I have a strong family history associated with the city of Cardiff, and had encouraging reports from a close friend who had studied for her undergraduate degree in Biosciences. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a bursary to study my chosen course, allowing me to attend Cardiff with no financial cost to myself. This hugely increased my ability to focus on my studies and to immerse myself in postgraduate life.
One of the main benefits of studying as a postgraduate at Cardiff was the use of the dedicated Graduate Centre. This was a wonderful facility for both study and socialising, giving me a quiet space to work in and separate myself off from the more ebullient undergraduate body when this became too crowded. The suite of computers was also enormously helpful, particularly when my own laptop was broken, as the long opening hours gave me plenty of time to work to my own tune. The Student Union computer shop eventually returned my computer in full working order - and much more cost-effectively than the high street!
The one person who actually inspired me during my time at Cardiff, one of few to inspire during my entire education, was the late Professor Stephen Crow. As a lecturer and teacher, Professor Crow was approachable, understandable and truly inspiring - you can't say that about many planning law lecturers! His passing during my time at Cardiff was a shock to the entire student body who knew him, and I know the gap left in the department is untouchable. His humour and candour in this awfully dry field are irreplaceable.
My one recommendation to students wanting to attend the School of City and Regional Planning is to talk to the staff, and not just those teaching. The ladies in administration are incredibly helpful and friendly, going well above the call of duty to help those who ask for their help, and have a depth of knowledge that should not be ignored!
Life as a Planner
I was fortunate enough to be taken on by a private planning consultancy in September 2008. My job has huge variety, covering issues relating to housing for the elderly, affordable housing, LDF monitoring and reporting, planning applications, appeals, s.106 negotiations... I am lucky. What I enjoy most is clichéd, but true, as I enjoy the variety that brings about the learning. Planning is so multi-faceted and constantly evolving that to be in it is to dive headlong into a pool of the unknown. On any one day I may draft letters or reports on local or regional development plan documents, report to clients on changes to the appeal system and how this affects them personally, meet with local planning authority officers to negotiate scheme details, and read to my hearts' content whichever part of planning I am most interested in that day!
Attending Cardiff definitely helped me in my search for employment. The School is held in high esteem by employers, and this highlighted my own knowledge and abilities. One other matter that helped me in my job search was getting unpaid work experience. This showed me the realities of the planning system and allowed me to talk from real-life experience on those matters questioned upon in interview. Planning may not be what the media portray it to be, but that doesn't mean it's a dull day job!