Environmental and Spatial Planning - PgCert / PgDip / MA

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
MA / PgCert / PgDip / MA
  • MA Full Time (1 year)
  • MA Part Time (29 months)
  • PgCert / PgDip / MA Part Time (2 years)
  • PgCert / PgDip / MA Full Time (1 year)
Birmingham School of the Built Environment
City Centre

New scholarships for 2015/16

Postgraduate Scholarships We're aiming to make a postgraduate qualification more affordable and can offer awards of up to £10,000 to selected students.

Find out more about scholarship opportunities for 2015/16

The MA in Environmental and Spatial Planning is aimed primarily at graduates from other related disciplines who wish to become accredited town planners. The course is designed as a fast track to professional qualification and reflects the growth in demand for qualified personnel in this area, and the need for an educational course that fulfils the needs of the profession. The property and construction industry and its related professions are constantly evolving and consequently offer a diverse range of career prospects and challenges.

There are abundant opportunities for a rewarding career in a profession where people can make a real difference to the world in which they live. The programme is rigorous, intensive but coherent, aimed at producing capable, creative, reflective and critical practitioners. This course is fully recognised and accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

The course adopts a knowledge-centric approach to thinking, acting and social process across the broad spread of spatial planning. This lively and challenging approach differs from conventional approaches, based on detailed technical knowledge, by developing a capability to work with incomplete knowledge. Students are encouraged to develop their own approaches to problems rather than being presented with standard solutions.

The programme has two intakes, in September and January, and may be studied in full or part-time mode. The full time duration is 17 months for January starts.

Find out what employers say about the course in the video below.

Key Facts

  • The course is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Successful completion of the course will lead to Professional Membership after the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).
  • The course allows students who have an undergraduate degree in a subject not directly relevant to environmental and spatial planning to adjust their career path and enter this exciting and dynamic profession. A wide variety of degrees allow entry – please contact us for details
  • For graduates with a relevant undergraduate degree, including those with professional experience in planning but who have been out of higher education for some time, the qualification is designed to enhance your career prospects for a management position and boost your earning potential.
  • The course adopts a knowledge-centric approach to thinking, acting and social process across the broad spread of environmental and spatial planning. The course is designed as a fast track to professional qualification and reflects the demand for qualified personnel in this area, and the need for an educational course that fulfils the needs of the profession.
  • In 2014, the School's research work in NEAT (National Ecosystem Approach Toolkit) was the only university research to be shortlisted for the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. 

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

A good UK honours degree at 2:1 or above (or equivalent) in a broad range of subjects agreed as 'cognate' by the RTPI.

Students who do not possess the above qualifications may, in exceptional circumstances if they have relevant professional experience, be invited to an interview, at which they will be required to demonstrate the necessary knowledge and understanding for entry onto the course.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete the most appropriate online application form from the list below.

Online application for UK or EU students
Jan 2015 MA Full Time (1 year)
Jan 2015 MA Part Time (29 months)
Sep 2015 PgCert / PgDip / MA Part Time (2 years)
Sep 2015 PgCert / PgDip / MA Full Time (1 year)
Online application for non-EU students
Jan 2015 MA Full Time (1 year)
Sep 2015 PgCert / PgDip / MA Full Time (1 year)

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Jan 2015 FT 1 year MA £6,970
Jan 2015 PT 29 months MA £3,485 per year
Sep 2015 PT 2 years PgCert / PgDip / MA £3,485 per year
Sep 2015 FT 1 year PgCert / PgDip / MA £6,970
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Jan 2015 FT 1 year MA TBC
Sep 2015 FT 1 year PgCert / PgDip / MA £11,500

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

New scholarships for 2015/16

Postgraduate Scholarships We're aiming to make a postgraduate qualification more affordable and can offer awards of up to £10,000 to selected students.

Find out more about scholarship opportunities for 2015/16

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Postgraduate Open Event

Our next Postgraduate Open Day is on Wednesday 25 November 2015 (2-7pm). Registration will open in September 2015.

PG Open Evening

Our postgraduate open event offers you the chance to:

  • Meet with lecturers and other prospective students to discuss study options
  • Meet and chat with our current students
  • Obtain advice on fees and funding opportunities.

93 per cent of our graduates find work or further study within six months (DLHE). Explore your potential at our open evening.

Who is it for?

Whether you are coming to the end of your undergraduate studies, or have been in your job for a while and want to progress in your career or change direction, a postgraduate qualification gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Our graduates are already shaping the world in a variety of high-profile roles – and you could be next. Read some of our inspiring case studies.

For more information, visit our Open Days page or call our Course Enquiries Team on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

Postgraduate Open Day - 22 April 2015

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

This course offers accreditation by the RTPI and most graduates will enter into a planning/spatial planning career. Graduates of this course have a high employability record. Nearly all our graduates go into employment soon after completion of the course with those who are already in employment seeking to advance their careers following the achievement of the MA. Planning related jobs can be both well paid and challenging.

You could be employed in professional practice (individual firm), commercial organisations, Local Authority or central Government. The Birmingham School of the Built Environment has excellent links with the profession at both a local and national level with a number of the teaching staff still remaining active in this area. The MA Environmental and Spatial Planning will also stretch your transferable skills in areas such as research, time management and reasoned argument.

Further Studies

The University has a range of research (MPhil and PhD) postgraduate programmes.

Course Structure

This intensive programme has been developed to respond to the rapidly changing problems and opportunities within planning. Our approach is fully supported through the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the professional body, the RTPI. The course structure enables you to develop subject knowledge and transferable skills in sustainable planning at the local level, and to link theory and practice through critical reflection. The course provides students with the knowledge, competences and values needed to become part of this profession.

The overseas field trip to Freiburg and Berlin (Germany) has been a popular part of the course since 2006. The field trip includes walking tours, speakers, and visits specifically designed to be of relevance to the contemporary nature of the course and covers topic areas such as sustainability, climate change, renewable energy etc. Student feedback suggests that each cohort has a positive experience both educationally and socially.

The Strategy into Practice module has been praised for its problem-based approach to learning. Student-led workshops are backed up by tutorial support, with aspiring planners working closely with potential property developers (and in future those on other courses) which leads to genuinely multi-professional learning environments in the context of the built environment.

The Research Project 60-credit module is an interesting innovation which replaced the more traditional dissertation. Students produce potentially publishable articles in the style of a journal paper.

Course Modules

Semester 1 - Postgraduate Certificate - 60 Credits
Spirit and Purpose Planning 15 Credits
Policies and Plans 15 Credits
Development Management 15 Credits
Planning Futures 15 Credits
Semester 2 - Postgraduate Diploma - 120 Credits
Strategy into Practice 15 Credits
Development Processes and Place Making 30 Credits
Law and Environment Governance 15 Credits
Semester 3 - MSc Award - 180 Credits
Master's Project 60 Credits

Example of Module Content: Spirit and Purpose of Planning

This module will contribute to your overall understanding of the principles of spatial planning. As such it will contribute toward the formation of professional ethics and values and contribute to your lifelong appreciation of how the core values of planning can be applied in changed circumstances.

Dr Rachel Curzon

Senior Lecturer

2010 to present
Senior Lecturer and Course Director, Birmingham School of the Built Environment, Birmingham City University

2005 - 2009
Lecturer, School of Property, Construction and Planning
Teaching across a range of courses at UG and PG level. Number of subject areas covered including: planning, sustainability, research methods, environmental challenges, land use change etc.

2004 - 2005
Asia Link Co-ordinator, University of Central England
Worked on a number of bids bringing together different educational institutions.

2003 - 2004
Research Assistant, Centre for Public Policy and Urban Change, University of Central England
Range of reports produced on number of commissioned projects across the West Midlands.

2002 - 2004
Visiting Lecturer, School of Planning and Housing, University of Central England
Taught on a number of undergraduate modules relating to tourism, sustainability, environmental challenges, minerals planning, land use.

2002 - 2004
Research assistant (Europark project),School of Architecture and Landscape, University of Central England
Two year project working with 12 partners across Europe. Project aimed to design a training strategy, address issues of use of land resources, environmental education and rural tourism in the context of sustainable development, which could be locally implemented. The outcome of the project was an e-learning facility and good practice manual published in English and Italian.

David Adams

Lecturer in Planning

David is a Lecturer in the Birmingham School of the Built Environment and has worked for Birmingham City University since 2008. Prior to this David was a Planning Policy and Research Officer at Staffordshire County Council.

During his time at Staffordshire County Council, David was employed as a Planning Research and Information Officer within the Research Unit. The Research Unit underpinned the strategic planning, highways and transportation work of the County Council by providing the key information which helped the Council's policy makers to understand the changing character, trends and issues affecting Staffordshire.

More specifically, David was engaged with providing technical expertise that filtered into policy guidance for some key areas of regional/strategic planning and corporate activity. In accordance with the provisions set out in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, a large focus of his work was based around contributing to the County Council's role of giving advice to the Regional Planning Body that fed into the partial review of the West Midlands Regional Strategy.

Jenna Wallis

Planning Officer, Planning Regeneration Team, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Already working in the planning field, Jenna came to Birmingham City University to study part-time with the aim of progressing further in her profession. Benefiting from a great study environment, supportive and friendly staff, and the chance to study overseas, Jenna finished her course with a Distinction, and has big plans for the future.

Without studying this qualification I could not have made the step from Project Officer to Planning Officer. Studying an academic course also boosted my confidence in my research and analytical abilities, while learning new skills and meeting others within the profession, from home and abroad.

Birmingham City University has been Sandwell Council's preferred university to train its planning staff for many years. In addition its central location, its new campus at Millennium Point provides an excellent learning environment. The staff at the university are helpful, supportive and knowledgeable.

I enjoyed the academia; researching, analysing and drawing conclusions to current planning topics and debates. The staff and students were a joy to be around, and I have made some true friends from my time at the University. I also benefited from visiting Germany as part of my studies, and this was a positive experience I will never forget. Most of all I was thrilled to receive a Distinction for my MA, thanks to not only my own hard work but also the support I had from staff, students, Sandwell MBC colleagues, and of course my friends and family.

Now being a qualified planning officer I am trying to get as much varied experience in the planning field as I can, so that I can become a multi-disciplined planner. I hope one day to become a senior manager within my area of work. I am also a Royal Town Planning Institute Future Planners Ambassador where I visit schools and introduce pupils to the planning profession. I aim to continue this work, along with my involvement with the RTPI.


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from outside the UK


For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (10Mb).

Further Information

Birmingham School of the Built Environment
Birmingham City University
Millennium Point
Curzon Street
B4 7XG

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 5400
Email: BSBE

If you haven't already, visit Birmingham School of the Built Environment website for more information.