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Planning Built Environments - MA

The combination of accelerated climate and environmental change, resource pressures and rapidly evolving social, legal and political contexts demand that the planner of the future is better equipped with the science, tools and skills to help shape the high quality multi-functional places we increasingly need....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School School of Engineering and the Built Environment
  • Faculty Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment

Overview

The combination of accelerated climate and environmental change, resource pressures and rapidly evolving social, legal and political contexts demand that the planner of the future is better equipped with the science, tools and skills to help shape the high quality multi-functional places we increasingly need. The MA Planning Built Environments course applies theory through practice-based learning, on a campus surrounded by exciting new developments, with excellent industry links.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

On this course, you will learn to identify and evaluate the processes, tools and outcomes of planning that lead to more sustainable places across the built environment.

You will learn how to critically assess planning theory and practice and respond to the growing demand for planning practitioners, strategists and consultants to address contemporary and future planning and development challenges within their environmental context.

This built environment course will also enable you to understand the development process and the wider linkages with other built environment professions as well as develop the skills required to assess, analyse and offer practical sustainable solutions to spatial planning problems.

You will experience applied and autonomous learning through the use of real problems and case study materials and develop your problem-solving abilities, practical competencies, critical appraisal and written and oral communication skills.

This course also encourages inter-disciplinary working amongst graduates and professionals from a variety of backgrounds employed within a planning and environment context.

Accredited By

  • Royal Town Planning Institute

This course is about making planners who can respond to a number of integrative challenges, rather than housing/transport/etc. specialists. It will prepare you to face holistic challenges in practice, so you can address them as such, rather than attempting to solve only one part of a problem, and thereby potentially creating perverse outcomes elsewhere. Dr Beck Collins, Programme Leader

Why Choose Us?

  • Accredited course - Accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
  • Draws upon expertise across the sector – The course integrates our expertise across sustainability, real estate and planning as well as external experts in planning research and practice to address key challenges and opportunities across the built environments.
  • Interdisciplinary approach to teaching - Content and topics explore the environmental, economic, social, political and administrative contexts to planning and development.
  • Strong local and industry links - Students have the chance to meet Birmingham City Council staff throughout the programme. Assessments are mostly based on live planning issues and/or local development sites that we can visit.
  • Study at the heart of Birmingham’s regeneration - Your base at the University’s City Centre campus is at the heart of the city’s redevelopment activities.

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to explore our campus and facilities in person. You'll be able to hear more about your chosen subject area from our academics.

Register your interest

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements
Essential

A good honours degree (normally at least a Second Class Honours degree or equivalent).

Desirable

Practical experience is favoured.

Additional information for EU/International students
Essential

You must have an equivalent qualification and have a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.0 or equivalent, with a minimum score of 5.5 in all four skills.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation based on the Retail Prices Index and the additional costs we incur each year to deliver our courses, maintain and develop our infrastructure and provide a range of support services, or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 12 months
  • £7,900 in 2022/23
  • Full Time
  • 18 months with Professional Placement*
  • £8,690 in 2022/23
  • £878 per 20 credits
  • Year 1 - 120 credits
  • Year 2 - 60 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation based on the Retail Prices Index and the additional costs we incur each year to deliver our courses, maintain and develop our infrastructure and provide a range of support services, or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 12 months
  • £16,300 in 2022/23
  • Full Time
  • 18 months with Professional Placement*
  • £17,930 in 2022/23

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

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key Software

You will be able to download SPSS and NVivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Memberships

Free student membership to the Royal Town Institute of Planning (RTPI) is provided on this course.

Media consumable items (mandatory)

This course requires the use of consumables.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected.

How to apply

Please use the links above to apply online. If you can't access our Online Form for any reason, please complete ourpdf application form.

Professional Placement option*

The Professional Placement option will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market.  Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.

You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement.  The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study.  You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School. 

Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course.  All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

Course in Depth

Module

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 180 credits):

This module introduces you to the building blocks of spatial planning as viewed through the economic, social and environmental foundations, and its response to contemporary agendas. It contributes to the formation of personal and professional ethics and values and to your lifelong appreciation of how the core values of planning apply in changing circumstances. Through these different foundations we examine the way in which planning has evolved, and consider the assumptions which underpin planning practice. The module asks critical questions about the role and purpose of planning.

This module introduces you to the role of governance within planning and decision making, including legal issues, rights, and stakeholder/participation-related issues. It explores multi-level and multi-scalar decision making that can be both formal and informal, and addresses the skills needed for planners and planning lawyers to facilitate this process. Key environmental issues, such as climate change, sustainable energy and water management are used as examples with which to explore these issues, as are other planning issues such as transport and protective designations.

This module therefore helps you to understand how to translate the theories of environmental governance into practical solutions for the way forward.

This integrative module enables you to apply knowledge gained in modules throughout the programme to a “real life” practical scenario based assessment. It will provide an understanding of the factors influencing development decisions and how to evaluate possible development solutions in the context of client requirements. You will work in interdisciplinary teams to meet the requirements of your client. The module encourages you to develop competence in evaluating information and will extend your communication and problem solving skills. These are all vitally important in a professional practice situation.

This module will be delivered to Masters programmes in Building Surveying, Real Estate Management and Planning.

Valuation is central to the work of many built environment professionals, especially real estate surveyors, property developers and planners. Valuation expertise is used in a wide range of real estate contexts including investment, asset management, property development and maintenance management.

This module introduces the theory, regulatory environment and practice of valuation. It then builds on these foundations to allow you to develop skills and expertise in advanced valuation methods. The module presents a series of true to life applications and encourages you to consider the wide range of purposes behind valuations. This module aims to provide you with the necessary knowledge, skills and expertise to facilitate your development into a leading real estate professional.

This module will develop your understanding of spatial planning through engagement with the ideas about the creation and management of ‘place’ in different economic, environmental, historical and social contexts. Placemaking is a holistic and global concept that applies to built and natural environments, and it is central to successful spatial planning. Placemaking relates to ‘urban design’, but has also a wider theoretical focus less design and more geography based.This module will allow you to appreciate, at first hand, the processes that contribute to create high quality and inclusive places. The assignments will enableyou to work on a placemaking project in answer to a client brief. Where possible, this will be a real-life project.

The module enables you to understand the importance of working within the boundaries of established professional best practice. It focuses on the skills and competencies that are required in practice to meet professional standards and expectations. This includes ethics; stakeholder analysis; business presentation skills; negotiation; conflict management, team working; reflexivity etc. The module is designed to encourage action research and develop your capacity to address the changing needs of the built environment professions and the wider industry, giving you currency within the market.

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and research-informed Level 7 project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. In agreement with your supervisor, you will decide upon your topic which will take the form of a practical outcome (artefact) with accompanying contextual material. The main consideration when choosing your topic is that it must be aligned to the programme you are studying and informed by the research strategy of your school, and you should consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development.

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This course seeks to shape you as a highly competent professional who can continue to develop not only yourself but also the broader sector.

Practice and research-informed learning, teaching and assessment strategies emphasise problem solving, team working and wider appreciation, with functional and procedural knowledge framed within this broader context.

The course will include problem-based enquiry and learning using the environment as an integrative setting, encourage the demonstration of key competencies within a professional, vocational context driven by engagement with practice and prepare you for a future in which the ability to think and change will be key skills.

Broadly speaking, the teaching strategy moves from staff-led during the early stages of the course to student-led towards the end. The early part of the course is intended to provide you with the basic knowledge and skills to understand how the spatial planning system operates and the need to embed the environmental services lens in processes in order to connect planning across different sectors, land uses and scales. This is achieved through staff-led lectures, seminars and workshops.

Later stages of the course are designed to develop your critical and reflective capabilities and make the links between the various spatial dimensions of planning, and between spatial and non-spatial policy intervention. The emphasis is on interactive learning, including student-led workshops, role-plays and simulations to achieve deeper learning and understanding.

We use visiting teachers, field study visits and research informed teaching to engage you with practice and topical issues. The sharing of appropriate modules across courses helps to enrich your educational experience, and expose you to the perspectives, values and attitudes of students from other disciplines.

The assessment strategy for each module reflects the learning outcomes. Modules that seek to test your ability to assimilate basic information and key concepts and reconstitute them without ready access to source material do so through written examinations. Modules that seek to test higher-order problem-solving skills do so through a variety of formative and assessed coursework methods including essays, evaluations, verbal presentations, posters, planning reports, design presentations, group work, role play scenarios or exams.

This course is accredited by the following organisation:

Royal Town Planning Institute
Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

This course is accredited by the professional planning body, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

The course is designed as a fast track to a professional qualification accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Successful completion of this course will lead to Professional Membership after the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).

Employability

Birmingham City University programmes aim to provide graduates with a set of attributes which prepare them for their future careers. The BCU Graduate:

  • is professional and work ready
  • is a creative problem solver
  • is enterprising
  • has a global outlook.

The University has introduced the Birmingham City University Graduate+ programme, which is an extra-curricular awards framework that is designed to augment the subject based skills that you develop through your programme with broader employability skills and techniques that will enhance your employment options when you leave university.

BCU staff have links with planning authorities and consultancies, which provide good links to employment. We are frequently approached by employers looking for good quality graduates, so we can help our students move into appropriate employment quickly after their course. 

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

International

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

Facilities & Staff


Our Facilities

The facility our students value most is not actually on campus, but is the location of the campus in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside opposite the new High Speed 2 station construction, and minutes from dozens of fascinating live projects within the city centre.

Birmingham as it changes constantly on our doorstep really is our ‘living lab’. By simply looking out the window of our classrooms you’ll be able to witness live projects as they’re happening around us. You’ll constantly be inspired by dozens of fascinating case studies just from walking from the station to the campus.

The facilities on offer to our students reflect the work environment you will enter as you start your career. Learn more about what we have to offer below.

Software

Recognising the rapidly evolving digital built environment we are constantly reviewing software to best fit with the professions of the future.

Autodesk Accredited Centre Status, we use the latest integrated building modelling software across undergraduate courses, seeing Architectural Technology, Building Surveying, Construction Management, Property Development and Planning and Quantity Surveying students engaging in cross discipline information management projects modelling real life experience. Accredited Centre status allowing all students licence to download this software, and making available additional qualifications and certification to those demonstrating expertise and dedication to exploring their own and the limits of the Autodesk environment.

At course level, students engage with the latest and most appropriate software for their future professions. Real Estate students with CoStar, the leading industry database supporting valuations. Quantity Surveyors using Blue Beam, Revu and QS Pro, and along these Quantity Surveyors and Construction Managers use Synchro and Navisworks for 4D and CostX for 5D work. For Building Surveying and Architectural Technology routes, visualisation is important where Enscape, V-Ray Lumion and Sketch-up are available.

Built Environment Space in Millennium Point

The Built Environment Space in Millennium Point is available to all students with a huge resource of software-equipped laptops for loan on campus. For off campus working, much of the software we use comes with free student licences and all students will have access to the Windows Virtual Desktop, allowing access to our range of software from anywhere where the internet is available.

The Studio Space that we've created in Millennium Point is an open workspace where students can work on their design projects. We have all student work and examples that will change every week or month depending on what stage of a project we're at. And it's an open space for working on projects.

This is where our Architectural Technology students and our Building Surveying students in particular, spend a lot of their time.

Concrete and Hydraulics Labs

Our dedicated Civil Engineering facilities include a Hydraulics & Structures lab Concrete & Geotechnics lab as well as a bending rig.

The swollen concrete lab and hydraulics lab are the heart of our Civil Engineering course, where we have a range of test equipment. This is where our students can carry out experimental work as part of their course, either as part modules or using those labs to work on their final year project.


Built Environment facilities

Our staff

Claudia Carter

Reader in Environmental Governance / Associate Professor

Claudia is Associate Professor in the field of interdisciplinary environmental research and environmental governance. Her research relates to climate change and sustainability adopting social-ecological systems thinking/approaches. Her main areas of interest are the opportunities and barriers to 'low-impact' living and the emergence of...

More about Claudia

Amanda Mundell

Senior Lecturer

Amanda is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment and teaches on post-graduate and undergraduate programmes. Her teaching experience is supported by 2:1 law degree (specialising in Planning and Environmental Law), a post-graduate professional qualification (Legal Practice Course), along with 15 years...

More about Amanda