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Professional course

Local Planning

About this course

Course code:
Professional/Short Course
Geography and Environmental Management
distance learning
Course director:
Adam Sheppard

Page last updated 14 December 2018


This course explores the local planning context of urban planning, focusing upon local governance, plan and policy making, and community engagement and participation.

This course is studied via distance learning and has no required attendance. 

Who is it for?

This course is ideal for anyone working in urban or rural planning, interested in planning, involved in planning (for example Neighbourhood Planning), interacting with the planning system as a professional, or for personal reasons.

It is also suitable if you have no prior knowledge or if you are looking for a refresher, some background, or more detail concerning the workings of the planning system. 

You do not need drawing skills or knowledge of any particular software package to complete this course; the course is focused upon principles and responses conceptually, not technical abilities.

Entry requirements

It is highly recommended however that you first study the Urban Planning: Context and Law CPD course before studying this course.

Careers / Further study

By successfully completing the assessment as part of your course studies, you may be able to use this credit towards one of the Awards within the JDLC Urban and Rural Planning programme family, subject to meeting the entry requirements for these programmes.



Urban and rural planning at the local scale, whatever it may be called, is a crucial element in any planning systems attempts to stimulate development and economic activity, deliver sustainable communities and protect natural environments. People will always need housing, schools, shops, places of work and leisure. Ensuring the right amount, quality and location of these constituents of towns and cities is what local planning is all about. However, despite the diversity of local planning regimes throughout the EU and beyond, wherever local planning is carried out it faces similar problems and tensions, either within local areas, or between sources of central and local government power. For example:

  • What are the key objectives driving the local plan process and how are they prioritised?
  • How and to what extent is local distinctiveness expressed in local planning, if at all?
  • How inclusive is the local plan process? Does it express local neighbourhood and community concerns? Is it principally driven by central directives or developer concerns?
  • How does the local plan process manage the tension between providing both certainty and flexibility in policy terms?

For this reason the Local Planning course concentrates on these intractable and pervasive issues and dilemmas for local planning practice. It provides a critical reflection on these issues and dilemmas along with advice and guidance for the practice of local planning. You will gain a critical and thorough insight into the main challenges facing local planning. In this programme you will explore the following:

  • The purposes of local planning. Enduring dilemmas, themes, and tensions in local planning.
  • Discretion and local distinctiveness.
  • Actors, interests and stakeholders for local planning.
  • Local planning for sustainable homes and work in urban areas.
  • Public participation in local planning: from consultation to participation and planning for real. Bonding, bridging and capacity building.
  • Local planning for sustainable homes and work in rural areas.
  • Local planning for public spaces and the public realm.
  • Power, local planning and the role of the planner.
  • Collaborative planning.
  • Community plan making? Localism, neighbourhood planning and empowerment in practice.
  • Skills for local plan communication.


As part of the course, you will be asked to complete a 15 credit Masters level module in Urban and Rural Planning (you may request to complete the course as class only if you do not wish to submit the assessment). To achieve this accreditation you will be required to complete the following:

  • The assessment will be based upon one component: a 3,500 word essay which provides critical analysis and reflection on the themes and local plan making processes studied by the course.
  • The essay should be 3,500 words (plus photos, maps, diagrams and statistical data as appropriate). Where it draws on academic and professional material (including graphical material and data) the sources should be fully referenced.

What commitment do I have to make?

We would recommend approximately 150 hours to complete this course. This is only a guideline and will depend highly on your learning abilities.

The assessment submission date is set approximately for the end of the course duration, which is eight weeks. Unfortunately, it is not possible to extend this deadline once you have registered for the module. However, if for an unexpected reason you are unable to submit, the University does have an extenuating circumstances policy.

If you are taking the assessment we encourage you to manage your own reading and are happy to supply a list of recommend texts on request.  You will be provided with all of your required reading and content through an online virtual learning environment, and will be able to interact with your tutors via a discussion portal as well as through more traditional means such as email, Skype and telephone.

Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

Please see the table below for current fee. All prices are VAT exempt.

Commencement dateFee
01 April 2019£788 (academic year 2018/19)

(includes module assessment)

How to apply

How to apply

Book NowEnquire Now

For further information

  • Email: Please contact us using the online enquiry form above.
  • Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 86304

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