major infrastructural challenges ahead both globally and in the UK. The programme covers the critical areas of governance, politics, socio-economic and environmental development, funding, finance and strategic planning, and how sustainable development goals can and should be incorporated in investment decisions. It takes in frameworks and methodologies that bring risk and uncertainty into the milieu of complex decision-making. The programme offers a holistic approach to decision making and problem solving that lead to more robust investment outcomes across a range of infrastructure types, scales, systems and networks, including major and nationally significant infrastructures.
The programme is inter-disciplinary and international, aimed at developing a critical understanding of the theory and practice of infrastructure planning, implementation and the development associated with it. The MSc investigates questions regarding how ‘successful’ infrastructure developments can be defined from a range of perspectives given the significant and often fast-changing expectations placed upon such investments. It recognises that judgments about project ‘success’ need to be examined against different contexts. With this in mind, the programme aims to arm students with insights, knowledge and skills that will assist them to better plan, appraise and deliver future infrastructure in a manner that is sensitive to the risks, uncertainties and complexities of different contexts be they temporal, cultural or physical.
MSc in Mega Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Delivery (OMEGA Basal Legacy Programme)
The MSc Programme in Mega Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Delivery is a one-year full-time or two-to five-year modular/flexible international programme which has been designed to equip students with the multidisciplinary competences required to plan, appraise and deliver large-scale and complex infrastructure programmes and projects fit for the multiple challenges of the 21st Century. The MSc programme benefits from the findings of research conducted by the OMEGA Centre, also located in the Bartlett School of Planning at UCL, which has recently conducted case studies in decision-making in mega project developments in ten economies in Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America.
Physical Infrastructure networks comprise roads, railways, metros, pipelines, ports and airports, bridges, tunnels, hydroelectric facilities, nuclear power plants, refineries, water and wastewater delivery and treatment systems which together with their often highly complex supporting organisational structures (soft infrastructure) form the backbone of a modern economy. Mega infrastructure is a particular class of high profile infrastructure asset which typically costs in excess of US$1Bn and attracts a high level of public attention and political interest. This is not solely due to their high cost, but principally because of their substantial and long lasting direct and indirect development impacts on communities, environments economies and institutions at local, regional, national and international levels acting very often as strategic agents of change. Examples of such megaprojects include: the Channel Tunnel a 50km undersea rail tunnel linking the UK and France; the 4150 km Trans-Siberian pipeline; the US$40 billion Songdo International Business District developing 610 hectares of reclaimed land in South Korea; the US$22 billion Boston Big Dig, the most expensive highway project in the USA; the US$16 billion Belo Monte hydroelectric dam complex currently under construction in Brazil; the King Shaka International Airport serving Durban (South Africa); the 75 km Dubai Metro, the world’s longest fully automated metro network; the 1300km Beijing to Shanghai High Speed Railway linking China’s two most important cities.
The growing demand for such megaprojects together with the risks and uncertainties that they often face, in particular concerning the multiple challenges of achieving sustainable development, make this MSc programme extremely timely in producing a new breed of mega infrastructure professionals able to understand and deliver the key ingredients for megaproject success. Recent innovative research by the OMEGA Centre has found many previous mega project practices to be inflexible, too narrowly focused and insensitive to critical contexts. These deficiencies have presented infrastructure specialists and policy makers with major concerns about how we should plan, appraise and deliver more robust, holistic and sustainable mega infrastructure investments across all sectors, and how existing investments might be retrofitted to better service such goals. It is envisaged that graduates of this programme will be very well placed to help broker the numerous different stakeholder interests to arrive at more holistic, robust and sustainable megaproject outcomes, employing new appraisal methodologies throughout all parts of the project lifecycle that go well beyond traditional techniques.
The MSc programme is directed by Professor Harry T. Dimitriou, who has taught, researched and practised internationally in the field of infrastructure development for over 30 years and held numerous advisory and consultancy positions, including for the World Bank, UNDP, UN-Habitat, Harvard Institute for International Development, Hong Kong Government, Government of Indonesia, and UK Regional Development Agencies. It is supported by other distinguished teaching contributions from the Bartlett School of Planning as well as contributions from the OMEGA Centre Research Team plus numerous practitioners of national and international repute. The programme offers a multi-disciplinary teaching approach and innovative planning and appraisal methods to megaproject development, using a number of project case studies, and direct classroom contributions from over 30 leading experts from a variety of fields including: international development agencies, investment banking, pension fund management, property development, knowledge management, war Studies, government (HM Treasury, transport consultancy, planning consultancy, civil engineering and asset management consultancy. The MSc seeks to offer an invaluable grounded qualification for new entrants into the field and also to enhance those currently working in/within the megaproject development profession. Past students have used the course as a conversion programme from other professions to the mega infrastructure field.
The MSc Programme in Mega Infrastructure Planning, Appraisal and Delivery draws on contemporary research in the field of mega infrastructure development from both the OMEGA Centre and other leading research institutions – with the aim to develop a critical understanding of mega infrastructure theory and practice. It investigates the fundamental question of ‘what constitutes a “successful” mega infrastructure project, in light of the many and fast changing expectations that different stakeholders have of such investments in the 21st Century, not least in seeking to contribute to sustainable development. The programme is inter-disciplinary and international, and recognises that any judgements about Mega Infrastructure ‘success’ need to be examined with full consideration of multiple contexts. Therefore, the programme aims to equip students with the means to prepare ‘appropriate’ planning, appraisal and delivery responses that are not only robust but especially sensitive to risks, uncertainties and complexities.
The main learning outcomes include:
Acquisition of understanding of the fundamental characteristics of mega projects, plans and programmes.
Attainment of clear overview of past and contemporary challenges and trends in the theories and practice of mega infrastructure planning, appraisal and delivery.
Understanding of the contribution that such initiatives make to environmental, social, economic and institutional objectives at local, national and global scales.
Acquisition of basic knowledge of the international, national and regional policies and legislative frameworks, plus market contexts that surround mega infrastructure development.
Appreciation of the diversity of stakeholders’ agendas and of the interrelationships and tensions between local, national and global objectives.
Enhanced understanding of the critical issues concerning sustainable infrastructure investment at all scales.
Attainment of generic skills of strategic planning and risk management distilled from other professions and disciplines where risk, uncertainty and complexity are at the heart of their planning.
Grounding in traditional and contemporary infrastructure planning and appraisal methods and techniques including: Financial, Economic and Social Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA), Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and Social Impact Assessment (SIA).
Introduction to application of innovative methods and techniques to infrastructure planning, appraisal and monitoring, including: Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA), Stakeholder and Issue Analysis and policy-led MCA that facilitate the transparent trade-off between different project stakeholder priorities, aims and needs across the sectors and levels of development in a more holistic manner.
The course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a ‘specialist’ fourth year for graduate students who have successfully completed an RTPI-accredited three-year undergraduate course.
Accreditation by the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) has been confirmed as a result of the programme meeting the further learning requirements for students who have completed undergraduate studies in an approved engineering school. This will enable engineering graduates to satisfy the academic requirements for Chartered Engineer status and corporate membership of either the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, and or the Institute of Highway Engineers.
The MPhil/PhD in Planning Studies is designed for graduates of any discipline who wish to make a career in planning or in related fields in teaching or research.
In common with a number of other UK Universities, UCL does not admit students directly onto a PhD programme in the first instance, but requires all research students to first enrol for an MPhil degree.
After having completed the first year, the majority of students do not complete the MPhil and instead go through a process of transferring (upgrading) to the PhD programme.
Providing satisfactory progress has been made in the first year, the transfer of registration from MPhil to PhD is usually approved. The normal time allocated for doing this MPhil/PhD programme is three years full time and five years part time.
Activities and Events for Research Students
There are many regular seminar series held at the Bartlett School of Planning which are open to all research students.
In addition, there are a number of initiatives instigated by, or run especially for, research students. Details of these activities for research students can be found on our website. All this contributes to a lively research environment in the Bartlett School of Planning.