Geography (Human) and Planning (BSc)

The BSc Geography (Human) and Planning offers a unique opportunity to study a combination of Human Geography and Planning at degree level, building on the combined expertise of geography and planning academics based in the School.

This course, which is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)*, provides you with a broad-based spatial education that combines the problem-solving approaches of planning with the topical insights of geography.

BSc Geography (Human) and Planning

As well as forging strong links between the planning and geography disciplines, the programme has been specifically designed to provide you with key employability skills that will give you an all important edge in an increasingly competitive labour market. You will gain 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.

The course examines the changing nature of spaces and places, the relationship between society and space, and the roles of the state. Placing local and national issues in a global context, the course covers topics which range from environmental change in the UK, and economic and social change in Wales, to regional and international development.

The course combines an appreciation of transnational spatial change with detailed case study work, through field study visits, away days and projects. It fosters an understanding of the main geographical trends in the world today, along with the analytical skills needed to study spatial change. At the same time, students are expected to constantly link the insights derived from the geography modules to the more specific concerns of urban and regional planning.

Field Study Visits are a key aspect of our Geography (Human) and Planning programme.  Destinations for students arriving in September 2015 include Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Tanzania. Some field study visits involve additional costs to students, and further details are included under the ‘Course Details’ section. There are also additional opportunities to undertake periods of funded study in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, through the University’s Global Opportunities Centre.

*RTPI accreditation is dependent on the modules selected by students.  At the end of year one, students will choose between the accredited or non-accredited route of this programme.

Key facts

Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
Typical places availableThe School admits c150 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes.
Typical applications received
Typical A level offerAAA-AAB, including Geography. General Studies is not accepted.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWelsh Bacc: Pass Advanced Diploma with A in the core, plus AA-AB at A-level, including Geography
Typical International Baccalaureate offer38-36 points, including Higher Level Geography at grade 6 or above
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark

Town and Country Planning

Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Christopher Bear, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

The combination of a general overview of human geography and planning linked to a research specialism allows students to cover a wide range of academic concerns while also following their own particular interests. Overall, the programme places emphasis on fusing the geography and planning disciplines with a view to developing a theoretically driven problem-solving approach to pressing social and environmental issues. The coverage of the degree and its recognition by the Royal Town Planning Institute make graduates from the programme highly prized by employers across a variety of sectors.

In the School of Geography and Planning we place a great emphasis on practical learning. To this end there are field study visits available in each year of the undergraduate programme. In Year 1, these field study visits are local to the Cardiff city region. In Year 2, students can opt to enjoy a residential field study visit to a European city (currently Amsterdam and/or Copenhagen for 2015). In their final year, students can opt for a field study visit to a global city location. Students arriving in September 2015 can choose from the following destinations: Hong Kong, Los Angeles or Tanzania.

The course offers a wide range of modules giving a broad perspective of fields, from economics and GIS, to statistics, environmental law and cultural geography. The field trips have helped broaden my horizons.

Jamie Trybus, Geography (Human) and Planning

Year one

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

Find out more about some of our Core Modules from the module leaders

Module titleModule codeCredits
Society, Diversity and PlanningCP012020 credits
Introduction to Urban PlanningCP014320 credits
Urban EconomiesCP014420 credits
Introducing Research MethodsCP013620 credits
The Geographical Imagination: An Introduction to Human GeographyCP014020 credits
CitiesCP014120 credits

Year two

The second year builds on year one, 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.

Find out more about some of our Core Modules from the module leaders

Year three

The third year pulls together the modules on planning and on geography in a combined Geography and Planning module. You also work towards your research dissertation, under the guidance of a specialist academic supervisor. You will then be able to choose the remaining three modules from a range of options, which include one among a number of Field Study Visits (FSVs) to various destinations. The options and FSVs are designed to enable you to specialise in particular topical areas and develop your own pathway through the degree.

Find out more about our Research Dissertation module from the module leader

Please note
There are 4 core modules on the accredited route with a choice of 7 optional.  For the non-accredited route there are 2 core and a choice of 11 optional.

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.

Our approach is based upon a commitment to provide the highest quality teaching to our students. As far as possible, we aim to teach students in small groups because we believe that this encourages a more positive learning environment between staff and students and amongst students themselves. Typically you will study six modules per year, and will receive 15 hours of guided study per week. Teaching takes place through a variety of methods, including lectures, seminars, field study visits, studio work and workshops. Subject-based teaching is enriched by opportunities to participate in study skills training, employability workshops, and interaction with high profile speakers from academia, policy and business, who contribute to the School's Innovation and Engagement programme.

Our degrees are designed with your employability to the fore. The programmes have a strong identity, designed to build knowledge year on year, with internal coherence and strong identity, leading to the development of critical skills, academic insight and professional awareness that allows for the potential of each student to be realised.

We encourage innovation and creativity in the delivery and assessment of teaching and learning, for example the use of digital media and field study visits. You will receive skills training from presentation of critical thinking through film-based assessments. Forms of assessment will equip you for the demands of a changing workplace; from individual academic essays and policy reports for a range of stakeholders, to group presentations.

In 2013, 90% of our graduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduating and a further 5% were pursuing other activities (e.g. travel).

Our graduates occupy key positions in national and local governments, business consultancies, sustainable energy centres, environmental agencies, housing strategy companies, construction, surveying and are active in both the public and private sectors.

There are numerous exciting and varied career opportunities for planning students. 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.


3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

The School admits c90 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes..

Applications received

Typical applications received

Applications received from candidates with A-level grades (or equivalent) falling within our specified entry requirement range varied between 30 and 66 between 2011-12 and 2013-14 


QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark

Town and Country Planning

Overview and aims of this course/programme

This degree offers an exciting opportunity to both acquire an understanding of key themes and debates within contemporary human geography, and to develop this in relation to the professionalism of planning. Above all, it allows students to apply theoretical and analytical components of human geography to real-world situations, providing both a critical and practical appreciation of the ways in which spaces, places and environments are shaped by policy and practice. As students progress through the degree they can choose to specialise in human geography or planning. The first year provides a foundation in geography and planning concepts, as well as data analysis skills. Students learn about the key dimensions of contemporary human geography and the development of spatial planning in the UK.

The first year has involves an introductory field study visit. In the second year students are introduced to geographical ideas, philosophies and concepts that have informed the development human geography, as well as optional modules across the geographical and planning disciplines. In relation to geography, students are introduced to debates within the various sub-fields of the discipline, including cultural, economic and political geography. In relation to planning, students learn about planning law and practice, and environmental policies and planning. Training in transferrable research skills is also provided to enable students to undertake their research dissertation. The second year has includes a UK field study visit. In the third year students complete their research dissertation and learn about the connections and dialogue between human geography and planning. Students then have a choice of several optional modules, enabling them to specialise in particular areas of human geography and planning. The third year also includes a number of optional field study visits, which are supported by the School.

The degree provides a basis for postgraduate study in Human Geography, Planning, and cognate disciplines.

What should I know about year five?

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

Although attendance at lectures and seminars is not mandatory, students are always encouraged by module leaders, course directors and personal tutors to engage fully with their taught programme. This facilitates learning in a classroom environment, and peer-to-peer learning outside the classroom.

The School also provides additional guidance in the Student Handbook on ‘Working Together’. This sets out a series of standards and expectations on the School working together with students to ensure a successful learning environment.

How is this course/programme structured?

Please see How will I be taught?

What should I know about year four?

Any equipment required will be provided by the School

What should I know about year three?

Students are able to develop a series of additional skills through:

a)     the opportunity to study in a School consistently highly rated for its Research Excellence

b)      the involvement of internationally reputed research active staff, including those with both a Geography and a professional Planning background, and active involvement in both scholarly and practitioner/policy networks

c)     A condensed but comprehensive coverage of both Human Geography and Planning

d)     A well-resourced learning environment

e)     A well-developed IT strategy

f)       Close links with planning institutions, especially in Wales

g)      A field study visit (currently to Hong Kong) to explore issues in a real world case study, and deploy skills acquired through the degree into practice. 

What should I know about the preliminary year?

Full details of the Programme structures and requirements, courses and awards are given in the Student Handbook.

This is a full-time, 3-year degree.

Students take modules summing to 120 credits in each year. First year modules do not count towards the final degree. Modules are assessed through a combination of coursework, class presentations, projects, and examinations undertaken at the end of the relevant semester. Coursework is submitted according to submission dates published in the Handbook, which also gives details of the criteria upon which assessment is based. 

What should I know about year one?


Assessment in the School is governed by the ‘Assessment Matters’ strategy of the University. Assessment include a range of methods, examinations, essays, reports, project work, individual and group seminars, team presentations, and individual presentations. The variety of assessment techniques is designed to encourage the development of the range of expertise appropriate to graduates listed above; for example: ability to think under pressure and write succinctly (e.g. unseen examinations); ability to present pre-gathered material to an audience (e.g. oral and written class presentations), ability to work with others to a clearly defined theme (e.g. group projects); ability to develop research in depth and set out findings systematically (e.g. written coursework).

Core and option modules are accordingly assessed through differing combinations of unseen examinations, projects, class and group work, oral seminar presentations, coursework essays, and a dissertation.

Coursework essays will be of the following length (20 credit modules):

Where 25% of assessment is coursework – 1000 words

Where 50% of assessment is coursework – 2000 words

Where 100% of assessment is coursework – 4000 words

The precise balance of assessment techniques is given in the Schedule of Assessment, which is reproduced in the Student Handbook.

As of 2014-15, the dissertation is given double the standard module weighting (i.e. 40 credits).  It will be of 15,000 words.


Formative feedback is given in tutorials, discussion classes and problem-based learning classes as well as through individual written comments on coursework.

Other information

The School provides a range of facilities to support students in their studies, including:

a)      Student access to a dedicated 40 PC laboratory with high quality peripherals including network account laser printing, large format colour printing, A4 colour printing

b)      GIS facilities/workstation/access to Edina digimap mapping facility

c)      Dedicated computer technician

d)     Excellent library containing around 12,000 books, 280 journal titles, and growing stock (especially in Human Geography) thanks to annual investment of £90k p.a.

e)      Access to online journals and databases

f)       Well-structured personal tutor system enabling regular reviews of progress and understanding of obstacles to learning

g)      Written student feedback on assessments

h)      Support for those for whom English is not their first language

i)        The facility to undertake Assessments in the Welsh language if preferred

j)        An initial orientation provided during a week-long induction to the School, generating interaction through exploration of key current issues in Geography and Planning 

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

·         Acquire a systematic knowledge of geography and planning principles, a grasp of the main features of Human Geography and Planning today, and an awareness of the policy applications related to each field of study.

·         Develop a critical awareness of current debates concerning both epistemological/conceptual/theoretical questions, and the states of empirical knowledge, in each field.

·         Understand and be able to deploy the main analytical techniques (including both theoretical approaches and quantitative and qualitative analytical techniques and methodologies) used by Human Geographers and Planners

·         Acquire a range of transferable skills, including generic research, analytical, problem-solving and presentational skills appropriate to a wide range of both academic and business-related applications

·         Acquire the groundings of specialist expertise in scholarship concerning Human Geography and Planning

·         Equip themselves for further scholarly study in both Geography and Planning-related field

·         Acquire a high level of employability in a wide range of Geography, Planning or related occupations.

How will I be taught?


Admissions tutors

Dr Christopher Bear, Admissions Tutor

Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

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