• Planning Banner.jpg

Diploma in Planning


School of the Built Environment

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) accredited

This postgraduate diploma aims to extend the skills, knowledge and critical understanding of planning that you developed on an undergraduate course to a professional level of expertise.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Planning is centred on core modules that provide an in-depth understanding of professional planning practice and students also have the opportunity to broaden out their skills and knowledge by specialising in a specific area of planning practice.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

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

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Strong career prospects in international planning and environmental consultancies, government agencies, local government, NGOs and campaigning organisations.
  • Brookes' Department of Planning performs a leading role in research and consultancy, with clients and projects covering subjects from local concerns to multinational organisations, government and industry.
  • We feed our research directly into our teaching enabling you to learn directly from the most current areas of practice.
  • Experience of current practice and the professional world is gained through fieldwork, study visits and visiting speakers.
  • Oxford, with its excellent transport links to all regions of the UK, is a particularly convenient place to study for part-time students on day release from work.

The course is made up of two areas of study: core compulsory studies and specialisation studies. Because the course is run in tandem with other graduate courses offered by the department you will, for the specialisation modules, work alongside students who are on other specialist master's programmes.

As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from what is shown here.

Core modules:
  • Development Economics, Management and Finance 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 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 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.
Specialisation modules:

As a postgraduate diploma student, you are offered a high degree of choice and flexibility in terms of your area of specialisation. You are required to complete 40 Credits of modules from the following list (subject to availability and student numbers).

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. Groups produce design policy, site analysis, site proposals at appropriate scales and design rationales for the site in question.
  • Urban Design Theory I introduces the theoretical concepts underpinning current urban design practice approaches. The module includes the history and theory of urban design, the introduction of design approaches such as responsive environments, and urban morphology.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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. The unit also provides an opportunity for you to develop their own skills in briefing for historic locations and in developing graphic presentation/design skills.
  • 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. It also examines the public policy framework to achieve implementation of conservation and regeneration objectives and the agencies involved in the process.
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.

Teaching and learning

The emphasis of this course is on small group teaching and active learning to help students acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. A variety of methods are used with project work and workshops tending to predominate, using topical national and local issues as a basis. Further experience of current practice and the professional world is gained through fieldwork, study visits and visiting speakers.

Teaching is organised on a module-credit basis involving three-hour teaching blocks delivered over a 12-week period. 

Approach to assessment

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 and practical exercises.

Field trips

Some of the modules may have compulsory day trips associated with them. The transport element is included in the fee.

Additional Cost

Students will need to cover the costs of printing for submissions and presentations associated with assessment.

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.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £9,250 2020/21: £9,250 (subject to agreement by Office for Students)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £750 per single module 2020/21: £1,155 per single module

International - full time: 2019/20: £13,410 2020/21: £13,900

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Home/EU fees for 20/21 are subject to approval from the Office for Students (OfS) in September 2019. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students by up to 4%.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

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.

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

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.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

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.

How this course helps you develop

Not only is the Postgraduate Diploma in Planning a qualification for professional planners, it is also widely recognised as providing the transferable skills and critical knowledge and understanding necessary in many fields of work in the built and natural environment.


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 Department of Planning 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.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research areas and clusters

Key areas of expertise and scholarship in the department form the research groups and units listed below.

These research groups and units also comprise a substantial part of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD):

Impact Assessment Group
 is a designated EC Europa Centre of Excellence in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which brings together one of the largest teams of expertise in this field worldwide. Our research activity was independently assessed as being of ‘international standing’ in both the 2001 and 1996 Higher Education Funding Council for England Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) amongst UK universities. Our clients include, amongst others, the European Commission, UK Government/Agencies, local government and the commercial sector. (Director: Dr Graham Wood)

Spatial Planning Group
 brings together a wide range of intellectual and policy concerns within spatial planning and cognate fields, both nationally and internationally. Much of its work falls under the heading of sustainable development, with a particular focus on three major areas of study: Planning Thought and Governance; Economic Development, Innovation and Regeneration; and Accessibility, Transportation and Migration. The group reflects a commitment to recognise and build on cross-cutting and multidisciplinary interests within the broad remit of spatial planning, as well as advancing more established research strengths in specific fields. SPG members have a strong track record in research funding, including: ESRC, EPSRC, DCLG (ODPM), NESTA, JRF, British Academy, EIB, RTPI, and SEEDA. (Director: Dr Dave Valler)

Urban Design Group
 is one of the largest UK providers of research expertise in urban design and conservation matters. Our research activity was assessed as being excellent in the 2008 Higher Education Funding Council for England Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). Our clients include, amongst others, UK Government/Agencies, local government, the commercial sector and a number of international agencies, governments and research councils. (Director: Prof Georgia Butina Watson)

The Department of Planning has links with universities worldwide, including Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan, Romanian, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland and most EU member states. There are exciting opportunities for collaborative research, exchanges and study overseas. The department has an impressive list of funders and clients covering UK and EU government, research funding councils, industry and local government.