London School of Economics

Dima Zogheib of the LSE
Dima Zogheib of the LSE

In the mid-1990s The Ove Arup Foundation, along with the Barings Foundation, helped the London School of Economics (LSE) establish the Cities Programme, with Richard Burdett as Director. The main objective of the programme is to link the urban social sciences with the design of cities’ built environment and infrastructure.

By cutting across departmental and disciplinary boundaries, the Cities Programme is able to draw on the LSE’s internationally renowned expertise in urban governance and policy, as well as its standing as an international centre of excellence in the social sciences.

Located in the Department of Sociology, the programme offers post-graduate academic courses, hosts public events and engages in research and consultancy. Graduates will find career opportunities within a wide range of urban design, planning and development agencies and consultancies.

In 1998, the Cities Programme began a Masters degree in City Design and Social Science. Roughly half the year-long degree is spent on urban design projects in a studio format, with the other half comprising formal coursework in the social sciences. The studio projects are based on actual design issues in London, and regular classes are supported by a programme of informal seminars and site visits.

Since its inception, the course has attracted students from around the world and from a range of backgrounds, reflecting the variety of intellectual and professional skills involved in urban policy, design and development.

One alumnus, Dima Zogheib (pictured), felt that the Cities Programme “broadened my interest and knowledge in the social aspect of city design.

“The programme is unique in many ways, especially in its lateral approach to city design, its location in the heart of the sociology department at LSE, and the multidisciplinary backgrounds of the student selection.”

Applicants need English language skills and a good first degree, or equivalent professional qualifications, in any relevant field of architecture, urban design, planning, engineering, social science, management, mathematics, statistics or natural science. Relevant professional experience will also be taken into account.

The Ove Arup Foundation’s initial five-year funding of the Cities Programme was followed up with funding towards a visiting design professorship. That the three individuals appointed in successive years were the distinguished architects David Mackay and Sir Charles Correa, followed by leading engineer Cecil Balmond, is testimony to the quality of the course and the LSE’s commitment to it.

Currently the Foundation is helping to finance the remodelled Urban Infrastructure element of the course.

To find out more about the course and the Cities Programme, visit