The course is offered at two levels: a master's degree (MSc) and a postgraduate
The MSc course is based on the completion of the following compulsory elements,
plus elective specialisations and a 15,000-word master's dissertation.
Please note: as courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance
framework, the module lists you choose from may vary from the ones shown here
- Spatial Planning in Context 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 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 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 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 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 (Public Policy) provides a critical knowledge of methods
and skills of research and their application to investigative work that informs
- MSc Dissertation 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 (see below).
MSc students are offered a high degree of choice and flexibility in terms of their
area of specialisations and choose 40 Credits of modules and (subject to availability
and student numbers) these currently include:
Environmental Decision Making
- Principles of Environmental Assessment and Management 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.
- Strategic Environmental Assessment introduces the concept of Strategic
Environmental Assessment (SEA), its principles and the status of SEA around
the world. The links between SEA, environmental impact assessment, strategic
decision making and a wide range of SEA tools and techniques and their advantages
and disadvantages in various settings are explored.
- Design for Conservation 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 Economics 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.
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.
- Sustainable Tourism Planning examines the growth, development and impact
of tourism. It introduces students to the broad issues affecting the planning
and development of tourism, providing a baseline 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 Design Studio I introduces you to advanced methods, techniques and
concepts in urban design through the medium of a specific site development
- Urban Design Theory I and II 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
- Urban Design Development Seminars provide an opportunity for students
to bring the knowledge and skills developed in the other urban design modules
together in student led workshops.
Urban and Regional Regeneration
- Introduction to Regeneration and Economic Development examines the changing
context for urban regeneration and sub-national economic development activity,
together with associated policy responses. The module begins with a brief historical
review, and moves on to assess changes in the nature of the economy and in
government policy which localities and regions are facing in the contemporary
global, knowledge-based era. It then examines in more detail some of the current
policy initiatives and governance forms which are deployed in the pursuit of
economic development and urban and regional regeneration.
- Regeneration and Neighbourhood Planning 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
The PGDip level of the course is based on the completion of the compulsory elements
listed above, but replaces the dissertation with a 10,000-word Planning Practice
Project. This is a major piece of independent study culminating in the production
of a report that analyses the implementation process of a planning policy, a
development programme or a major project. The postgraduate diploma can be completed
in two semesters full-time or four semesters part-time, and must be combined
with an approved specialist planning programme to fulfil the RTPI requirements.
Specialist planning programmes:
- MSc in Environmental Assessment and Management (EAM) examines the background
to EAM, particularly in the context of planning, natural resource management
and principles. It develops skills in environmental impact assessment and environmental
- MSc in Historic Conservation examines the principles, procedures and practices
of historic conservation within the context of the wider built environment
and the planning process. It develops skills and capabilities in practical
conservation techniques and evaluation.
- MA in Urban Design brings together theory and practice from several fields
to demonstrate urban design as an integrated discipline. The focus is practical
and seeks to engender positive intervention in the production of the public
- MSc in Urban Planning: Developing and Transitional Regions examines the
theory, concepts and practice of urban planning in societies undergoing rapid
economic, social, environmental and spatial change.
Teaching and learning
Learning methods include lectures, directed reading, workshops, seminars, and practical and project work. Some modules include site visits and fieldwork.
Teaching is organised on a module-credit basis, involving approximately 200 hours of personal study and approximately 36 hours of staff contact, normally delivered through three-hour teaching blocks over a 12-week period.
Approach to assessment
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 MSc in Spatial Planning includes a compulsory overseas field trip that is part
of the two semester 1 core modules. The field trip is designed to provide students
with practical examples and experience of planning in another European country.
The trip usually takes place in mid-November and normally includes three to four
nights away from the UK. In the past, this field trip has been to Barcelona,
Amsterdam and Lyon. The teaching staff are constantly reviewing new destinations
that can best contribute to students' overall planning education.
Students will need to pay up to £250 to cover accommodation and transport. The
cost of meals etc is not included in this.
Other half or full-day field trips often form part of the individual programmes
of specialist modules.
Students will also need to cover the costs of printing for submissions and presentations
associated with assessment.
is organised on a module-credit basis. Each module involves approximately 200 hours of
personal study and approximately 36 hours of staff contact, normally delivered
through three-hour teaching blocks over a 12-week period.
In recent years, teaching has been largely concentrated on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with two modules taught on each day. Generally the first year of the part time course takes place on Thursdays, and the second year on Tuesdays, whilst the full time course has teaching on both these days.
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