Spatial Planning Studies

Qualifying Certificate

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Part time: 12 months

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of the Built Environment

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Our Certificate in Spatial Planning Studies provides an access route to our RTPI and RICS-accredited MSc in Spatial Planning. It is ideal for students who do not have the usual educational qualifications necessary for entry onto the course.

The course provides you with a general, yet critical, understanding of the planning process and some of the key issues and themes in contemporary spatial planning.

The School of the Built Environment performs a leading role in research and consultancy. Clients and projects cover subjects from:

  • local concerns
  • multinational organisations
  • government
  • industry.

Our research feeds directly into our teaching so you will learn directly from the most current areas of practice.

The course is a one-year part-time (one day per week) undergraduate-level course.

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Female Spatial Planning Studies, Qualifying Certificate student studying on campus at Oxford Brookes University

Course details

Course structure

The course comprises four modules. These modules have been carefully chosen to provide a balance of basic and advanced modules, and to offer you the opportunity to study basic themes in spatial planning. As well as some specific areas such as transport and community planning.

In Semester 1 you will complete Sustainable Development and Professional Practice and Transport and Society.

In Semester 2 you will complete Spatial Planning and Independent Study in Planning.

Group of Spatial Planning Studies, Qualifying Certificate students in a seminar on campus at Oxford Brookes University

Learning and teaching

Our teaching methods include:

  • lectures
  • directed reading
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • practical and project work.

Each of the four single-credit modules requires 150 hours of study over 15 weeks. This includes 36 hours of staff contact time.

Formal teaching takes place over the first 12 weeks. The final weeks are available for examinations, if included as part of the module assessment.


We use a range of assessment methods, including:

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

Field Trips

Some modules may have Field Trips (day or half day) associated with them. Where these form a compulsory element of the module the transport costs come at no additional cost.

Study modules

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

  • Introduction to Spatial Planning

    This provides an overall introduction to the discipline of planning. In the course you learn the main purposes of land use planning in general and the characteristics of the UK planning system in particular. The module provides the overall context and overall framework in which planning takes place.

  • Transport and Society

    This module is an opportunity to study this key issue in contemporary planning. It provides you with a critical understanding of the economic, social and political contribution of transport in the UK and Europe. The module explores the development of transport policy from a historical perspective and explores the concept of accessibility and the importance of travel behaviour.

  • Sustainable Development and Professional Practice

    Investigate the concept of sustainability and sustainable development in the planning and delivery of urban infrastructure. You’ll explore discussions about how to deliver sustainable development that usually include consideration of three overlapping areas of focus: 

    • environment
    • society
    • economy.  

    You’ll tackle challenges in how to navigate a path through these overlapping issues that will lead to the delivery of a sustainable development. You’ll develop the skills required in professional practice including:

    • research
    • information evaluation and assimilation 
    • reflective practice
    • report writing
    • presenting information. 

Independent study

Compulsory modules

  • Independent Study in Planning

    This module allows you to research and report on an area of planning that is of most interest to you. Through directed research and study you will produce an extended essay or report that will deal in depth with the chosen topic. The detailed content and focus of this work will be agreed in advance with a personal supervisor. The Independent Study in Planning allows you to develop skills in independent learning in preparation for similar work that you will be doing on the MSc in Spatial Planning course.

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.


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.


The Certificate in Spatial Planning Studies provides an entry qualification for the MSc in Spatial Planning which is accredited by both the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

This dual accreditation makes MSc in Spatial Planning graduates attractive to both the public and private sectors of planning and related built environment employers.

Our Staff

Dr Bridget Durning

Dr Bridget Durning is an academic, sustainability and impact assessment specialist.

Read more about Bridget

Entry requirements

This course is not available to students classed as International for fees purposes.

How to apply

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).

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) part time

Home (UK) part time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) part time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) part time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

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.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

For applicants and employers seeking to undertake this programme as an agreed progression route onto our Chartered Town Planner Degree Apprenticeship, please note the Certificate is not fundable via the Apprenticeship Levy.

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

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.