MSc Urban Planning

Entry year
Course code
School of Architecture and Environment
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Part-time: one day per week, full-time: two consecutive days per week. September intake.
Programme leader
Dr Katie McClymont and Dr Hooman Foroughmand Araabi

This course is open for applications

Page last updated 6 February 2024


A highly flexible, professionally accredited course from a well-established department with excellent industry and placement links. Taught by active researchers and academic experts, with input from leading industry figures, the course is highly reflective of current practice.

Accreditations and partnerships:

MSc Urban Planning is suited to a range of entrants - graduates from related disciplines, such as geography, professionals from planning practice and those from non-related backgrounds who are passionate about the subject. It is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute and prepares you for work as a planner in a wide range of roles, including in local or central government, private practice and the third sector. We also prepare you for potential work outside the UK, with an international context to the knowledge and skills you develop.

Linking learning with current practice

The course comprises advanced postgraduate study in urban planning and is firmly underpinned by a wide range of research, some of which is carried out by the course's excellent teaching staff and by faculty scholarships, consultancy and links with practice. Indeed, learning is strongly linked to practice, helping you become an effective, professionally qualified planner.

It also offers a range of study patterns to allow easier access to the course. Available over one or two years, it includes 'time out' options to help you manage your personal and professional commitments around your studies.

You can also specialise. We provide core planning knowledge and skills, with a range of specialised areas of planning available as you progress. 



The optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change.

You will study (the number depending on your credit requirements):

  • Dissertation (30 credits)
  • History and Theory of Urban Planning (30 credits) - A look at some of the main ideas and theories that have shaped urban and rural spatial planning, focusing on the post-world war two era. Against this background, we critically examine the fundamental justification and purposes of town planning.
  • Implementation and Design Quality (30 credits) - This gives you a practical and theoretical understanding of approaches to managing development through the mechanisms and system of planning. You will also develop an understanding of the analytical skills needed to make your decisions 'outcome-focused'. 
  • Plan Making (30 credits) - An introduction to the core skills in conceiving, developing and writing plans for a range of spatial scales in a range of sectors.

Plus optional modules (the number depending on credit requirements) from:

  • Agency Project B
  • Changing Travel Behaviour
  • Grassroots Planning
  • Healthy Cities
  • Leading Major Projects
  • Planning for Conservation
  • Transport Policy and Finance
  • Urban Design.

Please also note this structure is for the full-time course delivery only. For part-time delivery, the same modules will be studied. However, the structure will differ.

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

We use a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, seminars, workshops, discussions, teamwork, presentations and external visits.

We also have guest lectures from professional practitioners, which give you valuable insights into the latest developments in practice.

See our glossary of teaching and learning terms.

Study time

If you study full-time, you will attend classes for two consecutive days a week, with tutoring, reading and cross-department lectures on top. This means you should expect and plan to be occupied with your studies for a full week.

If you study part-time, you will attend classes for one day a week over two years, effectively combining work with study. The course is flexible and you can switch your study mode if your circumstances or commitments change.

Full and part-time students attend a two-day induction session at the start of the course and spend the summer term working on their dissertations.


All assessment is by coursework for each module, on a credit basis. This means patterns of study can be flexible. The modules are assessed through a mixture of group and individual presentations, essays, reports, portfolio work and presentation boards.  

See our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

This course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and supported by a vibrant research community.

The course is taught by staff actively engaged with the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments and the Centre for Transport and Society.


There is a short field trip to a northern UK city and an international field trip to a major European city in the second semester. In recent years this has included Amsterdam, Dublin, Bordeaux, Lyon and Copenhagen.

Study facilities

The department has invested in online and offline computer-based resources to support all the course's modules, which is especially useful if you're studying via distance learning. You also have access to a vast number of journals and databases online, through the UWE library.

The library and several of the campus computer labs are available 24 hours a day, and the faculty's suite of computer rooms supports software for word processing, data analysis, spatial analysis, computer-aided design and other specialist software.

One of our main aims is to foster an active postgraduate community. Graduate students have dedicated teaching rooms and informal areas on the main campus, and each course has a student adviser who provides pastoral support and general advice.

Bristol Planning Law and Policy Conference

The Bristol Planning Law and Policy Conference is an important event for planners and lawyers practicing in planning law. A limited number of free places are offered to current students by the organising committee (consisting of the UWE Short Course Unit and the firms Clarke Willmott, Terence O'Rourke, Bryan Smith Associates and King Sturge).

You may also use our well-equipped laboratories for concrete and environmental services, environmental physics, earth sciences, spatial analysis (including mapping and Geographical Information Systems) and surveying technology. Each has specialist technicians supporting teaching and research.

There is also an audio-visual group that provides support for photography, digital imaging, filming and sound recording.

Find out more about the UWE has to offer.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Planning facilities and see what's on offer here for you.


Postgraduate support

Our support includes access to fantastic facilities, study tools and career consultants, plus practical help to access everything from funding to childcare.


A stunning city for student living with all the qualities to make you want to stay.

Sports, societies and activities

There is more to your experience here than study. Choose to make the most of it and try new things.

Health and Wellbeing

We provide support in the way you need it.

Campus and facilities

Discover our campuses and the wealth of facilities provided for our students.


Careers / Further study

This RTPI-accredited qualification offers postgraduates the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills for a range of fascinating careers, in a field where there is currently a shortage of qualified professionals. Bristol hosts a range of employers, particularly in the consultancy sector.

Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity and access to employer events.


Supplementary fee information

For information on fees, managing your money and determining your fee status, please go to our fees and funding pages.

For information about funding options, visit our postgraduate funding and scholarships pages.


Entry requirements

We normally require an honours degree of 2.2 or above. This course is suitable for graduates of degrees from any academic background, particularly social sciences, geography and planning.

If you do not meet the above grade requirements but have at least 12 months relevant professional experience and/ or equivalent qualifications, we will consider you on an individual basis.

Personal Statement

You are required to complete a personal statement for this course. Please read the personal statement guidance carefully and make sure that you answer the questions on the postgraduate application form within the personal statement tabs, keeping to the advised word count.

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

International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The University accepts a large number of UK and international qualifications in place of IELTS. You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section.

How to apply

Read more about international applications and key international deadline dates.

For further information