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Master Planning

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  • Entry requirements
    Admission to the course is primarily open to candidates who are progressing from the third year of an RTPI-approved undergraduate programme, namely students holding the BA (Hons) in Town and Country Planning at Brookes, or the BA City and Regional Planning, or students who have graduated from equivalent programmes from other universities and whose transfer has been approved by the department in collaboration with the RTPI. In all cases, a minimum of a 2.2 (Hons) is required. Students who have successfully completed the BA (Hons) degree at Oxford Brookes are normally admitted automatically. LEA funding and student loans are available for full-time UK students on the diploma course if you have established the intention to study for four years at the outset of the BA degree. Students with planning experience and/or other degrees and qualifications may be accepted. Their applications are normally considered on the basis of the syllabus and pass mark of the student's earlier course or the presentation of a folio of work.
  • Academic Title
    MPlan / PGDip Planning
  • Course description
     MPlan / PGDip
    Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) accredited

    This course is only available to students who are progressing from the third year of an approved RTPI programme.

    The postgraduate Diploma in Planning is intended for those who wish to gain exemption from the RTPI's final examination; it aims to extend the student's skills and knowledge of planning so that, with subsequent experience, they can attain the level of a skilled practitioner.

    The master's course offers the opportunity to specialise further by completing a module in research methods and then submitting a master's dissertation of 15,000 words.

    Oxford Brookes has offered postgraduate courses of this type for over 40 years, and is acknowledged as a leading provider of probably the most diverse routes to RTPI professional accreditation in the UK. We have over 50 teaching and research staff and our students are drawn from across the UK and internationally. Our reputation is built on our student centredness, our teaching and research excellence, innovation and service to the community and professional organisations, and our educational philosophy, which seeks to embrace planning education in its widest sense.
    Course content

    The course is made up of three areas of study: core compulsory studies; specialisation studies; and, for MPlan students, research methods and production of a master's dissertation. Because the course is run in tandem with other graduate courses offered by the department you will, for the specialisation modules, work alongside students who are on other specialist master's programmes. The modules are as follows:
    Core modules:

        * Development Economics, Management and Finance examines the general elements of economic development and management which are applicable in a local government and development setting. Particular emphasis is placed on techniques of communication and negotiation which are required in the implementation of policy. Consideration is also given to financial frameworks and controls exercised by local and central government.
        * Contemporary Issues in Planning Law, Practice and Research provides students with an opportunity to study developing issues in spatial planning and to develop their own skills in the analysis of planning debates and in problem-solving techniques. The module is practice based and examines key issues in planning practice including the legal and policy context of development control and forward planning and probity in professional practice.
        * Implementation Project represents a project of professional advice for a client according to a pre-set brief in the form of a report of 7,500 words maximum. The module provides an important link between the generality of the implementation of policies and proposals and the specialist knowledge of the student. The content of the report will normally depend on the student's choice of elective specialisation (see below).

    Specialisation modules:

    The course offers students a high degree of choice and flexibility in terms of its specialisation modules. Candidates are required to complete any set of 'paired' modules from the following list. There are eight subject areas to choose from and the modules are normally programmed one per semester.
    Environmental Design

        * Urban Design Studio I is project based, applying the theoretical and operational concepts of urban design to a 'live' study site of more than 10 hectares. Groups produce design policy, site analysis, site proposals at appropriate scales and design rationales for the site in question.
        * Urban Design Theory I introduces the theoretical concepts underpinning current urban design practice approaches. The module includes the history and theory of urban design, the introduction of design approaches such as responsive environments, and urban morphology.
        * Urban Design Theory II explores design issues in more detail, including design for the sensory experience of space; problematic building types and mixed use; density issues; regeneration; guiding and promoting urban design development; sustainability in urban design; coding and briefing; issues of local identity; urban landscape design; movement and mobility and emerging issues concerned with the provision of good urban design in relation to globalisation.
        * Urban Design Development consists of a set of specialist topic seminars. The specialist topics will vary but will normally cover coding and briefing; issues of local identity; urban landscape design; movement and mobility and emerging issues concerned with the provision of good urban design in relation to globalisation.

    Environmental Management

        * Environmental Assessment examines the organisation, preparation, presentation, prediction, assessment and decision making in environmental assessment techniques. Key skills in screening, scoping, review and the methods of assessment for noise, landscape, archaeology, ecology, traffic and socio-economic impacts are emphasised.
        * Environmental Law and Decision Making examines the international, European and UK legal context of environmental decision making. This considers the development of environmental law from international treaties and conventions into European and UK legislation. In particular, the module focuses on key areas of environmental law and the assessment procedures established by European directives.

    Historic Conservation

        * Conservation and Regeneration: Theory, Law and Practice examines the various concepts of heritage conservation including values and interests, politics and philosophy of current conservation policies and practice. It also examines legislative and regulatory mechanisms in which historic structures and sites may be protected and conserved.
        * Building Construction and Repair examines the appropriate techniques that can be used for the assessment, repair, renovation and maintenance of old buildings and studies the principles of construction of historic structures.

    Physical Regeneration

        * Conservation and Regeneration: Theory, Law and Practice examines the various concepts of heritage conservation, including values and interests, politics and philosophy of current conservation policies and practice. It also examines legislative and regulatory mechanisms through which historic structures and sites may be protected and conserved.
        * Sustainable Cities: Applications of Regeneration examines practical aspects of regeneration including issues of transport and mobility, developing brown field sites, housing regeneration, public participation, tourism and urban regeneration, the role of urban design in urban renewal, working with the spaces ‘in-between’ and urban landscaping in regeneration projects.

    Planning in Developing Countries

        * Development and Urbanisation examines the theories, processes and consequences of rapid urbanisation in the developing world within the context of economic development and social change.
        * Urban Land Policy and Urban Management examines the processes of urban land development under conditions of rapid urban growth. The concept and development of land policy is examined.

    Tourism Planning

        * Tourism Development: Issues and Analysis examines the growth, development and impacts of tourism, introducing the broad issues affecting the planning and development of tourism as a baseline understanding of tourism planning and sustainable development.
        * Strategic Planning for Tourism explores key traditions, systems and methods of tourism planning and policy, including strategic tools used in the planning of tourism at various levels of activity, but primarily focuses on the destination or community level of development.

    Transport Planning

        * Transport Policy examines the evolution of transport policy in the UK, including its impact on transport conditions and land use patterns, and the institutional and policy framework within which transport planning is conducted. Comparisons with other EU member states are made.
        * Contemporary Issues in Transport Planning Practice is a critical exploration of issues faced by practitioners in developing and delivering local and regional objectives within the contemporary UK policy and institutional context.

    Urban Regeneration

        * Introduction to Regeneration introduces the context within which urban regeneration takes place and examines different approaches to securing desired change, including the challenges and varying ways in which these have been met over time and space. Contemporary policies, objectives, strategies, funding and agencies are introduced and critically analysed.
        * Regeneration and Neighbourhoods critically examines key issues in current regeneration theory, policy and practice, focusing on neighbourhood renewal and 'people'-based approaches to regeneration. As well as looking at particular initiatives the module explores issues involved in community participation in regeneration.

    Teaching, learning and assessment

    The emphasis of this course is on small group teaching and active learning to help students acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. A variety of methods are used with project work and workshops tending to predominate, using topical national and local issues as a basis. Further experience of current practice and the professional world is gained through fieldwork, study visits and visiting speakers.

    Teaching is organised on a module-credit basis involving three-hour teaching blocks delivered over a 12-week period. Each module is assessed individually, generally on the quality of written or design work, and to some extent on verbal presentations. Assessment methods may include essays, seminar papers, formal written examinations, in-class tests, project work, design and verbal presentations, workshops, simulations and practical exercises.


    The Department of Planning is the largest centre of planning education in the UK and one of the largest in the world. Both the School of the Built Environment and the department have a very high teaching reputation and many of their undergraduate and postgraduate courses are accredited by professional institutions such as the Royal Town Planning Institute. The School also has a very high research and consultancy profile and regularly completes research and other work for bodies such as the European Commission and UK government departments.

    Planning achieved 4 (out of 5*) in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). Teaching staff are drawn primarily from the Department of Planning but with some contributions from other faculties of the School of the Built Environment and the wider University community. Visiting speakers from business and industry, local government, and consultancies and research bodies provide further input.

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