Urban and Regional Planning MA

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  • Course description
    Urban and Regional Planning MA.

    Course overview:

    The MA course will give you the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary to practise professionally as a spatial planner. It is designed to meet the growing employer needs for staff who can investigate changes in the natural and built environments, manage the challenges of climate change through sustainable development, and debate and critically reflect upon the knowledge and values underpinning current approaches to land use development. Completion of the MA course is the first step to become a full member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

    The course will support your personal and professional development. You will be able to work in the interdisciplinary and cross-sector environment of urban and regional development, in a variety of private, public and community contexts, and apply your knowledge to practise in specialist areas of planning. The course builds on the University's experience of delivering postgraduate courses in town planning for more than 60 years.

    Course content:

    The course explores the current context and content of spatial planning. It does so from a UK and European perspective, and also investigates underlying theoretical debates.

    For the award of the MA students need to pass modules totalling 180 credits. Part-time Masters students usually take the equivalent of four 20 credit modules (80 credits) plus the field trip in their first year, and the equivalent of five 20 credit modules (100 credits) in their second year. MA students take all core modules and choose one specialist option module.


    The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.

    Core modules:

    Dissertation/Policy Implementation Project
    (40 credits)

    The module will provide you with the opportunity to explore in depth a spatial planning or related topic through primary or desk-based research. You will investigate and evaluate the process of planning policy making and delivery. This will involve setting research objectives, carrying out a literature review, developing and implementing a research design, incorporating appropriate methodologies, analysing your findings, drawing conclusions, and making recommendations. Your research may take the form of dissertation or a policy implementation project.

    Making and Managing Places
    (40 credits)

    In this module you will focus on the financial and policy context of urban planning, and the application of urban design principles to urban development. It will provide you with an overview and analysis of the procedures and practices of project briefing and development control, and will introduce urban design issues and techniques. You will develop your understanding of the key actors in the development process, and the basic principles of property development, site appraisal and methods of financial appraisal. The projects will involve area, market and site appraisal, design briefing and site layout through the development of a proposal for a site in the context of local planning guidelines. Group work is an important element of this module.

    Planning Field Trip
    (non-credit bearing module)

    This module involves a study tour over four to six days, usually to a single European city, with a range of urban forms from a variety of periods and which is currently growing. The trip will provide you with an opportunity to analyse urban form and its evolution and the impact of planning policies, and to evaluate the qualities of the environment produced.

    Planning Theory and Practice One
    (20 credits)

    This module will equip you with a critical understanding of the environmental, social and economic forces which influence spatial development and the qualities of place. It will introduce you to key historical and contemporary debates in planning, and the concept of sustainable development.

    Planning Theory and Practice Two
    (20 credits)

    In this module you will examine the governance of planning and theoretical ideas about planning, and further explore the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. You will explore debates about social exclusion, diversity and community engagement in planning. You will also examine how planning operates at different geographic scales, and investigate planning for economic development and for the provision of housing and infrastructure.

    Research Methods and the Built Environment
    (10 credits)

    This module introduces you to research methods and methodologies specific to urban and spatial research, design and planning. You will explore the theory and practice of developing a research framework, with a particular emphasis upon methods, methodologies, and frameworks used within the built environment professions. The module will allow you to begin developing your own research proposal for the Dissertation.

    Skills for Planning Practice
    (10 credits)

    This module will provide you with the skills needed to collect, manage, analyse and present data for evidence-based planning practice. It will develop your understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of needs, capacity and impact assessments. The module will also provide an opportunity for you to reflect on the inter-personal skills needed for planning practice and project management including negotiation and community engagement.

    Sustainable Cities and Neighbourhoods
    (20 credits)

    This module explores 'next generation' cities, investigating critical issues relating to climate change and other large-scale environmental threats and challenges through a cross-disciplinary perspective, at a range of scales from the global to the local. A critical understanding of the concept of sustainability, encompassing notions of resource conservation, environmental, social and economic impact, quality of life and urban resilience, is essential.

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