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Infrastructure Planning and Sustainable Development

MSc or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

January 2023 / September 2023

Course length

Full time: 12 months (Sept start), 17 months (Jan start)

Part time: 24 months (Sept start), 29 months (Jan start) (distance learning only)


Fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

  • The Royal Town Planning Institute


Our MSc Infrastructure Planning and Sustainable Development offers a new approach to studying infrastructure planning and delivery. It is designed to make the step change needed to meet the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.

The course is ideal if you have or are seeking a career in the field of infrastructure planning and international development in:

  • government
  • the private sector
  • NGOs
  • multilateral and bilateral development agencies.

By engaging with new and innovative thinking on infrastructure, you'll learn to respond to the imperatives of rapidly growing cities. And in doing so achieve poverty alleviation, ecological sustainability and local economic growth.

Our core teaching offers a unique mix of theoretical perspectives and practical skills covering:

  • governance
  • human development
  • ecological sustainability
  • finance
  • programme/project planning.

You'll be prepared to engage with more holistic approaches to decision making and problem solving. So you can deliver infrastructure that provides for both inclusive and sustainable development.

Two female students discussing work on a laptop

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

The course is open to applicants who hold a 2.1 undergraduate honours degree (or international equivalent).

We will actively consider applications from candidates with lower degrees, who can effectively portray suitable credentials, and usually have an appropriate professional background.

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

There is no formal application deadline. We advise applying in good advance to secure places.

Applicants should factor in any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Student visa (if applicable). Distance learning study can sometimes close sooner than on-campus study, as it requires additional Faculty preparation.

The January 2023 intake for our on-campus programmes is closed. To apply for our January distance learning programme please email

Apply now

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,400 (Masters); £8,400 (Diploma); £4,700 (Certificate)

Home (UK) distance learning part time

International full time

International distance learning part time

Home (UK) full time
£9,800 (Masters); £8,800 (Diploma); £4,900 (Certificate)

Home (UK) distance learning part time

International full time

International distance learning part time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time
£9,400 (Masters); £8,400 (Diploma); £4,700 (Certificate)

Home (UK) distance learning part time

International full time

International distance learning part time

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,800 (Masters); £8,800 (Diploma); £4,900 (Certificate)

Home (UK) distance learning part time

International full time

International distance learning part time

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

There are two modes of delivery for the MSc Infrastructure Planning and Sustainable Development:

  • full-time on campus
  • open learning (distance learning).

The modules are self-contained so you can start the course either in September or January.

All students have the option to participate in one international field trip and four intensive study periods (one per module).

Student working on a computer

Start this course in January

You have the option to start this course in January. You will study a range of modules between January and May. During the summer months of June, July and August you will study further modules and begin work on your dissertation. Between September and December you will complete your final modules and focus on your dissertation.

Study modules

The course consists of: four core modules; research methods; and a final dissertation.

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Sustainable Development (30 credits)

This module explores the relationships between urban infrastructure delivery, pro-poor development, environmental change and local economic growth. This provides the grounding for a more holistic approach to infrastructure planning. A key element to this is the teaching of new ways of thinking about infrastructure delivery that draw on emerging global thinking based on systems theory; circular models, decentralised approaches; collaboration and accountability.

Infrastructure Finance (30 credits)

This module takes a problem based learning approach to equip participants with the grounded understanding of the theory and practice of financing the development, renewal, repair and maintenance of infrastructure. It examines how infrastructure is financed as well as alternative funding models, cost recovery options, and sources of finance. The module also examines the roles of key actors and reviews the approaches, methods and tools used for decision making in a variety of different contexts and under conditions of uncertainty.

Governance and Political Economy (30 credits)

This module aims to provide participants with a firm understanding of governance and decision-making processes involved in the planning and delivery of different types of infrastructure. It is informed by political economy and institutional frameworks and grounded in theories and practices of different methods for addressing broader societal impacts that arise from infrastructure delivery. It will explore different approaches to participation of stakeholders to enable more informed and inclusive decision-making based on optimum compromises for infrastructure delivery that is to the benefit of the local and wider urban communities.

Development in Practice (30 credits)

The aims of this module are to develop your understanding of the role of infrastructure in development, and to equip you with a working knowledge of the key frameworks and approaches used to design and implement local development programmes and projects. The module allows you to experiment with bringing together your broad knowledge base and skills and applying it to an actual project. You will begin by learning how to research and critically assess a development context using participatory and other approaches. This critical analysis is then used to design an infrastructure project which takes into account development goals and addresses the challenges of infrastructure delivery on the project site.

Applied Research Methods (10 credits)

This module provides you with the fundamentals of research design highlighting the difference between qualitative and quantitative research paradigms and demonstrates how data can be both gathered and analysed and how deductive arguments can be used to produce valid generalisations from data. It also provides you with an overview of particular research techniques such that you can choose and develop those tools most appropriate to your Dissertation.

Final project

Compulsory modules

Dissertation (50 credits)

The Dissertation follows on from Applied Research Methods and aims not only to generate new knowledge or insights, but also to develop your capacities to undertake rigorous research, to plan and execute an extended project and to communicate complex ideas effectively in words and graphically. You will work with a supervisor from within the School to produce an original piece of work of publishable quality, generally, through conducting your own primary research and presenting your findings in a professional manner.

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 an 'applied' approach to learning, sometimes called 'problem based learning' or PBL. It leads to a more challenging and industry relevant experience. You'll learn in groups and work through problems adapted from complex real situations and case studies. 

Full time

Our teaching methods include:

  • lectures
  • webinars
  • online discussion forums
  • skills workshops
  • seminars
  • practical and project work.

Your time will usually consist of:

  • two 2-hour weekly sessions for each of the two core modules
  • one 1½ hour session for research methods
  • independent learning and work on coursework assignments

Distance learning

Online learning material is provided via our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Teaching methods include:

  • webinars
  • recorded lectures
  • discussion forums
  • Question and Answer sessions
  • online collaboration with peers for assessments.

You will have the opportunity for face-to-face contact within the Intensive Study Periods.

Field trips

International Field Trip

This a great learning opportunity which usually takes place during the Easter break. We expect that most students from your cohort will take part.

Intensive Study Periods

Twice a year open-learners are invited to join full-time students on campus for a three-day intensive study period. 

These activities carry an extra cost. Please see the Additional costs section of this page for more details.


Assessment methods used on this course

You will be assessed solely by coursework. There are no examinations on the programme due to the problem-solving nature of our teaching methods.

You will develop and practice different skills based on the range of assessment methods which include:

  • report writing
  • verbal presentations
  • essays
  • journal entries
  • quizzes
  • collaborative group assignments.


The School of the Built Environment has an impressive list of funders and clients covering UK and EU government, research funding councils and industry.

  • the European Commission
  • UK Government/Agencies
  • local government
  • the commercial sector.

Research areas and clusters

Infrastructure and energy continue to be a key focus as they are the essential components of a rapidly urbanising world. 

Research groups:

We have links with universities worldwide so there are exciting opportunities for collaborative research, exchanges and study overseas.

After you graduate

Career prospects

Graduates of the School of the Built Environment have an outstanding employment record. To provide an example, usually 100% of the graduates of the MSc Project Management in the Built Environment are in employment within six months after graduation.

Local, national and international planning consultancies, construction companies, developers, project management consultancies, bilateral and multilateral development agencies and large NGOs all recruit our graduates.

Many of these organisations visit the School regularly to meet students for graduate positions. Our graduates are recognised as having an excellent level of communication, presentation and problem-solving skills.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

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.