MSc Planning / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course description

MSc Planning will provide you with the range of skills necessary for a career in urban or environmental planning.

The course is aimed at graduates who want a career in planning and development, either in the public or private sector.

It will provide you with the core knowledge, competencies and skills necessary to become a chartered planning and development professional and a member of both the RTPI and the RICS.

You will gain a solid understanding of planning procedures, urban theories and spatial analysis. You will study the processes that frame planning projects, from project inception, site assessment and initial design through to the planning, implementation and scheme disposal.


You will:

  • tailor the course to your professional interests by choosing from numerous optional units;
  • develop specialist knowledge for a career in planning;
  • gain an international perspective of planning

Special features

  • Benefit from small-group teaching, close staff-student relationships, and guided one-to-one supervision.
  • Develop practical skills in project studios with drawing facilities, model-making workshops, and specialist design and spatial analysis software.
  • Enjoy fieldwork opportunities in the UK and abroad (if permitted by the current pandemic situation), exploring real-life issues on one-day trips, site visits, and overseas residential visits. Past locations included Manchester, London, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Toronto, Amsterdam, Belfast, Seattle, Dublin and Istanbul.
  • Have the flexibility to mix discipline units or specialise, and choose from a range of optional course units.
  • Study in Manchester, a city where planning has been taught for more than 50 years, and urban development and environmental impacts are on your doorstep.

Teaching and learning

Overseas field visits are currently subject to significant constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent locations of international fieldwork have included Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Belfast, Dublin, Seattle and Toronto.

Fieldwork may be scheduled at any point during the course, and this may include time during University vacations. Successful applicants are expected to be available to attend.

Countries to be visited may change their immigration and visa regulations at short notice. The School cannot guarantee that where visas are required for the field course, they will be granted. The School will ensure that, in the unlikely event that a visa is refused, affected students are not academically disadvantaged.

The course also includes a course unit that introduces students to the excitement of working within a professional, 'real-world' context on a 'live' consultancy project. 

Working with industrial partners, you will be asked to complete a piece of work on an area of planning, urban regeneration, or environmental management - depending on your chosen specialism - to a standard that is expected and demanded in the planning, environmental management or development professions. This core course unit is highly regarded by employers and students alike.

Part-time students complete the course over 24 months. There are no evening or weekend course units available. You should discuss course requirements with the Programme Director and seek approval from your employer. Timetabling information is usually available from late August. You can discuss course unit choices during induction week with the Programme Director.

The School of Environment, Education and Development aim to run advertised fieldwork in the 21/22 Academic Year and we very much hope that students will be able to enjoy the fieldwork experience in the usual way.

The ability of fieldwork to proceed, and whether any changes to proposed fieldwork might be necessary, will remain subject to the current global situation and factors such as the:

  • rules and guidance on travel and activities implemented and published by the UK and overseas governments;
  • outcome of any risk assessments conducted by the University;
  • educational value and student experience of the fieldwork, if significant changes to the proposed fieldwork would be necessary;
  • availability of appropriate insurance cover; and
  • availability of appropriate travel and accommodation and any significant changes to their financial costs.

We will therefore assess on a regular basis the viability of any travel and fieldwork and communicate any decisions to our students at the earliest possible opportunity. Any fieldwork that does go ahead will be subject to a rigorous risk assessment process and the implementation of any protective measures identified by the risk assessment to ensure the health and safety of all of our students and staff. If the fieldwork does not go ahead as planned then the School's focus will be on seeking to offer a suitable alternative and ensure that the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of the programme are met.

Coursework and assessment

You are continuously assessed via a range of methods, including essays and report writing, topic papers and critical reviews, project portfolios, and assessed workshop presentations.

Formative feedback is provided through the courses both orally and in written forms to help you develop further key skills.

A 15,000-word dissertation on an approved topic is discussed and chosen at the beginning of the second semester and a suitable supervisor allocated.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Planning Powers and Procedures PLAN60021 15 Mandatory
Urban Theory, Planning Theory and Professional Ethics PLAN60041 15 Mandatory
Dissertation [MSc Planning] PLAN60090 60 Mandatory
Land and Development PLAN60102 15 Mandatory
Applied Spatial Analysis for Planning PLAN60761 15 Mandatory
Neighbourhood Planning Project PLAN60812 15 Mandatory
Infrastructure Planning PLAN60872 15 Mandatory
Professional Placement PLAN60070 15 Optional
Design for Healthy Places PLAN60111 15 Optional
Property Valuation PLAN60331 15 Optional
International Urban Design PLAN60491 15 Optional
Local Economic Development PLAN60511 15 Optional
Urban and Regional Policy PLAN60712 15 Optional
Urban Design Project PLAN60722 15 Optional
Planning for Environmental Change PLAN60772 15 Optional
Neighbourhood Planning Project PLAN60812 15 Optional
International Planning: Systems and Frameworks PLAN60861 15 Optional
Urban Development Planning in Cities of the South: an international perspective PLAN72061 15 Optional
Best practice case studies in urban development planning in cities in the South PLAN72072 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 19 course units

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a number of postgraduate taught scholarships and merit awards to outstanding applicants and international students.

In addition, the Manchester Alumni Scholarship Scheme offers a £3,000 reduction in tuition fees to University of Manchester alumni who achieved a first-class Bachelors degree within the last three years and are progressing to a postgraduate taught master's course.

For more information, see Fees and funding or search the University's postgraduate funding database .


You can develop your practical skills in our project studio, model-making workshop, and computer suites with specialist design and spatial analysis software.

For more information, see  Facilities

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service.

For more information, email