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Spatial Planning


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: 24 months (Sept start), 29 months (Jan start)


Fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  • The Royal Town Planning Institute


Designed in collaboration with leading industry professionals, this MSc in Spatial Planning is a varied and interdisciplinary course that prepares you for work as a planner in a wide range of roles.

Accredited by the RTPI, the course centres on the role of spatial planning in tackling the key challenges that our built and natural environments are facing in the coming decades. Throughout the course you’ll gain the wide-ranging knowledge and skills that you need to succeed as a practitioner in the planning profession. 

With a focus on employability and a teaching team that includes experienced practitioners and high-profile researchers, the course curriculum is at the cutting edge of practice. It develops an international perspective on the field of spatial planning and provides you with the flexibility to develop specialist expertise that complements your interests and ambitions.

Our graduates work in a wide range of government roles, both in the UK and abroad, as well as in private sector planning and related fields such as design and property development. 

Student using specialist software on a computer

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) in any discipline, as well as those seeking continuing professional development.

We will actively consider applications from candidates with lower degrees, who can evidence relevant planning and development experience.

Applications will also be considered from those who have no first degree but have three or more years' professional experience in planning and a Certificate in Spatial Planning Studies.

The MSc Spatial Planning programme attracts students from a wide and varied range of disciplinary backgrounds, including geography, environmental sciences, architecture and design, economics and politics. We also encourage applications from those already in employment (in planning or related fields) and seeking to further their professional development. A diversity of interests and skills is welcomed in this interdisciplinary programme.

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

We advise applying in advance to secure places, and allow sufficient time for applications to be reviewed.

There is no formal application deadline (recruitment closes when teaching capacity is reached). 

Applicants should also factor any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Student visa (if applicable).

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

Home (UK) part time

Home (UK) distance learning

International full time

International distance learning

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

Home (UK) distance learning

International full time

International distance learning

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

Home (UK) distance learning

International full time

International distance learning

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

Home (UK) distance learning

International full time

International distance learning

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

Master's degree (MSc)
You must complete:
3 compulsory modules
research methods module
elective specialisation module
a 15,000-word master's dissertation.

Full time master’s students will have two teaching days each week during semester - one for each 30 credit module. 

Part time and Distance Learning students will have one teaching day each week during semester. 

Distance learners will enrol in the same modules as part-time students and will have the opportunity to participate in real-time lectures and workshops. You’ll also have the option to view recorded sessions so that you can engage in your studies at the times and pace that suit you.

For all students, a typical teaching day will consist of four hours of teaching time. In addition, you will have 1-2 hour Research Methods sessions in certain weeks.

Female student studying on a laptop with headphones on

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

Taught Modules

Compulsory modules

Place Making (30 credits)

This module develops an appreciation of the role of urban design and place making in the creation and protection of high quality urban environments. Centring on a ‘live’ site with significant redevelopment potential, the module equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to appraise the character and quality of a place, and to generate imaginative and integrative visions for its future.

Planning for Sustainable Futures: Environment, Health and Society (30 credits)

This module builds understanding of the concept and principles of sustainability, including the various dimensions of sustainability that are integral to spatial planning and the interconnections between them. It develops skills in the interpretation and practice of sustainable development and understanding of the changing socio-political and environmental context within which spatial plans are generated and implemented.

Planning Frameworks: Law, Policy and Professional Practice (30 credits)

This module familiarises students with the legal, governance and professional contexts in and through which planning systems operate, as well as developing the core knowledge, skills and behaviours that planners need in professional practice. While special reference is made to planning frameworks and approaches in England and the UK, the module has an integral comparative dimension and various other planning systems internationally are  considered throughout.

Research Methods (10 credits)

This module provides students with a practical knowledge of the key research methods and skills applicable to spatial planning and related fields. The module develops a critical awareness and core understanding of different research philosophies, approaches and methods, in order to promote the design and delivery of effective research projects. On completion of the module, students will have developed the knowledge and skills needed to perform effectively as an independent researcher, a professional responsible for commissioning research and as a critical consumer of research.

Optional modules

Contemporary Approaches to Urban Design (30 credits)

The aim of this module is to provide the theoretical, practical and applied skills to enable the emerging professional to critically assess and develop urban design interventions. Theory and practice merge to become essential tools and perspectives for evaluating urban conditions in relation to place making. In this module, students learn to shape theory and practice to develop an urban design framework for critical analysis, evaluation as well as a coherent means for creating design interventions and understanding its impact.

Effective and Proportionate Environmental Impact Assessment (30 credits)

This module explores the systematic process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) / Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and the conceptual foundations of effectiveness in order to promote understanding of the development planning and design cycles where EIA / ESIA has greatest potential to shape sustainable outcomes. UK and international legislation and different sector guidance are examined to establish key dimensions of best practice. The module stresses the importance of EIA / ESIA scoping and impact mitigation across a range of biophysical and social components of the environment. Risk reduction strategies and the challenge of uncertainty are considered, along with approaches to assess and manage the cumulative effects of development. Reflecting notions of EIA / ESIA as an on-going management tool, the module considers the role of post-consent monitoring and evaluation. Issues of EIA / ESIA quality and expert competency within professional practice are examined. 

Sustainable Development (30 credits)

The challenge of sustainable development in the current global juncture is to eradicate poverty whilst rebuilding the ecosystems and natural resources that we depend on. This requires a step change in our approach to urban infrastructure – both the building of new infrastructure and the maintenance and upgrading of existing systems. The aim of this module is to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to respond to this challenge in cities, facilitating 12 infrastructure strategies which integrate concerns for social equity, ecological sustainability and local economic growth. The module draws particular attention to the role of infrastructure in the achievement of sustainable urban development and the opportunities for innovation in infrastructure delivery. A key element to this is the teaching of new ways of thinking about infrastructure delivery that draw on emerging global action norms based on systems thinking.

Urban Regeneration and Historic Conservation (30 credits)

This module locates conservation practice in the context of strategies for physical, cultural and social regeneration. It introduces students to key conservation and regeneration principles, strategies and impacts, exposes them to case studies from around the world, and develops their ability to think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to regeneration and conservation. A major focus is on the delivery of conservation/regeneration projects and the skills and issues involved, including finance and economics, community paritcipation, and the linking of physical with social regeneration. The module brings these aspects together through coursework that involves drawing up a regeneration proposal for an historic site at the local scale.

Note: The Urban Regeneration and Historic Conservation specialisation option will be available from 2022 onwards.

Final project

Compulsory modules

Dissertation (50 credits)

This module follows on from Research Methods and involves students undertaking
and writing up a significant piece of independent research. The topic and focus of the
dissertation will have been established through Assignment 2 in the Research Methods module,
and should be related to the student’s area of specialisation earlier in the programme. The
detailed research proposal submitted by students as part of Research Methods provides much of the
direction needed to complete the dissertation in terms of research scope and programme. With
this as a basis, each student works with an academic supervisor to produce an original piece of
work through conducting their own primary research and reporting the findings and implications.

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

This course has been designed to develop your professional skills and knowledge of the sector to allow you to succeed in your career ambitions. We use a variety of teaching and learning approaches to deliver a theoretically informed and practice-focused programme. These include workshops, seminars, design studios, lectures and online discussion forums. 

All students have access to the course’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to gain access to teaching and learning materials, and discussion forums, at times that best suit you.

Throughout the programme, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and work with students from across the course. You’ll also have the chance to work alongside students in other courses in your specialisation module. 

Field trips

The course includes an overseas field trip that is part of the Planning Frameworks: Law, Policy and Professional Practice core module. The field trip is designed to expose you to practical examples of planning issues and approaches in another European country. Field trip attendance is not compulsory for distance learning students, but all students are encouraged to attend wherever possible.

The trip is usually three to four nights. Our teaching staff continually review the field trip destination, past destinations have included Barcelona, Amsterdam and Lyon. The field trip carries an additional cost. Please see the Additional costs section of this page for details.


Assessment methods used on this course

There are no examinations in the MSc Spatial Planning course and you will be assessed solely by coursework. Assessment methods used in the course include:

  • written reports
  • essays
  • verbal presentations
  • practical/project based work
  • debates
  • reflective journals
  • dissertation. 

Reflecting the nature of professional planning practice, many assessment tasks in the course involve collaborative group work.


The School of the Built Environment is widely recognised as a leading educator in environment, design and development subjects. We perform a leading role in research and consultancy, with clients and projects covering subjects from local concerns to multi-national organisations, government and industry. 

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):

We have 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. 

After you graduate

Career prospects

The Spatial Planning programme at Oxford Brookes has been designed in collaboration with professional institutes and industry practitioners to ensure it responds to the needs and expectations of the industry. 

Graduates will be well prepared to enter careers as planning practitioners working in public and/or private sector planning practice, as well as in related fields such as property development, design or housing.

The School of the Built Environment has extensive national and international industry links. During your time on the course, you’ll have the chance to make valuable industry connections and take part in a range of professional networking opportunities. 

Our Staff

Professor Dave Valler

Dave is a Reader and Research Lead in Planning in the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes. He also coordinates the School's Spatial Planning Group, and a member of the Faculty's Research Grants Committee.

Read more about Dave

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.