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Key facts

Start dates

September 2023



Course length

Full time: 12 months, concentrated with lectures delivered on two days per week

Part time: 24 months, delivered on day-release over two years


The Postgraduate Diploma in Planning provides an in-depth understanding of professional planning practice. It develops the skills, knowledge and critical understanding, that you gained on an undergraduate course, to a professional level of expertise.

You'll study core modules that provide an in-depth understanding of professional planning practice. While fieldwork, study visits and visiting speakers give you experience of current practice and the professional world. You will also have the opportunity to specialise in a specific area of planning practice.

The School of the Built Environment takes a leading role in research and consultancy. Our clients and projects cover local concerns to multinational organisations, government and industry. We feed our research directly into our teaching meaning you'll learn from the most current areas of practice.

The course will prepare you for career prospects in:

  • international planning and environmental consultancies
  • government agencies
  • local government
  • NGOs
  • campaigning organisations.
Planning, PGDip degree course students using an iPad to learn on campus Oxford Brookes University

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

The course is primarily open to candidates progressing from the final year of an RTPI-approved undergraduate programme at Oxford Brookes.

These will be our Bachelor programmes in:

  • BA (Hons) Plannning and Property Development
  • BA (Hons) Urban Design, Planning and Development

or - graduates from our recent past courses, such as BA (Hons) City and Regional Planning

Students who have graduated from equivalent programmes at other universities, and whose transfer has been approved by the department in collaboration with the RTPI - are also welcome to apply. 
In all cases, a minimum of a 2.2 (Hons) is required.

Non-Brookes applicants will usually apply for our outright MSc in Spatial Planning course.

Students with planning experience and/or other degrees and qualifications may be accepted. Their applications are normally considered on the basis of the syllabus and pass mark of the student's earlier course or the presentation of a folio of work.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in all components.


An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course

Learning and assessment

The course is made up of two areas of study:

  • core compulsory studies
  • specialisation studies.

The course runs in tandem with other graduate courses offered by the department. So for the specialisation modules, you will work alongside students from other specialist master's courses.

Planning, PGDip degree course students reading in a classroom on campus Oxford Brookes University

Study modules

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Development Economics, Management and Finance

This module examines the general elements of economic development and management which are applicable in a local government and development setting. You will  focus on communication and negotiation techniques required in the implementation of policy. Financial frameworks and controls exercised by local and central government are also considered.

Contemporary Issues in Planning Law, Practice and Research

This module gives you the opportunity to study emerging issues in spatial planning and to develop your own skills in the analysis of planning debates and in problem-solving techniques. The module is practice based and examines key issues in planning practice including the legal and policy context of development control and forward planning, and probity in professional practice.

Implementation Project

This module represents a project of professional advice for a client according to a pre-set brief in the form of a report of 7,500 words maximum. The module provides an important link between the generality of the implementation of policies and proposals and your specialist knowledge. The content of the report will normally depend on your choice of elective specialisation.

Optional modules

Urban Design

  • Urban Design Studio I is project-based, applying the theoretical and operational concepts of urban design to a live study site of more than 10 hectares. 
  • Urban Design Theory I introduces the theoretical concepts underpinning current urban design practice approaches. 
  • Urban Design Theory II explores design issues in more detail, including design for the sensory experience of space, problematic building types and mixed use, density issues, regeneration, guiding and promoting urban design development, sustainability in urban design, coding and briefing, etc.
  • Urban Design Development consists of a set of specialist topic seminars. The specialist topics will vary but will normally cover coding and briefing, issues of local identity, urban landscape design, movement and mobility, and emerging issues concerned with the provision of good urban design in relation to globalisation.

Environmental Decision-Making

  • Environmental Assessment examines the organisation, preparation, presentation, prediction, assessment and decision-making in environmental assessment techniques. Key skills in screening, scoping, review and the methods of assessment for noise, landscape, archaeology, ecology, traffic and socio-economic impacts are emphasised.
  • Environmental Law and Decision-Making examines the international, European and UK legal context of environmental decision-making. This considers the development of environmental law from international treaties and conventions into European and UK legislation. In particular, the module focuses on key areas of environmental law and the assessment procedures established by European directives.

Historic Conservation

  • Design for Conservation provides an introduction to the differing philosophies underlying approaches to building in historic places, and familiarises students with the concepts of townscape appraisal and urban design. It examines the role of design guides, design codes and site briefs in securing 'appropriate' development in sensitive historic locations. 
  • Conservation Economics provides an introduction to financial and economic aspects specific to the conservation of buildings and areas including construction costing, development appraisal for the use of historic buildings and the particular characteristics of conservation area land markets. The module combines with Historic Conservation in Context which provides an introduction and critical examination of the legal measures which preserve and enhance the historic environment. The module includes a review of how these powers may operate in practice is also provided. 

Urban Planning in Developing and Transitional Regions

  • Development and Urbanisation examines the theories, processes and consequences of rapid urbanisation in the developing world within the context of economic development and social change.
  • Urban Land Policy and Urban Management examines the processes of urban land development under conditions of rapid urban growth. The concept and development of land policy is examined.

Tourism Planning

Sustainable Tourism Planning examines the growth, development and impact of tourism, introducing students to the broad issues affecting the planning and development of tourism as a base-line understanding of tourism planning and sustainable development. Core elements include a discussion on tourism's impacts (economic, social and environmental), issues of sustainability, carrying capacity, eco-tourism and other alternative forms of tourism.

Urban Regeneration

  • Introduction to Regeneration introduces the context within which urban regeneration takes place and examines different approaches to securing desired change. Contemporary policies, objectives, strategies, funding and agencies are introduced and critically analysed.
  • Regeneration and Neighbourhoods critically examines key issues in current regeneration theory, policy and practice, focusing on neighbourhood renewal and people-based approaches to regeneration. As well as looking at particular initiatives the module explores issues involved in community participation in regeneration.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

We use small group teaching and active learning to help you gain the necessary knowledge and skills.

Our teaching is organised on a module-credit basis. This involves three-hour teaching blocks delivered over a 12 week period.

We use topical national and local issues as a basis for our teaching. And our teaching methods include:

  • project work
  • workshops tending to predominate
  • fieldwork
  • study visits
  • visiting speakers.

Field trips

Some of the modules may have compulsory day trips associated with them. The transport element comes at no additional cost.


Assessment methods used on this course

Each module is assessed individually, generally on the quality of written or design work, and to some extent on verbal presentations. Assessment methods may include:

  • essays
  • seminar papers
  • formal written examinations
  • in-class tests
  • project work
  • design and verbal presentations
  • workshops
  • simulations
  • practical exercises.


The School of the Built Environment combines outstanding teaching with world-class research and strong connections with leading members across the industry.

Our research groups and units comprise a substantial part of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD), one of the UK’s largest academic research institutes dedicated to sustainable development in the built environment.

Research groups that relate to this area include:

After you graduate

Further study

Local government, the traditional destination of the planning graduate, is just one of many career opportunities available to Postgraduate Diploma in Planning graduates. Today our alumni can be found in senior positions in some of the largest international planning and environmental consultancies, in government agencies, in large NGOs and campaigning organisations. They can also be found in similar positions and organisations in countries across the globe.

The long-standing reputation of the School of the Built Environment in producing highly skilled, enthusiastic and very capable professional planners aids the employability of our graduates. We are the first port of call for many employers when they are seeking new graduate planners.

Our Staff

Professor Sue Brownill

Sue Brownill is Professor of Urban Policy and Governance whose research and teaching interests focus on the interaction of communities with urban planning and regeneration. She is also one of the Postgraduate Research Tutors for the School with responsibilities for leading the PhD programme and co-ordinating and delivering doctoral research methods training.

Read more about Sue

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.