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MPlan Planning with Professional Placement / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course description

MPlan Master of Planning with Professional Placement is a five-year enhanced undergraduate degree, which gives you real-world experience and key employability skills, and is accredited by both the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). 

The curriculum of Years 1, 3 and 4 are the same as our BSc Planning and Real Estate, in which you will consider the issues faced by professionals in dealing with the planning, development and management of all aspects of our built and natural environments.

In the third year of study you will embark on a paid work placement with an organisation engaged with planning, environment, urban design and/or real estate to apply the conceptual, digital and communication skills you practice.

The fifth year of study is at taught master's level and provides professional training in planning.

However, if you change your mind about your future career, you can choose to exit the MPlan after four years and graduate instead with a BSc Planning and Real Estate degree.

Effective planning, development and management of our towns, cities and natural environment is crucial in an age when governments and societies all over the world are struggling to deliver sustainable development.

Understanding and engaging with the problems facing the communities and places in which we live, work and play is at the heart of what we do in the Department of Planning and Environmental Management at The University of Manchester.

The Master of Planning (MPlan) satisfies the spatial planning curricula for initial qualification with the RTPI and the RICS Planning and Development pathway.

Manchester is a great place to study planning.

It is a major UK city undergoing rapid urban change, which provides an ideal base for exploring urban development pressures and how these shape economic, social and environmental futures.

Developing an appreciation of the interaction of people, the economy, and the politics of development are central to this process and your studies in Manchester. 

The city is also ideally placed for you to learn about a wide variety of rural environments which have interesting implications, including three spectacular National Parks, areas of intensive farming and impressive coastlines.


  • Gain a framework of knowledge and understanding relating to the fields of urban and environmental planning.
  • Thrive in an intellectually challenging and stimulating learning environment.
  • Gain an appropriate range of skills for the development and delivery of the emerging spatial planning system.
  • Gain experience of applying conceptual, communication and digital skills in a real-world focussed placement.

Special features

Portugal field trip


This course is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) - meaning you'll be well set-up for a professional career in planning or real estate after you graduate.

International fieldwork

Take part in international fieldwork in Portugal or another European country during your second year, where you can put what you've learnt so far into practice.

Local fieldwork

Conduct fieldwork on a local scale, exploring the city of Manchester - and its surrounding areas - to supplement your studies and assessments.

Year in practice

Spend 12 months working within the dynamic world of planning, environment, urban design and real estate putting into practice the skills you learn on the degree helping you to gain your professional accreditation.

Teaching and learning

We combine traditional lecture-based teaching with tutorials, seminars and workshop sessions.

Practical subjects, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Photoshop and SketchUp - as well as general computer skills - are taught primarily in the Humanities computer suites.

This work is accompanied by group work and the occasional lecture session, giving you an overall hands-on learning experience.

Project-based learning, incorporating studio-based design work, field research and study visits are integral to our MPlan course.

These projects provide an excellent opportunity for you to integrate your knowledge and skills, and apply them to real situations - exposing your to professional practice.

Coursework and assessment

We place strong emphasis on coursework and continuous assessment, and less than half of your total assessments throughout the course consist of formal written examinations in traditional essay formats.

Coursework takes a variety of forms - from essays and reports, to posters, oral presentations, team promotions, and project demonstrations (sometimes to practising professionals).

Your dissertation, taken in the second and third years, will draw together the different strands of the course and allow you to study a subject that really interests you.

You will work with an individual supervisor to conceive, plan, execute and write up an independent and novel piece of research.

Course content for year 1

Year 1 is a broad introduction to the fundamentals of planning.

Course units for year 1

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
Designing Sustainable Futures PLAN10031 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Planning and Development PLAN10041 20 Mandatory
Applied Project PLAN10092 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Real Estate PLAN10201 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Urban and Environmental Economics PLAN10352 20 Mandatory
Rural Planning PLAN10362 10 Optional
Leases & Letting PLAN10382 10 Optional

Course content for year 2

In Year 2, you will begin to specialise.

You will spend time on fieldwork in Portugal (or equivalent) and can also apply to spend one semester studying abroad at one of our exchange partners in Europe, the US, South East Asia and Australia.

Course content for year 3

In Year 3, you will undertake a 12-month paid work placement.

You will work in a planning, environment, urban design and/or real estate organisation to gain experience of applying the conceptual, digital and communication skills you have learned in real-world situations.

Placements in Year 3 can only be undertaken with UK-based organisations.

Students will research potential employers with the support of Planning staff.

To facilitate securing a placement, staff will utilise our database of existing contacts in local and national organisations. 

However, there will be an expectation that students will research potential placements themselves, with Planning staff and the University Careers Service providing additional support to obtain their chosen placement.

Information regarding placements is currently disseminated via Programme Director emails from potential placement providers.

Placements in Year 3 can only be undertaken with UK-based organisations.

In addition, you will receive guidance via a non-credit bearing set of seminars/lectures in Year 2 to outline the process of obtaining a placement.

This will be delivered in both Semester 1 and 2 with the emphasis being placed on student searches in Semester 1, and Planning guidance in Semester 2.

Course content for year 4

In Year 4, you will develop further specialism.

You will focus on career development and applying the planning concepts and skills to real-world situations.

Course content for year 5

In Year 5, you will continue developing your specialism and professional-related studies in spatial planning, environment, urban design, real estate, urban regeneration or international planning.

Scholarships and bursaries

We are committed to attracting and supporting the very best students from all backgrounds to study this course. You could be eligible for cash bursaries of up to £2500 to support your studies.

Find out more at Funding opportunities .


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. Email: