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Spatial Planning

MSc or PGDip

Key facts

Start dates

September 2021 / September 2022



Course length

Full time: 12 months

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


Royal Town Planning Institute; Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

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


Our MSc Spatial Planning is a benchmark qualification for those wishing to enter the planning profession. It is fully accredited by Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). 

The course takes a broad approach to the “traditional” field of city and regional or town and country planning. And combines core planning education with the development of expertise in specialist areas.

You will develop a broad and flexible level of knowledge and understanding which enables you to adapt to developing pressures during your career. You will learn to integrate concerns across the board, including those of:

  • economy
  • climate change
  • social need.

We have top-of-the-range facilities including studios, IT suites and computer programs. As well as three libraries and 24/7 online databases with all the academic material you need to be successful in your studies. Our links with practitioners in both the private and public sectors ensures that the course remains at the cutting edge of practice.

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 & 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 have completed the university's Certificate in Spatial Planning Studies.

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).

Apply now

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time
£8,500 (Masters); £7,500 (Diploma)

Home/EU part time
£4,250 (Masters) £3,750 (Diploma)

Home/EU full time off-campus

International full time

Home (UK) full time
£8,700 (Masters); £7,700 (Diploma)

Home (UK) part time

International / EU full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2020 / 21
Home/EU full time
£8,500 (Masters); £7,500 (Diploma)

Home/EU part time
£4,250 (Masters) £3,750 (Diploma)

Home/EU full time off-campus

International full time

2021 / 22
Home (UK) full time
£8,700 (Masters); £7,700 (Diploma)

Home (UK) part time

International / EU full 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.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

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, if any, are detailed below.

The course includes a compulsory overseas field trip that is part of the two semester 1 core modules. You will need to cover the cost of meals.

Other half or full-day field trips form part of the individual programmes of specialist modules.

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

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements. In the event of changes made to the government advice and social distancing rules by national or local government, the University may need to make further alterations to the published course content. Detailed information on the changes will be sent to every student on confirmation in August to ensure you have all the information before you come to Oxford Brookes.

Learning and assessment

Master's degree (MSc)
You must complete:

  • 6 compulsory modules
  • elective specialisations
  • a 15,000-word master's dissertation.

Postgraduate diploma (PGDip) 
You must complete 140 credits, including the compulsory modules. You can choose modules from the alternative compulsory modules list to gain your remaining 40 credits.

If you seek an exemption or transferred credit for any element of this award you must select an alternative module in its place.

The MSc in Spatial Planning is fully accredited by:

  • the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
  • the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). 

On graduating you can complete the Assessment of Professional Competence of these professional bodies and become a full member.

To gain full accreditation for the RTPI and RICS, you must combine the PGDip in Spatial Planning with one of our specialist master's courses. These include:

  • MSc in Environmental Assessment and Management
  • MSc in Historic Conservation
  • MA in Urban Design.
Female student studying on a laptop with headphones on

Study modules

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

Taught Modules

Compulsory modules

Spatial Planning in Context (20 credits)

This module explores the contexts within which the UK planning system needs to be understood: historical, spatial, social, economic, political and international. You will consider the issues that the planning system confronts and manages, and reflect on the range of approaches, historically and between countries, which may be taken to deal with planning issues.

Spatial Planning in Action (20 credits)

This module presents an analysis and assessment of the structure, objectives and responsibilities underlying the practice of spatial planning from a UK perspective. The legal basis and administrative aspects of planning decision making are introduced, including development plan making, development control and the appeals process.

Place-Making (20 credits)

This module introduces the theories, processes and practice of place making, and evaluates these against their impact on urban form and different sectors of society. The module teaches the development of design alternatives, taking account of political, socio-economic, development, aesthetic and other key factors important in achieving high quality, sustainable public realms.

Delivering Sustainable Futures (20 credits)

This module extends understanding of the principles of sustainability, the interpretation and practice of sustainable development, and the changing socio-political and environmental context within which plans are generated and implemented.

Contemporary Issues in Planning Practice and Research (10 credits)

This module provides an opportunity to study developing issues in planning practice, particularly the legal aspects of decision making, using examples from areas of current controversy. A hands on exercise is included, such as participating in a mock public inquiry for a real planning case.

Research Methods (10 credits)

Research Methods (Public Policy) provides a critical knowledge of methods and skills of research and their application to investigative work that informs public policy.

Planning Practice Project (40 credits)

Optional modules

Urban Design Studio I (10 credits)

In this module you will be introduced to advanced methods, techniques and concepts in urban design through the medium of a specific site development project.

Urban Design Theory I (10 credits)

This module further develops an awareness of client groups, user needs, and professional and legal requirements of the urban environment, placing these in the context of a specific design project on a nominated site.

Design for Conservation (20 credits)

This module provides an introduction to the differing philosophies underlying approaches to building in historic places. It examines the role of design guides, design codes and site briefs in securing appropriate development in sensitive historic locations.

Conservation and Regeneration: Theory, Law and Practice (20 credits)

This module focuses on various theoretical and practical concepts in the field of conservation and heritage and the different values and interest which they reflect.

Development and Urbanisation (20 credits)

This module examines the theories, processes and consequences of rapid urbanisation in the developing world within the context of economic development and social change.

Principles of Environmental Assessment and Management (20 credits)

This module sets EIA and SEA in the context of sustainability, environmental policy making and the derivation of environmental values. It addresses the availability and use of environmental resources, reviews methods for conserving these resources, and discusses the aims and interactions of various interest groups, and methods of public participation in environmental decision making.

Independent Study (20 credits)

Urban Design Theory II (10 credits)

This module further develops an awareness of client groups, user needs, and professional and legal requirements of the urban environment, placing these in the context of a specific design project on a nominated site.

Urban Design Development Seminars (10 credits)

These provide an opportunity for students to bring the knowledge and skills developed in the other urban design modules together in student led workshops.

Regeneration and Neighbourhood Planning (20 credits)

This module critically examines key issues in current theory, policy and practice, focusing on neighbourhood renewal, people-based approaches to regeneration and neighbourhood planning. The module makes extensive use of case studies to explore the links between physical and social regeneration.

Building Construction and Repair (20 credits)

This module examines the properties of traditional materials and their selection and their section and use in conservation.

Conservation Economics (10 credits)

This module is a half unit which provides an introduction to financial and economic aspects specific to the conservation of buildings. The module combines with Historic Conservation in Context, which provides an introduction and critical examination of the legal measures that exist to preserve and enhance the historic environment.

GIS and Environmental Modelling (20 credits)

Final project

Compulsory modules

Dissertation (50 credits)

This is an individual research study of up to 15,000 words. It reveals abilities to define and research an issue or problem of relevance to the discipline of planning and to make a contribution to knowledge in the chosen area of specialisation.

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

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching and learning methods such as:

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

Some modules include site visits and fieldwork.

Teaching is organised on a module-credit basis. This involves  approximately:

  • 200 hours of personal study
  • 36 hours of staff contact, normally delivered through three-hour teaching blocks over a 12-week period.

Field trips

The course includes a compulsory overseas field trip that is part of the two semester 1 core modules. We designed the field trip to provide you with practical examples and experience of planning in another European country.

The trip is usually three to four nights and takes place in mid-November. Past destinations have included Barcelona, Amsterdam and Lyon. The current destination is Dublin. Our teaching staff constantly review new destinations that will best contribute to your overall planning education.

This carries an additional cost. Please see the Additional costs section of this page for details.


Assessment methods used on this course

Each course 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.


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

Not only is the MSc in Spatial Planning seen as the benchmark qualification for professional planners, it is also widely recognised as providing the transferable skills and critical knowledge necessary in many fields of work in the built and natural environment.

Local government is just one of very many career opportunities available to MSc in Spatial 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 in organisations across the globe.

Our Staff

Dr 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.