Teaching and learning in 2020/21

In order to prioritise the safety of students and staff, we are planning to teach through a flexible combination of online and onsite learning. For more details on changes to this course, see our undergraduate course changes page or postgraduate course changes page.

Course Overview

UK/EU Fees £850 *
International Fees £1,500 *
Alumni Discount See details
Duration 2 years

* Price per 20-credit module

Course summary

This course is aimed at built environment professionals and others with a relevant background who wish to gain an in-depth understanding of planning and sustainable development, whether to improve career prospects in their country or enter international practice. Through the course you will examine the growing problems of sustainable development facing cities, regions and communities in a rapidly urbanising world, subject to growing climate change and other environmental, economic and social pressures and risks.

Based in London, you will have access to internationally recognised experience of spatial planning for sustainable development, and explore contemporary theories, public policy thinking and good practice in planning in both the developed and developing worlds. The University of Westminster is the UK's first Habitat Partner University. We work with UN-HABITAT and like-minded institutions to promote the socially and environmentally sustainable development of towns, cities and regions, in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda.

This course addresses the growing problems of sustainable development facing cities and communities in a rapidly urbanising world. It explores contemporary theories, public policy thinking and good practice in planning that spans both developed and developing world contexts, and offers you the opportunity to explore one area of specialism in a related field in some depth.

Course pathways

There are two Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)-accredited pathways through the course. The Spatial Planning Pathway has a strong urban design component and an emphasis on the development planning process. The Urban Resilience Pathway provides a sustainable development-focused route with a core emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation planning.

Although there is an opportunity in the course to develop a range of communication skills including graphic presentation, pre-existing design experience is a strong advantage for those considering the Spatial Planning Pathway. The Urban Resilience Pathway offers an opportunity to explore this growing area of planning interest in a world facing a climate change and biodiversity emergency.

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. Other modules with course-related learning outcomes may be taken subject to timetabling constraints and the agreement of the Course and Module Leaders.

Core modules - both pathways

Spatial planning for sustainable development in a range of development contexts, examining dynamic tensions between economic globalisation and local and national factors (developed and developing worlds; high, middle and low-income countries). Analyses key policy concerns, dynamics of urban and regional change and spatial planning responses comparatively and internationally, across different types of city and region.

20 credits

Participatory planning, housing and land management for urban regeneration and community development in the developed and developing world contexts (using UK and European case studies as a point of reference where appropriate); policies and methods for sustainable neighbourhood planning including informal, low-income housing and settlements in developing world cities.

20 credits

An introduction to the concepts and ideas of sustainability in urban development. Key debates in planning for sustainable cities and neighbourhoods. Contemporary issues in delivering sustainable development. Interdisciplinary and discipline-based discussions on the practice of sustainability. Development of study skills (critical analysis, site analysis and planning, sustainability appraisal, team working, presentation).

20 credits

International perspective on spatial planning principles and methods, comparing different paradigms in spatial planning and sustainable urban form for new and existing towns and cities and their regions. Role of spatial planning and land development at the strategic level in mediating between market forces and social need and in the spatial co-ordination of sectoral policies and programmes.

20 credits

This module introduces students to methods and methodologies specific to urban, spatial, design and planning research, and professional practice. Planning skills and principles of conducting research are introduced and explained, and the module will allow students to begin developing their own research proposal for their dissertation/major project. The module will also allow students to critically examine the ways in which knowledge of the built environment, and of the impacts of planning practice and policy, is generated, in the wider context of sustainable development.

20 credits

This module offers the possibility to research in-depth a spatial planning or related topic through primary or desk-based research. The dissertation is 12-15,000 words in length. Students may undertake a Major Project on a similar topic producing a written report of a similar length or a report combining planning or design proposals or data presented in other formats with a written analytical report of 6-10,000 words.

20 credits

This module introduces students to research methods and methodologies specific to urban and spatial research, design and planning. It explores the theory and practice of developing a research framework with a particular emphasis on methods, methodologies, and theoretical frameworks used within the built environment professions. Skills and principles of conducting research are introduced and explained, and the module will allow students to begin developing their own research proposal for the Dissertation. The module will allow students to critically examine the ways in which knowledge of the built environment is generated, and the links between ethical and reflexive research practice.

(no credits)

Core module for Spatial Planning pathway

This module concerns the physical and spatial form of cities at the urban design scale, realised in various geographical or historic contexts, exploring the basic fabric of urban form: buildings, streets and spaces together with the with forces that shape them, how they differ globally, the regulatory contexts, how they provide physical environment to enable activities and livelihoods and how this can influence urban design and planning. Students learn key theoretical approaches to urban morphology, tissue studies, typo-morphological investigations, spatial development patterns, historic development, graphic methods, spatial analysis and various forms and manifestations of the physical built environment of cities.

20 credits

Core module for Urban Resilience pathway

Spatial planning for risk management, including reducing vulnerability and building urban resilience as it relates to the built environment, urban governance and long-term climate change and development needs. Integrates sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation concerns with disaster planning and urban risk management.

20 credits

Option modules

This module provides background on environmental policy and climate change. It sets out the theoretical framework to start with, and then the international context for sustainable development, energy efficiency and climate change. It explores implications for the built environment in a range of development contexts, includes analysis of key policy concerns and planning and design responses comparatively across different institutional and cultural contexts. It also reviews techniques for assessing the impacts of development and examines the role that effective environmental strategies and policies in planning and related fields can pursue to reach sustainable development.

20 credits

This is a project-based module that examines the form, use and experience of public space and the notions of perception, identity, diversity, place, place making and place shaping. Projects are used to critically assess the character of urban spaces and propose responsive design interventions. The understanding of the use and experience of these spaces is supported by lectures and selected readings of key thinkers in the field.

20 credits

This is a theory and case study-based module that critically examines the role of and definition of nature in urban environments. It looks at the role of nature, ecology and landscape as powerful paradigms in cities in the late 20th / early 21st century. Socioenvironmental sustainability, urban ecology, adaptive reuse and the re-emergence of natural landscape features as part of a city’s active green infrastructure are addressed and discussed through relevant literature. International case studies are explored in the context of a growing awareness of the importance of city ecologies for health and wellbeing, sustainability and the future design of cities.

20 credits

This is a design-based module enabling students to combine the learning undertaken in other modules and to evolve strategic concepts previously developed in other modules into detailed design positions. The module is an individual site-based design project, allowing students to explore issues in a specific context and to generate original approaches, deploying urban space and built elements to meet stated aims in a comprehensive manner.

20 credits

Housing and economic development; debates about housing supply; the role of public policy including planning in promoting housing development; the development of affordable housing; concentrations of social deprivation and negative neighbourhood effects; strategies for neighbourhood regeneration; governance and capacity building; tackling worklessness; policy evaluation.

20 credits

Following the growing awareness and recognisance of people's voices in shaping their places, the module addresses key issues around public engagement and themes of sustainability applied to the local scale, by looking at challenges addressed by communities and grassroots, from an interdisciplinary perspective. The participants will gain practical skills through the observation and participation to real-life projects, by being taught and working within an interdisciplinary team, composed of various speakers from different fields and professional horizons, the local authorities and the community groups. They will develop a reflective approach on ways to serve the community and enhance social capital and will additionally benefit from an international exposure through an exchange workshop with a European university. Students will gain theoretical knowledge on key ideas related to sustainability, community, participation, social capital and governance, inequalities issues and cultural diversity attached to place-making processes; and develop analytical skills on key historical and contemporary debates about community engagement, community diversity through London's key challenges for sustainability and by learning on international cases.

20 credits

An introduction to the historic urban landscapes that form an important part of most towns and cities throughout the world. Theory and conservation practice evaluated in a legislative and case law context. Students will learn the techniques of character appraisal and how they can form a platform for further creative intervention and develop an understanding of the specific legislative constraints relating to heritage assets.

20 credits

This is a project-based module where students investigate industry-standard software and datasets easily available for analysis and representation of spatial phenomena. Supported by a series of lectures the module has a focus on student led projects developing a critical understanding of how software can enhance practice rather than developing advanced software skills.

20 credits

This module focuses on destinations and will evaluate and debate destination development strategies. It will consider alternative destination management structures and assess the role of destination planning in limiting the negative impacts of tourism and ensuring competitiveness. The module will follow a case study approach with students assessing destination responses to different scenarios and challenges. Both UK and overseas destinations will be studied, ranging across resort, urban and rural settings.

20 credits

The module explores changes in land use in relation to changes in city form and function. It focuses on how the changing planning system (including specific funding systems and processes, and the broader planning framework) shapes transport systems and their sustainability. Different views on transport and land use planning are considered, including local authority and developer perspectives. The module incorporates discussion of transport modelling and forecasting, and an introduction to relevant software as it is used within planning and policy-making. The module considers social and environmental trends and constraints as they affect planning for future transport systems.

20 credits

This module focuses on traffic and streets, where traffic refers to a range of urban transport modes. It covers movement and place functions in urban contexts, including tensions within and between each. Students analyse approaches to evaluating urban street environments, particularly focused on walking and cycling. This incorporates comparisons of methodological approaches used within different streetscape contexts and within different countries.

20 credits

Spatial planning for risk management, including reducing vulnerability and building urban resilience as it relates to the built environment, urban governance and long-term climate change and development needs. Integrates sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation concerns with disaster planning and urban risk management.

20 credits

This module concerns the physical and spatial form of cities at the urban design scale, realised in various geographical or historic contexts, exploring the basic fabric of urban form: buildings, streets and spaces together with the with forces that shape them, how they differ globally, the regulatory contexts, how they provide physical environment to enable activities and livelihoods and how this can influence urban design and planning. Students learn key theoretical approaches to urban morphology, tissue studies, typo-morphological investigations, spatial development patterns, historic development, graphic methods, spatial analysis and various forms and manifestations of the physical built environment of cities.

20 credits

Course accreditation

The Spatial Planning and Urban Resilience MA Pathways each have full RTPI accreditation as a ‘Combined Planning Programme’.

Programme Specification

For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the programme specification.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of a lower second class honours degree (2:2) in a relevant built environment or land planning related discipline (such as urban or transport planning, architecture, landscape design, surveying, civil engineering, or land management).Alternatively, a lower second class honours degree (2:2) in a relevant human geography, social or environmental science subject and relevant practical experience of working in a built environment discipline. If your first language is not English you should have an IELTS 6.0 with at least 5.5 in each element. Applicants are required to submit one academic reference.

View more information about our entry requirements and the application process.

A minimum of a lower second class honours degree (2:2) in a relevant built environment or land planning related discipline (such as urban or transport planning, architecture, landscape design, surveying, civil engineering, or land management).Alternatively, a lower second class honours degree (2:2) in a relevant human geography, social or environmental science subject and relevant practical experience of working in a built environment discipline. If your first language is not English you should have an IELTS 6.0 with at least 5.5 in each element. Applicants are required to submit one academic reference.

More information

Careers

Students on the course are most likely to be working in a relevant built environment or sustainable development-related profession. Overseas students may be receiving a government bursary. Graduates from the course may secure promotion within their existing or a new related area of work, or move onto more responsible positions within 18 months of completing their studies. This may include management posts or the responsibility for project or policy development. It is expected that graduates will enhance their potential to be considered for development positions outside their home country. Graduates from this course can expect to find employment as planners or urban designers, urban regeneration or environmental management specialists in private consultancy, local and national government, and non-governmental sectors in their own country or internationally, including international development agencies.

Our Careers and Employability Service is here to support you to achieve your full potential.

With a growing network of over 3,000 employers around the world and a team of experienced careers consultants, we provide you with a variety of opportunities to work and develop new skills. As a University of Westminster student, you’ll have access to our services throughout your studies and after you graduate.

We can help you:

  • find work placements, graduate jobs or voluntary experience related to your course
  • discover international opportunities to enhance your employability
  • write effective CVs and application forms
  • develop your interview and enterprise skills
  • plan your career with our career consultants
  • gain insights into your chosen industry through mentoring
  • meet employers and explore your career options at our employer fairs, careers presentations and networking events 

Find out more about the Careers and Employability Service.

Find out more about other employability initiatives at the University of Westminster.

Find out more

Studying Planning, Housing and Urban Design at Westminster

Watch our video to find out more about studying Planning, Housing and Urban Design courses with us.

Other International Planning and Sustainable Development course

We also offer an International Planning and Sustainable Development Postgraduate Diploma. The Spatial Planning Pathway and The Urban Resilience Pathway are still open to you, depending on the modules you choose.

If you take the Postgraduate Diploma you take modules totalling 120 credits from the International Planning and Sustainable Development MA course (listed above) including three core modules worth 60 credits. The Postgraduate Diploma usually takes one year to complete full-time. To apply for the Postgraduate Diploma you should apply via UCAS Postgraduate (UCAS code P052061).

Modes of attendance and time taken to complete this course can be discussed with the course leader.

Fees and Funding

UK and EU tuition fee: £850 (Price per 20-credit module)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

As well as tuition fee loans, there is a range of funding available to help you fund your studies.

Find out about postgraduate student funding options.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible postgraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

International tuition fee: £1,500 (Price per 20-credit module)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

Find out about funding for international students.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible postgraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Course Location

Our Marylebone Campus has benefitted from a multi-million-pound refurbishment resulting in new workshops, digital studios and development of the Marylebone Library. The campus is home to Westminster Business School and our award-winning Architecture, Planning and Tourism courses. For more details, visit our Marylebone Campus page.

Contact us

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