Planning Built Environments - MA
Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry.
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
- Award MA
- Start date September 2024
- Fees View course fees
- School School of Engineering and the Built Environment
- Faculty Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment
This course is:
Open to International Students
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.
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.
The Planning Built Environments Masters at Birmingham City University has provided me with all the skills I need for a successful career in planning. The modules were highly practical, meaning I felt confident transitioning from university to the workplace. I was enrolled on the course with a placement option, and felt I was given excellent support in finding a role at a planning consultancy. The placement has resulted in a job offer and I would therefore highly recommend the course to any aspiring young planner.
Laura Gaffney, MA Planning Built Environment graduate 2022
Why Choose Us?
- Accredited course - Fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and currently presented to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for accreditation under their Planning and Development pathway.
- Cross-sector research and practice expertise – The course integrates our expertise across sustainability, real estate and planning with input from external experts in planning research and practice to address key challenges and opportunities across the built environments.
- Interdisciplinary approach to teaching - Content and assignments provide the foundations for urban and spatial planning careers by exploring the environmental, economic, social, political and administrative contexts to planning policies and processes and how to negotiate multiple benefits in development.
- Strong local and industry links - Some sessions include in-person and online contributions from experienced practitioners and research experts 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.
Join us on campus where you'll be able to find out more about your course, learn about postgraduate finance and get an insight into studying at BCU. Booking for the next event isn’t open yet. Register your interest below and we’ll email you as soon as booking goes live.
Next Event: 29 June 2024
A good honours degree (normally at least a Second Class Honours degree or equivalent).
Practical experience is favoured.
Additional information for EU/International students
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
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 (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.
Starting: Sep 2024
- Full Time
- 12 months
- £8,925 in 2024/25
- Full Time
- 18 months with Professional Placement*
- £9,820 in 2024/25
- Part Time
- 20 months
- Show fees
- £992 per 20 credits
- Year 1 - 60 credits
- Year 2 - 120 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.
Starting: Sep 2024
- Full Time
- 12 months
- £17,710 in 2024/25
- Full Time
- 18 months with Professional Placement*
- £19,485 in 2024/25
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.
You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.
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.
You will be able to download SPSS and NVivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.
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.
You’ll need to submit a personal statement as part of your application for this course. This will need to highlight your passion for postgraduate study – and your chosen course – as well as your personal skills and experience, academic success, and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Not sure what to include? We’re here to help – take a look at our top tips for writing personal statements and download our free postgraduate personal statement guide for further advice and examples from real students.
Course in Depth
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 planning system as it currently exists, how it has evolved since its creation, and how far this reflects the building blocks of spatial planning as viewed through the economic, social and environmental foundations. 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 this critical assessment informed by these different foundations we examine what the planning system has gained, has lost, and may need to rediscover. The module asks critical questions about the role and purpose of planning and considers the assumptions which underpin planning practice.
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.
‘Sustainability in Planning Practice’ (SPP) focuses on key sustainability challenges inherent in day-today planning in England and further afield. This module gives the planning student an insight into the current range of public and private sector sustainable development responsibilities and enables the student to familiarise themselves with key planning law, regulations and policies (including associated relevant ‘tests’/requirements). The module includes an overview of key valuation and measurement methods and provides many opportunities to scrutinise planning policy guidance, frameworks and tools. The module uses examples and case study/ies to elicit the range of ‘values’ associated with planning and development and supports the student in acquiring skills and knowledge for dealing with potentially conflicting economic, social and environmental interests and priorities in the different arenas in which a planner would find themselves.
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 enable you 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.
In order to qualify for the award of MA Planning Built Environments with Professional Placement, a student must successfully complete all of the Level 7 modules listed above as well as the following Level 6 module:
This module is designed to provide you with the opportunity to undertake 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.
Download course specificationDownload now
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 planning knowledge framed within this broader context.
The course includes problem-based enquiry and learning using the environment as an integrative setting; it encourages the demonstration of key competencies within a professional, vocational context driven by engagement with practice and to prepare you for a future in which the ability to envision positive change and work as part of interdisciplinary teams 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 lecturers, 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 with six of the seven modules being coursework-based and one module exam-based. Assessments will test your ability to assimilate basic information and understanding of key concepts.
Furthermore, the use of theories, concepts, policies and legislative provisions to address current planning challenges help test higher-order problem-solving skills 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 (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).
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.
Most of our students find/have jobs in district/county council planning departments or private planning consultancies or housing firms. Those who study part-time, sponsored by their employer on a day-release arrangement, frequently get promoted during or shortly after completing the course. Several alumni having gained recognition and prizes from the RTPI (e.g. regional and national young planner; research excellence awards; commendation for APC) with employers in the region and further afar keen to recruit BCU Planning graduates.
Recent changes to the programme introduced a new module on ‘Sustainability in Planning Practice’. This will help those relatively new to planning to become familiar with the nuts and bolts of planning and gain confidence so that students can enter planning practice well prepared. The module covers a wide range of planning tasks, their legal and regulatory context and frequently encountered sustainability challenges; those already in planning can learn more about the breadth of planning jobs/tasks.
We no longer offer a Valuation module (but cover Viability as part of other modules) because many students felt it was Maths-heavy and more than needed for planners.
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
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.
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, 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.
Professor in Environmental Governance and Planning
Claudia is a 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
Dr Miguel Hincapie-Trivino
Lecturer in Urban Planning and Sustainability
Miguel is a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Sustainability at the University’s Built Environment Department. He teaches across various undergraduate and postgraduate courses on subjects related to sustainable urban design, development projects and digital cities. His research focuses on understanding the role of social actors and public institutions...More about Miguel
Dr Hazel Ann Nash
Senior Lecturer in Planning and Property Law
Hazel is an experienced practitioner, having worked in private industry and central and local Government planning positions. She has previously worked for a variety of rural and urban local authorities in Development Management as well as in the Planning Policy Division of the Welsh Government where she led on the revision of Technical Advice Note...More about Hazel
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
Lecturer in Real Estate
I joined the Birmingham City University teaching team in 2022 and I teach undergraduates and postgraduates across various property-related subjects. I am a University of Nottingham Geography graduate and former alumni of the same course I teach on here at the BCU!More about Chris
Dr Silvia Gullino
Associate Professor in City Making
Silvia holds a BA and MA in Architecture and an MSc in Environmental Engineering, both from the Politecnico di Torino. She gained her PhD in Spatial Planning at the Politecnico di Milano in 2005 and conducted postdoctoral research as a Senior Fellow in International Urban Studies at the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins...More about Silvia
Professor Peter Larkham
Professor of Planning
Peter holds BA and PhD degrees in geography from the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham, and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society. His research focuses on how cities change, in terms of their physical form, design and conservation. His most recent work is on reconstruction...More about Peter
Wil Vincent is an Assistant Lecturer in the Built Environment, having graduated from both our undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Planning at Birmingham City University. He is Programme Leader for the Faculty’s Generalist Degree programmes, offering remedial support to student to maximise their chance for successes on their degree programme....More about Wil
Nicki Schiessel Harvey
Senior Lecturer in Built Environment & Director of Student Recruitment
Nicki Schiessel believes firmly that knowledge must be made applicable to everyday practice, and draws on four years' consultancy with Atkins Environment carrying out EIAs, sustainability appraisals and socio-economic assessments. Nicki is interested in the implications for decision-making of changing values in different environments,...More about Nicki