Urban and Regional Planning MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
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.
If you want to gain a greater understanding of spatial planning, but do not want to study for a full Masters course, we also offer an Urban and Regional Planning Postgraduate Diploma and an Urban and Regional Planning Postgraduate Certificate. Scroll to the bottom of this page to find out more about these courses. Alternatively you can study a single module(s) from the Urban and Regional Planning MA course as stand alone short courses.
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.
Dissertation/Policy Implementation Project
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
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
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
In this module you will examine the governance of planning and theoretical ideas about planning, and further explores 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
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
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
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.
We offer specialist options in urban design, regeneration and sustainability. However, in a particular year we may not offer the full range of options listed.
Environmental Policy, Assessment and Climate Change
This module provides you with background knowledge on environmental policy and climate change. It sets out the theoretical framework, and then the international context for sustainable development, energy efficiency and climate change. You will explore the implications for the built environment in a range of development contexts, including analysis of key policy concerns and planning and design responses comparatively across different institutional and cultural contexts. You will also review techniques for assessing the impacts of development, and examine the role that effective environmental strategies and policies in planning and related fields can pursue to reach sustainable development.
Housing and Regeneration
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.
Land Use, Planning and Transport
In this module you will explore changes in land use in relation to changes in city form and function. You will focus on how the changing planning system (including specific funding systems and processes, and the broader planning framework) shapes transport systems and their sustainability. You will discuss the role played by modelling and forecasting in relation to transport planning. You will consider social and environmental trends and constraints as they affect planning for future transport systems.
Public Participation and Engaging Communities
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
In this module you will focus on the public realm from the perspective of urban design and planning. In the module you will have the opportunity to study and write about key theories and debates about public space. These include issues such as inclusion and exclusion, the 'publicness' of public space, identity, experience, movement, green spaces, crime, security and antisocial behaviour and different approaches to management. These are considered in an international context. You will examine practical examples and will undertake a practical project to explore these issues 'on the ground' thereby enhancing your skills in critical evaluation and design appreciation.
Traffic in Urban Areas
This module introduces a range of theoretical concepts relating to traffic and travel behaviour in urban areas, and will familiarise you with key strategic policy issues affecting both the movement and management of urban traffic. It will also provide you with an opportunity to explore practical design feasibility and management issues associated with the implementation or policy measures at the street level.
The teaching team includes:
- Duncan Bowie, Course Leader
- Dr Suzy Nelson, Principal Lecturer in Planning
- Professor Marion Roberts, Professor of Urban Design
- Bill Erickson, Principal Lecturer in Urban Design
- Dr Tony Manzi, Principal Lecturer in Housing
- Professor Nick Bailey, Professor of Regeneration
- Dr Enrica Papa, Senior Lecturer in Transport
- Krystallia Kamvasinou, Research Fellow
There is demand from government and the private sector for qualified planners. Recent graduates from the full-time course have gone on to work in local government, urban regeneration agencies and into consultancy.
On successful completion of the MA course students can become licentiates of the RTPI. After two years' experience in practice, they may make a submission for their Assessment of Professional Competence and, if successful, are then entitled to full RTPI membership.
Length of course
One year full-time; two years part-time
Full-time students on the Urban Regional Planning MA course usually need to attend classes at University on Tuesday and Wednesday. Part-time students usually need to attend classes at University on Tuesday in their First Year, and on a Wednesday in their Second Year. Please note, this timetable is subject to change.
Other Urban and Regional Planning courses
We also offer an Urban and Regional Planning Postgraduate Diploma and an Urban and Regional Planning Postgraduate Certificate. These qualifications on their own do not provide a route to RTPI membership. They are intended for professionals in related fields to deepen their understanding of spatial planning.
If you take the Postgraduate Diploma you take modules totalling at least 120 credits from the list of MA modules above, of which 100 credits must be from the core modules. The Postgraduate Diploma usually takes one year to complete full-time. The Postgraduate Diploma usually takes two years to complete part-time. To apply for the Postgraduate Diploma you should apply now through UKPASS (UKPASS code 052063).
If you take the Postgraduate Certificate you take modules totalling at least 60 credits from the list of MA modules above, of which 40 credits must be from the core modules. The Postgraduate Certificate usually takes one to two years to complete part-time. To apply for the Postgraduate Certificate you should apply now through UKPASS (UKPASS code 052064).
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.
Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.
We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.
For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.
More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
Career options in your subject area
Our team of careers consultants work closely with Faculty departments to deliver tailored employability support, including subject-specific workshops, employer events and careers information, advice and guidance.
Professionally accredited course
The course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a 'combined planning programme'.
A dynamic and professionally focused course
The course has a strong focus on sustainability with an interdisciplinary module on Sustainable Cities and Neighbourhoods.
The course involves a project which explores the inter-relationships between planning policy, urban design and financial viability.
Diverse teaching methods include seminars, lectures, tutorials, workshops and a study visit to a European City.
Central London location and contacts
Our central London location provides direct access to professional institutions. The course is informed by current industry priorities.
We have strong links with practice with practitioners regularly contributing to teaching on the course.
Many of our alumni have senior positions in practice.
Approachable and supportive teaching staff, most with substantial experience of practice as well as research
A strong research base informs our teaching – 20% of our research in Architecture and the Built Environment was judged as 'World Leading and a further 45% as 'Internationally Excellent' in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
Westminster is the UK's first Habitat Partner University, working and placing interns with UN-HABITAT and other like-minded institutions to promote social and environmentally sustainable development.
Study at the newly refurbished Marylebone Campus, where a £20million development has provided world-class facilities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Planning, Housing and Urban Design - why Westminster?
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.