Cities: Governance, Planning and Design

The London School of Economics and Political Science

The London School of Economics and Political Science


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Who should attend

  • Senior executives searching for insight into how cities are governed and designed
  • International governments and intergovernmental organisations working in the field of urban development or sustainable urbanisation
  • Professionals within private sector companies, for example providers of city infrastructure
  • Individuals looking to understand the implications of rapid urban development on city governance.

About the course

An intensive exploration and analysis of the governance, planning and design of London, drawing parallels with and implications for other major cities.

Led by senior faculty members of both LSE Cities and LSE London, the course draws on world-class research work originated within these renowned LSE institutes. It will explore the longer-term development of London (in the context of other global cities) so as to provide students with an understanding of the key challenges facing both mature and rapidly-developing metropolitan areas.

Programme structure

Through lectures, seminars, workshops and site visits, the programme looks at how cities around the world are dealing with major urban challenges such as urban inequality, climate change and affordable housing. Through international project and policy case studies, students will gain a greater understanding of how cities are achieving long term sustainable outcomes through better analysis, planning and governance.

Major topics covered:


How different tiers of government work effectively to bring positive change. The course will look at the functioning of public-private coalitions; different leadership models; the consequences of particular government systems; the challenge of reform; fiscal autonomy and relations with other tiers of government.

Planning & design

How cities plan for long term goals in an integrated way and how does urban form shape social, economic and environmental outcomes. Topics include: city planning, branding and image; making the city liveable; density vs sprawl; tall buildings, skyline and streetscape; metropolitan vs neighbourhood needs; preserving a balance of land uses; heritage vs modernity; the benefits and challenges posed by private developers in driving redevelopment; citizen involvement in planning; justifying quality design against other priorities.


How cities finance and fund long term infrastructure. Topics include: how land use and infrastructure planning are brought together in integrated spatial plans; the development and maintenance of physical infrastructure; planning for rapid population growth; access to private finance; decision-making and climate change; private competition vs public management.


How cities coordinate their transport and development plans and promote compact and connected cities? Topics include: the co-benefits of transportation; dealing with congestion; assessing the appropriate role for private and public transport; planning ahead of population growth; shifting modalities from cars to sustainable transportation; cycling and walking; the use of fees and charges to provide incentives; the challenge of managing freight and deliveries.


How cities control increasing house prices. Topics include: managing land costs; subsidising homes for the poor; attracting and managing foreign buyers; density vs sprawl; matching housing to population growth and transport; regeneration of former industrial land and buildings.

Economic competitiveness

How cities promote inclusive growth? Topics include: competitive advantage of sectors; investment; better deal between the public and private sectors; innovation; the role of new industries; linking skills to jobs; the entrepreneurial city agency; development agencies and their role in economic development.

Virtual course structure

Rather than an intensive five-day course, the virtual courses will be delivered over four weeks and you will be able to manage them alongside your working hours.

Week one will be a course orientation where participants can access your pre-course readings and meet fellow classmates, as well as a live welcome session hosted by our world-leading faculty.

Following that, your course will be taught over the course of three weeks with 10 contact hours each week, matching the level of contact time you would get on an on-campus course. Teaching will typically occur on weekdays during regular UK university hours. During this time, you'll have dedicated slots to meet your fellow participants, a virtual event per programme, full technical support by phone, email or live-chat and a 'virtual graduation' ceremony to end the course.

Course outcomes

This five-day course will include classes given by the core teaching group; guest lectures by key members of London’s political, development, transport and housing sectors; and visits to London’s newest redevelopment areas surrounding King’s Cross, and the expanding Olympic Park development in East London. It will also enable you to:

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the key challenges facing both mature and rapidly-developing metropolitan areas
  • Build your awareness of the key challenges facing other large cities, notably the management of services, resource-raising, the management & planning of land, infrastructure development, migration, housing and the quality of the public realm
  • Understand the frameworks needed to consider the challenges posed to those who run major cities
  • Gain a greater understanding of the relationship between the physical and social development of cities
  • Acquire knowledge of city planning models
  • Gain a greater understanding of local government’s role in economic planning, and competitiveness.


Richard Burdett

Experience Keywords Cities, urban development, architecture and public space; architectural competitions and procurement; contemporary architectural culture; density and transport; design quality; regeneration and planning; relationship between urban environment and urban society; social cohesion...

Savvas Verdis

Awards Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Award Experience Keywords Economic Impact Assessment of Urban Development; Evaluation of urban development projects; Executive Training; Leadership Training; Quality of life in cities; Urban Consulting; training Research Summary Savvas has been teach...

Tony Travers

Awards Political Studies Association Award for Political Communication, 2008 Experience Keywords London; city government; local government; public finance; schools'' finance Research Summary Key research interests cover central and local government policy and finance, including a speciality...

Philipp Rode

Philipp Rode is Executive Director of LSE Cities and Associate Professorial Research Fellow at LSE. He is co-director of the LSE Executive MSc in Cities and co-convenes the LSE Sociology Course on ‘City Making: The Politics of Urban Form’. As researcher, consultant and advisor he has been direct...

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Cities: Governance, Planning and Design at The London School of Economics and Political Science

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