MSc Planning and Urban Leadership (Distance Learning)

Entry year
Course code
Geography and Environmental Management
One year full-time; two years part-time
Distance Learning full-time and part-time; September start
Programme leader
Nick Croft

Page last updated 11 March 2021


The MSc Planning and Urban Leadership is delivered through distance learning, allowing you to choose when and where you learn.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Whether you are looking to make a start in the planning and property field or you already work in the profession, this course will provide the core planning education and specialism expertise you need to make your mark in these growing industries. The MSc Planning and Urban Leadership is designed for those who wish to lead change in the built and natural environment.

Because the course is delivered entirely through distance learning, you'll be able to fit your studies around other commitments. There's no obligation to live locally as your learning and assessment will take place online. Learning materials and opportunities for peer interaction are provided weekly, but you have flexibility as to when you interact.

You'll be taught by widely-published academics, who'll bring the benefit of their own industry experience as well as feeding the latest research directly into your learning.

This course will support the development of skills and knowledge concerning planning and property practice, including plan and policy creation, planning implementation, decision making, development finance, design, governance, and community engagement. 

You will also focus on planning for major projects and managing strategic change, creating a distinctive and valuable specialism for you to take forward into practice.

Real-world practice scenarios will give you hands-on experience of the kind of situations you'll face in practice through applied studies and assessments. The course also embeds professional skills including report writing, argumentation, effective communication, negotiation, and technical skills.

Your new skills and knowledge will make you a perfect match for careers in the planning and property professions, whether in the public, private or third sector. You may also find opportunities in related areas such as housing, development, conservation, environmental management and governance.



Full-time students will study the following modules:

  • Plan Making*
  • Implementation and Design Quality*
  • Leading Urban Change*
  • Planning Major Projects
  • Leading Major Projects
  • Strategic Growth and Infrastructure
  • Dissertation.

Part-time students will study the same modules but the delivery pattern will be different.

*These modules will constitute year one for part-time students.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Your learning experience will be enhanced by a number of technologies, ensuring that it is as effective and rewarding as traditionally taught courses. We use a Virtual Learning Environment for online interaction and collaboration, and lecture capture is enabled through Panopto meaning you can watch lectures and engage in discussion at your convenience.

The interactive nature of the programme means you'll be part of an online community, able to develop ideas and share experiences with your peers, wherever they are in the world.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

The course can be studied either full-time (over one year) or part-time (over two years).

Each 30 credit module consists of approximately 300 hours of study time. The dissertation is spread over 2 years. Therefore, if you study as a part-time course this will equate to 1050 hours per year (300+300+300+150). If you study full-time this will be 2100 hours. This includes time spent on coursework, directed self-study, and your dissertation.

Studying part-time allows you to combine study with work, although being in work is not a requirement of the programme. Our full-time version is an intensive, yet cost-effective way, of accelerating your studies. If you opt to study with us full-time, any accompanying job that you hold should not exceed 16 hours per week to allow you sufficient study time.


You'll be assessed through a range of methods. These include academic essays, reports, portfolios, presentations and your dissertation.

See our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

This course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).


You will have the opportunity to undertake up to two field trips per year alongside students from other UWE Bristol Planning courses: one within the UK, and the other to a major European city. In recent years the Planning School has visited Amsterdam, Dublin, Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, and Copenhagen. You will need to cover travel and accommodation expenses yourself.

Study facilities

As a UWE Bristol student you'll enjoy full access to IT support and online resources, including Blackboard, Panopto and Talis.

You'll also be able to enhance your learning through the vast number of professional and academic journals and databases available online through the UWE Bristol library.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.


Careers / Further study

This course will open up careers across the planning and property profession, whether in the public, private or third sector. Related opportunities include roles in areas such as housing, development, conservation, environmental management and governance.

Get inspired

Our award-winning careers service will develop your employment potential through career coaching and find you graduate jobs, placements and global opportunities.

We can also help find local volunteering and community opportunities, provide support for entrepreneurial activity and get you access to employer events. Visit our employability pages to learn more about careers, employers and what our students are doing six months after graduating.


Supplementary fee information

See our funding pages for more information.


Entry requirements

We normally require an honours degree of 2.2 or above.

We can consider applicants who do not meet the normal entry requirements, but who do have relevant professional experience or qualifications. In your application, you should describe your professional experience and qualifications in detail. You may be required to undertake some study prior to starting the course.

UWE Bristol's International College
International students who do not meet the academic or English language requirements to study this course can qualify by completing preparatory study at our International College.

English Language Requirement

If English is not your first language, you will be required to meet the UK Border Agency and Universities minimum English Language requirements such as the International English Language Test (IELTS) overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.

Further details of our English Language requirements.

English language support

If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.

Read more about our Pre-Sessional English Programme.

How to apply

Read more about postgraduate applications.  

For further information

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