Spatial Planning and Development (MSc)

The starting point for taking on the professional challenges of helping make liveable, prosperous places.

The MSc Spatial Planning and Development aims to put you on the road to being a good planner. So it:

  • Develops core planning skills, applicable at a range of spatial scales;
  • Nurtures professional judgement; and
  • Develops specialised skills which will make graduates employable with a wide range of employers.

The course is underpinned by a recognition that planning is undertaken in diverse (and sometimes unjust) societies, and that objectives and approaches to planning can be subjects of debate and struggle. The course attempts to provide students with resources to be sensitive to, and be able to form independent judgements on, these ethical, political and professional matters. While its focus is on planning in developed capitalist societies, especially the UK/Europe, its understanding of planning is comparative, and the skills taught are applicable in many planning contexts.

There is a mix of teaching methods and learning environments, including projects for 'real life' clients. There is an expectation that students will supplement class/workshop sessions by independently exploring library and internet resources.

Course Recognition

This MSc is a combined planning course and is itself fully recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). The course provides the full RTPI educational requirement, so that successful completion of the MSc with the necessary RTPI practice requirements allows direct membership entry to the Institute. For further details visit the Royal Town Planning Institute website.

It is also accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), allowing completion of the educational requirement for RICS membership. For further details visit the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors website.

Course Structure

The MSc Spatial Planning and Development is offered as a one year full-time or a two year part-time course.

It is divided into two parts:
Part 1 comprises a teaching programme of compulsory and option modules over two semesters (or four semesters for the part-time course).
Part 2 comprises an individual dissertation. A topic is selected by each student in consultation with members of staff. The topic must be planning related. In the case of students from countries outside the UK, the dissertation may focus on a planning issue in their country of origin. An important aspect of the dissertation process is student reflection on what is involved in researching a planning topic.

The following list relates to the modules for the academic year 2015/16. Please note that these may be subject to change.

Core Modules

Option Modules - One to be chosen from:

Assessment is through a range of coursework, including seminar papers, reports and project work. Where required there is room for flexibility in setting alternative, comparable assessments.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Study Visits

A number of short field study visits may be arranged during the course and some option modules involve compulsory residential study visits. The School does partly subsidise these trips but students should allow for travelling and subsistence expenses. These visits help integrate student learning.


Graduates of this course do extremely well in getting jobs they want. The input of people from practice into the degree keeps it relevant. It also gives students great contacts. Principal graduate employment destinations are UK and EU town and regional planning organisations, including local and regional authorities, national government agencies, private planning consultancy firms and voluntary organisations. We also have students employed in North America and Australia.
Our Alumni collectively represent the variety of potential careers and jobs that our current (and future) students may embark on.


This MSc is suitable for graduates in most subjects and is a particularly popular choice for graduates in economics, geography, architecture, sociology, engineering, politics and history. Applications from mature students with a relevant professional background are also welcome. The course is specifically aimed at those wishing to gain a professional qualification in planning.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should normally hold a first or second class Honours degree in an appropriate subject. A minimum standard in English language of IELTS 7 or equivalent will be required for students whose first language is not English. Pre-course English Language tuition is available.

RTPI Future Planners Bursary

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has created a new bursary for places on accredited University planning Masters courses.  The bursary will be worth £1,000 to the successful student. It has been co-sponsored by the School of Geography and Planning and will be offered as a fee waiver.

Who is eligible?

Full details on eligibility can be found on the RTPI website:

The two eligible programmes within the School of Geography and Planning are:

  • MSc International Planning and Development
  • MSc Spatial Planning and Development

In addition to the RTPI eligibility as detailed in the link above, in order to be considered by the School you must be in receipt of an offer from one of the above courses and must make our offer firm choice by Thursday 30th June 2016.  It is not necessary to submit a separate application for the bursary, all eligible students who have made their firm choice by the 30th June will be considered.  The decision will be based on academic results and the depth of interest in a career in town planning as demonstrated by your application (personal statement and references for example).

We aim to notify the successful applicant by Friday 22nd July 2016.  If you have any queries about your application or the course itself, please email

See this course on the University's Coursefinder website.