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Postgraduate Study

About the Department of Land Economy

The Department of Land Economy is a leading international centre, providing a full programme of taught courses within an intensive, research-oriented environment. In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework assessment, 67% of the Department’s research work was described as “World Leading” and a further 31% as “Internationally Excellent.

Land Economy, as a subject, considers the role and use of land, real estate and environment within an economy. It applies particularly the disciplines of  economics, law and planning for the analysis of the governance of land use, urban areas and interactions with other environmental resources.

The Department addresses contemporary problems as well as more fundamental analysis. This includes both the role of  governments in establishing regulatory frameworks within which land and related  markets operate and the role of private organisations in owning, managing and developing physical and financial assets within those markets. This combination gives the Department of Land Economy a unique and valuable perspective of critical public and private issues.

8 courses offered in the Department of Land Economy

The Climate, Environmental and Urban Policy programme is a Master of Studies (MSt) degree offered by the
Department of Land Economy. The Department is a world leader and the top UK research institution in its field
according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking. In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework assessment,
67% of the Department’s research was found to be “World Leading” and a further 31% “Internationally
Excellent”. In addition, it is research with real-life impact, with 87% of impact case-studies receiving the highest
ranking. By combining the strong interdisciplinary background of academics from the Department, the Centre for
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Governance (C-EENRG) and the broader University of Cambridge
with the practical expertise from the world-class Cambridge innovation cluster, the programme aims to provide a
unique perspective on the ongoing sustainability transformations, especially the low-carbon transition.


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Successful environmental policy depends on the ability of its makers to bring together scientific information, analytical thinking and an awareness of the economic, legal, social and political realities of environmental regulation. This course has been designed to provide intensive training in the relevant economic and legal concepts and techniques to equip you with the tools that will help you successfully design, implement and evaluate environmental policy in a variety of settings.

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This is a thesis-only MPhil and the Department will not admit students to it unless it can be satisfied that they have the necessary research skills, together with a clear vision of their topic and a good grasp of the appropriate methodology to explore it. Further details are given on the course page on the Department of Land Economy website.

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Land Economy offers a full-time and a part-time PhD programme. The Department currently has over 70 PhD students at different stages of the programme, working in a range of areas.

Our department leads the field in the UK's latest Research Excellence Framework rating of Land Economy's joint submission with Architecture. 87.5% of our impact case studies were judged to be 'world-leading', including research on the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Further information is given on the Department's website.

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This course combines taught elements and research methods training with a significant level of independent research. Students admitted to this course will be those who have a strong background in land economy-related subjects and who may already have some research experience. They will normally be those aspiring to and who have good prospects of proceeding to the PhD prior to an academic career.

Candidates study one core or two optional modules chosen from a list of options taught by the Department of Land Economy. They are also required to satisfactorily attend and complete the Social Sciences Research Methods Centre (SSRMP) training programme, and to complete a 20,000-word dissertation, supervised by one of the academic staff within the department. The dissertation will review the literature and develop research hypotheses, and possibly involve some preliminary data collection and analysis.

The SSRMP programme is described on the SSRMP website. Candidates must take six SSRMP core modules and produce a research methods essay of not more than 4,000 words as part of this programme. It is anticipated that the research training provided by the SSRMP plus the dissertation (20,000 words) and the choice of specialised modules from the other Land Economy MPhils will provide the necessary and sufficient background for commencing PhD research.

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The unequal distribution of income, jobs, and welfare across cities, places, and regions is one of the defining issues of our time, and it is increasingly seen as a waste of economic potential, as well as a challenge for social cohesion and sustainable development. The MPhil in Planning, Growth and Regeneration (PGR) is the flagship programme of the University of Cambridge aiming to address issues of urban and regional planning and development.

The programme is based on renowned planning research and practice at the Department of Land Economy, with input from leading planning and relevant professionals. It provides advanced skills training to professionals involved in managing local economic growth and regeneration through place-based public policy, regulating land use, and undertaking strategic planning at different subnational scales.

The course features a multidisciplinary approach which draws from Urban and Spatial Planning, Economics, and Geography, with additional specialism in Law, Finance, and Environmental Policy. It aims to enable students to 1) understand the nature, processes and challenges of planning, growth, and regeneration in an urban/regional context, 2) develop key analytical skills for assessing and devising spatial planning solutions based on international best practice; and 3) work cooperatively with relevant professionals to develop effective and just planning policy solutions.

Core and optional modules focus on both Global North and Global South policy examples and case studies, with the goal of identifying the different spatial planning and developmental challenges and opportunities at different urban, local, and regional scales. Most teaching material draws on original cutting-edge research carried out by lecturers and international best practices, combining quantitative and qualitative research methods.

The focus of the course is applied and policy-relevant, and graduates from PGR are expected to join private (such as consultancies, real estate developers and financial professionals) and public organisations (such as civil service and NGOs) leading spatial planning and development practice at the subnational, national, and international scale. PGR is also an excellent starting point for a career in postgraduate research in local and regional planning and development, with the possibility to progress to the PhD in Land Economy.

The programme is targeted at two groups of applicants. First, those who have finished a degree in a relevant discipline and aim to gain a better understanding of urban and regional planning and development, and build up applied research skills. Second, practitioners, managers and planners who have some work experience in relevant sectors and want to widen their current knowledge in the interdisciplinary environment of Land Economy.

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The Real Estate Master's Programme is a Master of Studies (MSt) course offered by the Department of Land Economy drawing on the multidisciplinary strength of the Department and the University.  It is aimed at experienced professionals and those identified as future leaders in the real estate industry and combines academic rigour with significant industry input. The course aims to equip participants with a broader knowledge of all aspects of the real estate industry, insight into a range of long-term themes and strategic issues in the market as well as developing a range of research and other skills.

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In a competitive international business environment, real estate professionals need a sophisticated understanding of finance, economics and law to succeed. The MPhil in Real Estate Finance has been designed to provide rigorous training in the latest concepts from these three key areas as applied to international real estate markets.

The course is aimed at those who may already have some experience or interest in real estate markets, banking or investment and wish to upgrade their skills, or for those who are looking to commence a career in this area. The programme offers an opportunity to study theoretical and practical finance, investment and law applied to global commercial real estate markets, while enjoying the cultural, social and recreational facilities of Cambridge. The course takes students from a wide variety of backgrounds: finance, geography, economics, law, biology, international business and mathematics. These students have in common a strong desire to work in property and investments coupled with strong academic skills.

Tuition in the programme is based around classroom lectures, practitioner presentations and site visits to ensure students can apply the theoretical concepts taught. The programme can also serve as an entry point into PhD training for those interested in pursuing research in real estate finance in greater depth.

The MPhil in Real Estate Finance course starts with a pre-sessional in late September.  The pre-sessional will be a week of in person events including an induction meeting with the REF team, foundational sessions, research presentations from lecturers, and group activities.

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1 course also advertised in the Department of Land Economy

From the British Antarctic Survey

This PhD course takes place under the joint supervision of a research scientist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and a University supervisor. Students may be based at BAS but will be registered for their degree with one of the partnering departments: Archaeology & Anthropology, Land Economy, Plant Sciences, Zoology, Earth Sciences, Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute, Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Computer Science and Technology.

BAS welcomes enquiries from those interested in higher degrees in earth science subjects, physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and related areas.

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Department Members

Professor David Howarth
Head of Department

  • 21 Academic Staff
  • 12 Postdoctoral Researchers
  • 148 Graduate Students
  • 140 Undergraduates