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Human Geography and Planning with a Professional Placement Year (Accredited) (BSc)

Entry year


Explore the changing nature of space and place and help solve the major social and development issues affecting communities in the UK and around the world.

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Geography and Planning student

Course overview

Accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), this programme combines the problem-solving approaches of planning with the topical insights of geography, equipping you with the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to tackle the challenges affecting how and where we live.

The programme fosters an understanding of the main geographical trends in the world today, along with the analytical skills needed to study spatial change. You will examine the changing nature of spaces and places, the relationship between society and space, and the role of the state. Placing local and national issues in a global context, the programme covers topics from environmental change in the UK, and economic and social change in Wales, to regional and international development.

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. While, detailed case study work through field study visits, away days and projects will give you an appreciation of transnational spatial change.

Recognising how competitive the job market is for graduates, the programme has been specifically designed to provide you with the key employability skills to help kickstart your career and make your mark in your chosen field. The salaried professional placement year builds on this and provides you with the opportunity to put the knowledge and skills you acquire during the first two years of the programme into practice. It is also a way of building your professional profile and network.

Distinctive features

  • The opportunity to study in a School ranked top 100 globally for Geography (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019) and 7th in the UK for Town and Country Planning and Landscape (The Times and Sunday Times University League Table 2020).
  • Comprehensive coverage of both Human Geography and Planning.
  • Accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
  • The opportunity to study in a School consistently highly rated for its research excellence.
  • Taught by internationally respected and research-active staff.
  • Excellent relationships and links with planning institutions, especially in Wales.
  • Access to a laboratory with high-quality printing facilities, GIS (Geographic Information System) and Edina digimap mapping facilities.
  • Engagement with experts from professional practice who assist in the delivery of several modules.
  • International field study visit option (previous destinations included Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Tanzania) to explore issues from real world case studies and to practically apply taught skills.
  • A placement year allowing you to apply your learning in the real-world and gain valuable professional skills and experience.

Accreditations

UCAS codeLK75
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time with sandwich year

Ranked in the top 100 globally for Geography (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019) and 7th in the UK for Town and Country Planning and Landscape (The Times and Sunday Times University League Table 2020)

Entry requirements

ABB - BBB. Please note that Critical Thinking and General Studies will not be accepted.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DDM. All BTEC Extended Diplomas acceptable.

665 from 3 Higher Level subjects.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Geography & Planning admissions criteria pages.

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 overall with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

At least 62 overall with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit
£9,000None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit
£17,450None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

Additional costs

You will need to support your own living costs during your placement year. This includes rent, transport and food. There is no financial support available for this, but these costs are of course offset by payments made to students as wages by the placement providers. 

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This is a four-year full-time degree. Year three is spent working in professional practice.

You will need to study modules totaling 120 credits each year. Year one modules are all compulsory while years two and four contain a mixture of compulsory and optional modules.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

Year one emphasises practical and applied projects and introduces the key building blocks of a planning degree combined with human geography. You will cover issues such as the nature of geographical thinking and globalisation alongside the core elements of spatial planning. You will also develop the essential skills for accessing and processing information which will underpin the rest of your academic journey.

You will take six core modules, aimed at developing an understanding of the social, economic, political and natural processes at work in shaping cities, regions and the countryside.

You will be introduced to the analytical and creative skills required in professional practice and benefit from fieldwork and site-based projects to work on ‘live’ planning issues. Experts from professional practice are also engaged in the delivery of many modules.

Although you need to earn 120 credits, year one is an introductory year and the modules do not count towards the grade of your final degree.

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 a range of contemporary issues.

You are introduced to plans, policies and development management, environmental planning, planning and its operation in market contexts, the operation of local government, spatial analysis, research skills and the essential components of planning law, as well as geographical ideas and sustainable development.

In year two, you are supported with guidance and advice on the option to undertake a placement year as part of your degree, which is usually undertaken in the third year.

If your application to the placement year is unsuccessful, you will remain on the three-year, non-placement pathway. The guidelines and application process for the placement year are detailed in the handbook for the placement module.

Year three: Sandwich year

The placement year will give you valuable practical experience in professional practice and allow you to begin building your profile and network.

It is a period of supervised office training with an employing organisation which is prepared to deliver a diverse experience and a structured programme of work.

We will help you to secure this paid placement and you will usually secure a placement, subject to availability, on a competitive basis from a range of opportunities. You can also explore opportunities with a wider range of employers if you have a specialist interest in a specific form of experience. Placements are offered by a variety of different employers in the private and public sectors, as well as in the third sector such as charitable trusts and campaigning organisations.

(see Placements information for more detail)

Module titleModule codeCredits
Professional Placement in Planning PracticeCP0354120 credits

Year four

Your final year draws together the themes of study into a combined and compulsory Geography and Planning module. You will also work towards your research dissertation, under the guidance of a specialist academic supervisor.

You are free to choose your remaining three modules from a range of options, which include one field study visit opportunity (2019 destinations included Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Tanzania). The options and field study visits are designed to enable you to specialise in particular topical areas and tailor your degree to your interests.

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.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

Our approach is based upon a commitment to provide the highest quality teaching. As far as possible, we aim to teach in small groups because we believe this encourages a more positive learning environment between staff and students and among students themselves. Typically you will study six modules per year and will receive 15 hours of guided study per week.

We offer a supportive learning environment, where you are enabled to acquire a range of skills and a wealth of specialist knowledge. Our courses foster intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, close analysis, evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, using theory and the effective deployment of language in writing and in debate. We also help you gain experience in team working, independent research and time management.

How will I be supported?

As well as having regular feedback from your personal tutor in each course, you will have a reading week each semester for guided study and a chance to catch up on assessed work, reading and revision.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers and Employability Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, the Students’ Union’s Student Support Network and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Feedback

You will be provided with frequent feedback on work. This comes in a variety of formats including oral feedback during tutorials, personalised feedback on written work, feedback lectures, generic written feedback and feedback on tutorial performance

Coursework will be marked by the module tutor, with written feedback. You will also have a feedback class after each assessment. You will be given general feedback in relation to examinations following the May/June examination period and you will be able to discuss your overall performance with your personal tutor as part of the monitored student self-assessment scheme.

How will I be assessed?

A range of assessment methods are used, including essays, examinations, presentations, portfolios and creative assignments.

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.

Essays and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments. Dedicated essay workshops and individual advice enable you to produce your best work, and written feedback on essays feeds forward into future work, enabling you to develop your strengths and address any weaker areas.

The final-year dissertation provides you with the opportunity to investigate a specific topic of interest to you in depth and to acquire detailed knowledge about a particular field of study, to use your initiative in the collection and presentation of material and present a clear, cogent argument and draw appropriate conclusions.

Although you need to earn 120 credits in year one, this is an introductory year and the modules do not count towards the grade of your final degree.

What are the learning outcomes of this course/programme?

The learning outcomes for this programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you and include:  

Knowledge and understanding:

On successful completion of the programme you will be able to:  

  • State the role of the planning system in managing change in the built environment and natural environment in both the short and longer term with reference to the planning policies of central government, local government and other institutions;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the political, institutional and organisational contest of planning practice by making recommendations on how the organisation may improve effectiveness in addressing an identified planning issue.
  • Illustrate skills in research and appraisal, including data collection, investigation, analysis and assessing evidence by assisting in the determination of planning applications and other related applications, and/or the production of strategies, policies and plans related to the planning and management of the built and natural environment;
  • Accurately define a practical issue or problem for investigation, study or research and devise a strategy for collecting, assessing, analysing and presenting relevant data and information.

By providing real-life work examples, circumstances and consequences to decisions, the placement year adds extra value to the four learning outcomes. In effect, the learning outcomes of the Placement module itself have been devised to accommodate the variety of organisations in which students are employed and the diversity of work undertaken. They are informed by RTPI guidance on the qualities associated with a professional planner.

Intellectual skills:

On successful completion of the programme you will be able to:

  • Illustrate an appreciation and respect for equality of opportunity, social and cultural diversity, and the sustainable use of natural and human resources;
  • Illustrate an appreciation and respect for the individual and collective rights that may be represented through and impacted upon by planning systems and decisions;
  • Illustrate an appreciation and respect for the role of government and public participation in a democratic society and in the balancing of individual and collective rights and interests;
  • Illustrate an appreciation and respect for the ethics of professional practice by relating the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Code of Professional Conduct to their own practical experience and continuing professional development needs;
  • Illustrate an appreciation and respect for the protection of personal health and safety at work and the health and safety of others.

Again, the placement year provides real-world applications of these learning outcomes.

Professional practical skills:

On successful completion of the programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Being a reflective practitioner who is able to identify the skills and knowledge they are acquiring during their placement and the skills and knowledge that need further development.
  • The development of a self-critical and challenging approach to their own planning practice and that of the organisations within which they work.
  • Career planning through the development of a professional development plan.
  • Presentation skills

With respect to the placement year, appreciation of the real-world applications of planning practice.

Transferable/key skills:

On successful completion of the programme you will be able to:

  • Illustrate skills in communicating spatial and planning-related information to different audiences by presenting information to colleagues, other professionals and members of the public.
  • Engage successfully in collaborative and multidisciplinary working through working as part of a team and relating information to professional groups other than planners;
  • Exhibit skills of team-working by responding appropriately to colleagues’ requests and making clear one’s own demands on colleagues;
  • Exhibit skills of effective self-management by setting and adhering to work priorities, making effective use of time and identifying opportunities for input from colleagues, other professionals and stakeholders;
  • Manage and present information effectively using a range of different media and through the use of information technology.

The placement year reinforces all of these skills via real-world experience.

 

Careers and placements

Career prospects

We are committed to helping you achieve your professional ambitions, providing you with the skills, curiosity and confidence to make your mark in your chosen field.

Latest statistics show that 93% of our graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17)..

There are numerous exciting and varied career opportunities open to graduates of this degree programme, and many occupy key positions in a range of public, private and third sector organisations. These include national and local governments, business consultancies, sustainable energy centres, environmental agencies, housing strategy companies, construction, and surveying.

Specific planning career pathways include surveying, design and development, as well as fields such as transport, economic development and urban regeneration. You could practise in local planning authorities, local and national government, neighbourhood planning organisations, transport organisations, private planning consultancies, private developers and environmental organisations in the United Kingdom, mainland Europe and internationally.

Placements

The placement year in Year 3 is a fundamental component to the programme and will give you valuable practical experience in professional practice. 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.

We will help you to secure this paid placement and you will usually secure your placement, subject to availability, on a competitive basis from a range of opportunities. You can also explore opportunities with a wider range of employers if you 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.

In previous years, students have undertaken placements in the following organisations:

  • 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

Please note that this list is but a sample, and does not demonstrate the placements that may be available every year.

An organisation representative will create opportunities for you to become familiar with the range of professional activities available. You will also be allocated a Cardiff University supervisor, who visits you during your placement year to provide guidance on your project work and monitor your capacity to adapt to the demands of the working environment.

During your placement, you will need to complete a series of assignments designed to encourage reflection on your experience and the context in which you work. All placement students return to the School midway through the placement year to take part in seminars and tutorials on placement projects and work.

Experience gained during the placement year contributes towards the professional experience requirements of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). The experience therefore counts towards the minimum two years of experience that is required in order to demonstrate professional competence. Support is given to students working towards their Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), including on documenting the experience in the form required by the professional bodies.

Fieldwork

We place a great emphasis on practical learning. Each academic year offers a subsidised field study visit which allows you to research and investigate a live issue/case study, on location.

In year one, these field study visits are local to the Cardiff city region. In year two, you can opt to enjoy a residential field study visit to a European city. In your final year, you can opt for a field study visit to a global city location. Please see the ‘additional costs’ section for more information.

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