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Birkbeck, University of London: Sustainable Cities

Institution Birkbeck, University of London View institution profile
Department School of Social Sciences
Telephone 0203 907 0700
Study type Taught


The impacts of climate change on cities are a critical challenge in the twenty-first century affecting the ways of living and livelihoods of more than half the population on the planet. Floods, droughts, inadequate housing, food insecurity and energy crises are now part of the everyday life of urban citizens.

Our MSc Sustainable Cities offers you the opportunity to understand such environmental risks and how their impacts are unevenly distributed across geographies and social demographics, such as race, class, religion and gender.

The MSc Sustainable Cities combines social and environmental approaches to understanding and responding to the climate crisis in highly unequal cities. On the core modules you will be taught by academics active in their research and keen to share their insights on:

  • political ecology

  • climate change

  • environmental sustainability

  • urban inequality

  • critical geography

  • food security and urban governance.

You will explore different theoretical approaches in urban sustainability, apply conceptual tools to distinct challenges engendered by the intersection of climate change and urbanisation, and learn about the limitations and strengths of adaptative solutions, environmental policies and initiatives.

You will be able to put your knowledge into practice investigating the key sustainability challenges faced by London with field trips focusing on the River Thames, a place where critical infrastructures for sustainability coalesce.


  • This interdisciplinary degree brings together the unique expertise of staff members working on human geography, environmental studies, GIS and development to discuss how both environmental and social concerns must inform a strategy towards a more sustainable urban future.

  • We thrive on the breadth of research interests of our staff in this area. This means that we offer a wide range of postgraduate courses in geography, as well as allowing our students to engage with other disciplines such as anthropology and international development. We offer multiple approaches to the study of societies and cultures, human geography, and sustainability, poverty and development, as well as community and citizenship, at local, regional and global levels.

  • We are proud of our vibrant research culture, powered by a shared passion for learning and intellectual engagement among our academics and students. We have a strong commitment to social justice, which is demonstrated in much of our research.

  • Our location in central London offers you excellent access to a wide range of research resources, including Birkbeck Library, LSE Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE), the Royal Geographical Society and Senate House Library (University of London).

Careers and employability

MSc Sustainable Cities graduates can pursue career paths in:

  • central and local government, consultancy firms, NGOs, urban planning, civil service and international organisations

  • research in universities and other public and private research bodies

  • teaching in higher, further and secondary education

  • community organising and activism.

We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.


Birkbeck, part of the University of London, offers nearly 300 taught and research postgraduate programmes across arts and humanities, business and economics, law, science and social science. As an evening teaching specialist, Birkbeck offers its taught postgraduate courses between 6-9pm, with some courses available through distance learning. As with undergraduate courses, postgraduates can study full-time or part-time.

Home to 44 research and specialist institutes, Birkbeck is the sixth largest provider of taught postgrad courses for UK and EU students - some 44% of its 11,000-plus students are on postgrad programmes. Around 90% of its academics are active in research, and …

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