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Planning and Geography Undergraduate Programmes

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For more than 40 years the School of Planning and Geography has built its reputation across the boundaries of urban planning and human geography. The School is one of the leading human geography schools in the UK, with a specialism in planning.

The School operates at the cutting-edge of research and teaching innovation in planning and geography, specialising in the following areas:

  • Spatial analysis, including Geographical Information Science
  • Urban and regional governance, including urban planning and economic geography
  • Environment, society and space, including rural geography and planning

The School of Planning and Geography brings to bear a critical mass in these areas and is thus able to contribute to a wide range of policy domains including spatial, land, urban and city planning.

Our courses focus upon the built and natural environment and the impacts of economic, social, political and cultural change. While geography provides the theoretical and analytical skills to understand both the nature of change and its impacts, planning translates this understanding into action to ensure a better quality of environment for present and future generations.

The School accepts around 150 undergraduates across four courses each year and therefore ensures a learning environment where there is opportunity for close contact with staff delivering the courses and modules. In total there are more than 450 students in the School studying at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels in Human Geography, Planning, Urban Design, Sustainability, Regeneration, and Transport.

The wide ranging and specialist expertise of the School’s 50 members of staff ensures that all aspects of Planning and Human Geography are covered in our courses. The quality of teaching in the School has been assessed as 'excellent' and it is the only planning school in the UK to have been consistently awarded the highest category of excellence in government reviews of research quality.

BSc Geography (Human) – See course details on Coursefinder

Human geography is an exciting and innovative discipline. Our students are provided with a comprehensive and critical understanding of the subject as well as opportunities to specialise in specific areas such as cultural and environmental geography.

Students benefit from the School’s emphasis on the application of human geography to real-world contexts, particularly to policy-makers and the public, and have the opportunity to learn how the discipline informs elected decision-makers, helps the voluntary sector and seeks to improve civil society.

Aspects of Human Geography are studied in greater depth than most other geography schools, and with strong links to the University's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, elements of physical geography are incorporated into students’ education as optional modules where appropriate. The School combines theoretical and conceptual approaches to the relations between space, place and environment with detailed empirical case studies of geography in action.

Students starting this course in 2014 will study:
(This list is subject to change)

Year 1 Modules ...

The first year provides an introduction to the key dimensions of human geography, including the historical development of the discipline, key geographical ideas, environmental processes and the developing world. Through the Study Skills module, students will also develop the essential skills for studying human geography at degree level.

Our focus is on human geography, but we recognise that students may be interested in aspects of physical geography. Students are offered the option of studying one module in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, paving the way for further physical geography related options in years two and three.

You will study:

 Plus two option modules from:

  • Cities
    Conceptualises the development of urban space/place in both the global north and south, and explores how cities in different societies function according to the interrelationships between the urban economy, global and local institutions of power and the citizenry.
  • Environmental Geography
    How geographers have conceptualised the environment and its influence over the nature of place.
  • Earth and Planetary System Science (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences)
    This is an optional module and can be taken instead of Environmental Geography or Development and Underdevelopment. It provides a research-led, holistic view of the Earth, the individual parts of the system and their interrelationships in terms of natural cycles, feedbacks and interconnected processes.

Year 2 Modules ...

The second year builds on the foundations provided in Year 1, looking in more depth at the history of geographical thought and the economic, social, cultural and political sub-fields of human geography. Attention is also given to research techniques and issues, which provide an introduction to the dissertation to be completed in the third year.

You will study:

  • Geographical Ideas
    Develops understanding and analysis of contemporary geographical ideas.
  • Developing Research Methods
    Develops the practical understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods used in geographical research.

Plus four option modules from:

Year 3 Modules ...

The third year allows students to specialise in particular areas of Human Geography, with a broad choice of modules and field study visits. A fee-inclusive field study visit is offered within Europe (currently Berlin or Barcelona), whilst subsidised global trips are offered (currently to Moscow and Hong Kong).

You will study:

  • Research Dissertation
    Independent research project with academic guidance.
  • Public Geographies
    Critical debates on the range of different 'publics' (e.g. policy makers, civic groups, citizens) that could and should benefit from geographical knowledge.

Plus three option modules from:

BSc Geography (Human) and Planning - See course details on Coursefinder

The School of Planning and Geography offers a unique opportunity to study a combination of human geography and planning, building on the combined expertise of academics based in the School.

Students develop a solid grasp of planning issues and processes and their geographical contexts, and an understanding of global, national and local processes of change, key environmental, social, cultural, political and economic trends and the role that planning plays in shaping their effects on different places. Geography and planning examines the changing nature of spaces and places, the relationship between society and space, and the roles of the state.

Students gain a broad base of conceptual and practical skills, which enable graduates to enter a range of professions in the public and private sectors. Recent students having secured jobs in such diverse areas as local government, planning, education, international development, management, business and finance, surveying, environmental organisations and the civil service, both in the UK and abroad.

This degree will be recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute from the 2015/16 academic year.

Students starting this course in 2014 will study:
(This list is subject to change)

Year 1 Modules ...

The first year provides an introduction to the core areas of Geography and Planning. They cover issues such as the nature of geographical thinking, globalisation, the elements of planning, and the developing world. Students will also develop the essential skills for accessing and processing information.

You will study:

Year 2 Modules ...

The second year builds on Year 1, looking in more depth at the history of geographical thought, the economic and cultural sub-fields of geography, the core practical disciplines of planning, and planning’s application to environmental issues. A stream on geographical research provides a review of research techniques and issues, and also acts as an introduction to the dissertation to be completed in the third year.

You will study:

And choose one option from:

Year 3 Modules ...

The third year pulls together the modules on planning and on geography in a year-long core module that culminates in a field visit. This and the dissertation are compulsory. You will then be able to choose the remaining three modules from a range of options.

You will study:

And choose three options from:

BSc City and Regional Planning – See course details on Coursefinder

The study of city and regional planning is an essential foundation for pursuing a professional career in the fields of planning and development. The School equips students with a detailed understanding of the nature of the social, economic, political and environmental processes that shape cities and regions, and the various ways in which planning schemes and proposals can improve the quality of places and peoples’ lives.

There are numerous exciting and varied career opportunities available to students studying city and regional planning. These include careers in planning, surveying, design and development, as well as fields such as transport, economic development and urban regeneration. In particular, opportunities exist to practise in local planning authorities, central government, neighbourhood planning organisations, transport organisations, private planning consultancies, private developers and environmental organisations in the United Kingdom, mainland Europe and even further afield.

This degree is recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute as a spatial planning degree and is fully recognised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Students starting this course in 2014 will study:
(This list is subject to change)

Year 1 Modules ...

The first year of the course is a foundation year. It provides an introduction to the key building blocks of a planning degree and supports students in adapting to the requirements of university education and learning. Students take six compulsory double modules, aimed at developing an understanding of the social, economic, political and natural processes at work in shaping cities, regions and the countryside. It introduces the analytical and creative skills required in professional practice. Students are also introduced to a variety of assessment methods, including site-based project work.

You will study:

Year 2 Modules ...

The second year builds on the core knowledge acquired in the first year and encourages students to apply their skills to a series of practical planning and development issues.

Students on both pathways will be provided with guidance and advice on the placement year in practice, during the second year. Students who are enrolled on the three year course may, subject to availability and approval, be permitted to transfer to the four year course with placement. The placement year is a highly valuable component of a planning education.

You will study:

The placement year in practice ...

Students entering the placement year secure valuable practical experience in professional practice with a public or private organisation. The placement is a period of supervised office training with an employing organisation which is prepared to deliver a range of experience and a structured programme of work. The School will help you to secure this paid placement and students usually secure their placement on a competitive basis from a range of opportunities advertised through the School. Students can also explore opportunities with a wider range of employers if they have a specialist interest in a specific form of experience.

Placements are offered by a range of different employers in the private and public sectors, as well as in the third sector such as charitable trusts and campaigning organisations. The following organisations have recently been among those offering placement opportunities:

  •  White Young Green
  •  Capita Symonds
  •  Pegasus Planning Group
  •  Redrow Homes
  •  National Grid
  •  Transport for London
  •  Welsh Assembly Government
  •  The Scottish Government
  •  Newport Unlimited Urban Regeneration Company
  •  London Borough of Newham
  •  City of Edinburgh Council

Students typically earn a salary of between £14,000 and £17,000, depending on location, and placements usually last for 12 months.

The experience gained during the placement year is highly valued by students and especially by prospective employers.

Final Year Modules ...

The final year provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on the learning across the course to date, including any period of professional practice, and allows you to start to develop a specialism within a specific sub-field of planning. It serves as an important component of the course in bridging the worlds of practice and academic study. Emphasis is placed on developing the qualities of a critical, reflective practitioner and encouraging students to think carefully about the nature, instruments and impacts of planning.

In your final year as an undergraduate you will study six modules; four core modules and two option modules.

You will study:

  • Contemporary International Planning
    Explores a wide range of different planning systems across the world
  • Planning Theory and Practice
    Critically reviews and reflects on the key concepts that planners use in everyday practice
  • Sustainable Transport
    Introduces students to the factors which inform travel and transport choices, and how more sustainable patterns of travel can be achieved
  • Research Project
    Exploring a key planning issue or topic of your own choice with the guidance of an experienced supervisor

Plus two option modules from five specialised subjects:

The option modules are an important step in developing a specialism in planning. They complement your core modules and help you to determine your preferred route to specialised study at Masters level.