International Planning and Sustainable Development MA

Apply via UKPASS

UKPASS code: 037357 | Institution code: W50 | Attendance mode: Full-time
Start: 14 September 2017
Duration: 1 year
Location: Central London
Campus: Marylebone

Important tuition fee information – please read.

Alumni discount.

Home/EU: £6,500.00
Overseas: £11,500.00
Fieldtrip costs: £475.00

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 Millennium Development Goals.

The course is primarily for full-time international, UK and EU students, but it is also open to part-time UK-based students who want to explore an international pathway for their career development. The MA course is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a "combined planning programme". Those offered a place are eligible for postgraduate scholarships offered by the University. Read more about our scholarships.

If you are unable to study for a full Master's, we also offer an International Planning and Sustainable Development Postgraduate Diploma and an International Planning and Sustainable Development Postgraduate Certificate. Please scroll to the bottom of this page to find out about these courses. Alternatively, you can study a single module(s) from the International Planning and Sustainable Development MA course as a stand alone short course.

Course content

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 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. Both pathways cover all these aspects to some degree.

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 for both pathways

Dissertation or Major Project

(40 credits)

This module offers you the opportunity 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. You 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 5-10,000 words.

International Spatial Planning Practice

(20 credits)

Through the exploration of theoretical models of sustainable urban form and practical exercises, you will explore the principles, methods and techniques of land use, transport and infrastructure planning for new and existing towns and cities and their regions. The module examines strategic spatial planning policy and managing development in the context of rapid urbanisation and the challenge of urban governance in the developing world.

Planning in a Globalising World

(20 credits)

This module explores urban issues such as impacts of economic globalisation and sustainability in a range of development contexts (developed and developing worlds, and high, middle and low-income countries) using a comparative planning systems approach. You will analyse key urban policy concerns, debates, dynamics of urban change and planning responses comparatively and internationally, across different regional and historical contexts.

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 introduces you to a range of planning skills not covered elsewhere in core modules. You will cover core planning skills, appraisal techniques and technical skills including project management and communications. The module introduces assessments of need and capacity (for example retail, housing, leisure, transport) and tools and techniques to assist with these assessments, such as impact assessment, GIS, effective project management and engagement techniques.

Sustainable Cities and Neighbourhoods

(20 credits)

In this module you will explore 'next generation' cities, investigating critical issues relating to climate change and other large-scale environmental threats and challenges. The module adopts a cross-disciplinary perspective, at a range of scales from the global to the local. Using a UK-based case study and hands-on sustainability appraisal, planning and urban design exercises, you will develop a critical understanding of the concept of sustainability, encompassing notions of resource conservation, environmental, social and economic impact, and quality of life.

Sustainable Neighbourhood Development and Management

(20 credits)

In this module you will address the range of social sustainability concerns including housing and livelihoods. As well as introducing you to techniques such as participatory planning and community asset management, this module is concerned with local neighbourhood planning and introducing conceptual frameworks for understanding localised social and governance structures.

Core module for Spatial Planning Pathway 

Urban Design and Planning Skills

(20 credits)

In this module you will examine place-making in the context of the UK development process. Based on practical design projects supported by lectures and workshops, it enables students to gain an insight into the relationship between urban design theory and practice. The module is built around a site-based design project with a series of specific tasks relating to various stages of project development including area appraisal, strategic framework and design brief.

Core module for Urban Resilience Pathway

Planning for Urban Risk and Resilience

(20 credits)

You will explore 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. The module integrates sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation planning concerns with disaster and hazard risk management in an international urban context.

Option modules

Environmental Policy, Assessment and Climate Change

(20 credits)

In this module you will examine the role that effective environmental strategies and policies in planning and related fields can pursue to reach sustainable development. The module sets out the theoretical framework, and the international context for sustainable development, energy efficiency and climate change. In the module, you will explore the implications for the built environment in a range of development contexts. The module includes analysis of key policy concerns and planning and design responses comparatively across different institutional and cultural contexts and reviews techniques for assessing the impacts of development.

Housing and Regeneration

(20 credits)

This module will provide you with an understanding of the relationship between housing, planning and economic development. The module reviews debates about the supply of housing and considers the role of public policy in promoting housing development. You will consider the problems and challenges of concentrations of deprivation, and examine the social, economic, political and environmental factors which shape urban regeneration.

Public Participation and Engaging Communities

(20 credits)

In this module you will analyse key historical and contemporary debates about participation and community engagement as applied in planning and housing. You will consider the key social science concepts related to community, participation, social capital and governance, and also the legal and procedural powers. The module offers advanced study skills in information selection, referencing, essay planning and critical analysis.

Public Realm: Significance, Design, Experience

(20 credits)

In this module you will focus on the public realm from the perspective of urban design and planning. You will have the opportunity to study and write about key theories and debates about public space in an international context. These include issues such as inclusion and exclusion, the 'publicness' of public space, identity, experience, movement, green spaces, crime, security and anti-social behaviour, and different approaches to management. In the module you will undertake a practical project to explore these issues 'on the ground', thereby enhancing your skills in critical evaluation and design appreciation.

Other modules will course-related learning outcomes may be taken subject to timetabling constraints and the agreement of the Course and Module Leaders.

Course team

The teaching team includes:

For course content-related enquiries please contact the Course Leader. For admissions-related enquiries, please contact the admissions office at [email protected]

Professional accreditation

The MA course is fully accredited by the royal town planning institute (RTPI) as a 'combined planning programme'.

Associated 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.

Length of course

One year full-time; two years part-time


You may be eligible for a Royal Town Planning Institute Bursary worth £1,000 if you enrol on our International Planning and Sustainable Development MA course. Find out more.

Other International Planning and Sustainable Development courses

We also offer an International Planning and Sustainable Development Postgraduate Diploma and an International Planning and Sustainable Development Postgraduate Certificate. 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 UKPASS (UKPASS code 052061).

If you take the Postgraduate Certificate, you take modules totalling 60 credits from the International Planning and Sustainable Development MA course (listed above). To apply for the Postgraduate Certificate you should apply now via UKPASS (UKPASS code 052062).

Modes of attendance and time taken to complete these courses can be discussed with the Course Leader.

View the fees for the International Planning and Sustainable Development Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate courses.

Study in the city

If you study at the University of Westminster, everything that London has to offer is on your doorstep.

Our central London campuses are ideally located for the city's fantastic learning institutions including libraries, archives and museums, as well as opportunities for shopping, eating out, enjoying London's nightlife or just simply relaxing.


After choosing your course, one of your biggest decisions will be where to live, and we aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Whether you want to apply for our Halls of Residence or live in private housing, we can help you to find the right accommodation.

Fees, funding, bursaries and scholarships

In recent years the University of Westminster's scholarship scheme has been the largest university scholarships scheme in the UK, and our Scholarships Department won the Times Higher Education inaugural Award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students.

Personal tutoring

All students on courses of a year or more and who are registered for more than three modules will be allocated a personal tutor.

Your personal tutor will be there to support you from induction onwards, helping you to integrate into the University, academically and socially, at an early stage. They will be able to give you advice and support on academic and personal matters affecting your study, as well as developmental advice through regular individual and group tutorials.

Language support

Polylang is a University-wide programme through which you can study a language as a free choice module.

Personal advice and counselling

While most students overcome any problems with help from friends, family or a personal tutor, the University's free counselling and advice services are there if you need them.

International Westminster

With one of the UK's largest international student populations, the University of Westminster has plenty of experience in giving you the help and support you need to make the most of your time with us.

Study Abroad and Summer School programmes

Westminster's Study Abroad programme has been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the largest in the UK – each year we welcome hundreds of visiting students from universities all over the world.

If you are already studying outside the UK, the programme offers you the opportunity to study with us for one or two semesters, or for a period in the summer.

Sport and recreation

The University has extensive sport and recreation facilities, with a sports hall and gym at Harrow, a state-of-the-art gym at Regent Campus, and the University sports ground by the River Thames at Chiswick.

Students' Union

University of Westminster Students' Union (UWSU) aims to make sure you have the best university experience possible by providing a range of activities and support, from sports clubs to society groups, educational advice and social events.

Upcoming postgraduate information evenings

07 June 2017Postgraduate Information EveningCavendish, Harrow, Little Titchfield Street, Marylebone, Regent Street
View subject-specific information evenings

Architecture and the Built Environment

We are one of the country's leading centres for the study of Architecture and the Built Environment, covering the core subject areas that address the future shape of our cities.

Find out more in our welcome from the Dean of the faculty

Architecture and the Built Environment

Postgraduate student funding

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Find out about new student loans of up to £10,000 for postgraduate master’s study.

Future Planners Bursary

Fifty pound note

As a student on this course, you may be eligible for a bursary worth £1,000. Find out more and apply.


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


Student facilities at Marylebone Campus.