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MSc Sustainable Planning

Why choose Herts?

Industry Recognised Accreditation: Accredited by The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Work-Related Learning: You will attend annual Careers Fairs and will benefit from interactions with our vast employer links and Planning Employers Network.

Professional Accreditations

The course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). As an accredited planning programme, you’ll benefit from the opportunity to become student members of the RTPI. As a student member of the Institute, you’ll have access to networking events and student resources. Upon graduation, you’ll be able to apply for full professional membership.

AESOP logoRTPI logo

About the course

The MSc Sustainable Planning is delivered in the Ebenezer Howard School of Planning, reflecting our unique location in the county which houses the world’s first garden cities and our focus on exploring the contemporary planning implications of this placemaking patrimony.

Planning plays a key role to play in improving the condition of life in our towns, cities and rural areas. Towns and cities themselves impact on global sustainability and can play a very influential role in tackling global environmental, social and economic problems.

The breadth of material covered will give you the skills you need in order to meet contemporary sustainability challenges in planning cities and rural areas. The planning system provides one of the most sophisticated mechanisms for regulating environmental change, global environmental, social and economic problems and implementing sustainability principles.

You’ll benefit from a wide range of modules, from Planning Law, Policy and Practice to Sustainable Energy and Urban Design and Conservation. You'll choose between three pathways: MSc Sustainable Planning, MSc Sustainable Planning and Environmental Management and MSc Sustainable Planning and Transport.

This programme offers you opportunities to gain valuable skills in a much needed and fast changing professional area and makes you highly employable in a diverse range of disciplines which will allow you to contribute to the creation of more sustainable urban environments.

Why choose this course?

This exciting course is specifically aimed at people wishing to gain expertise in contemporary sustainability issues. It provides graduates with excellent career opportunities in a complete range of planning specialisms.

Through our problem-based approach, you’ll benefit from a stimulating learning environment which challenges you through real planning issues and case studies. You’ll learn the role planning plays in addressing, and solve key sustainability concerns, including climate change, urban sprawl, social cohesion, and demands for personal mobility. You’ll also get to use the latest techniques including GIS; urban design tools and community engagement techniques such as charrettes.

Throughout the course, you’ll be supported by research-active staff, and insights from a broad range of practitioner lecturers, who will encourage you to explore the latest research, applications of knowledge and case studies in the industry.

You’ll have the opportunity to go on field trips locally and further afield. The University of Hertfordshire is uniquely located near the world’s first Garden City - nearby Letchworth Garden City - and the first New Towns. Additionally, our Comparative Planning Practice module includes a residential visit to explore and compare transport planning systems in a different policy context. Any travel and accommodation costs of field trips are included in course fees.

Whether you have experience or a previous degree in planning, or a related discipline, this course will enable you to broaden your horizons and excel in your career. Previous students have joined the course from a range of backgrounds, including:

  • students who have had work experience in planning, or a related discipline
  • new graduates starting out their career in planning with a first degree in geography, environmental science, conservation, sociology, architecture and urban studies
  • students from other discipline who have developed an interest in planning through voluntary work, work experience or project work.

Whatever your background, this course will give you the skills you need to succeed.

We're proud to have ranked 9th overall for geography, earth and environmental studies in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES, Advance HE, 2023). You can be confident in knowing you're receiving an exceptional learning experience when you study this course.

What will I study?

The MSc Sustainable Planning programme structure is based on a series of modules each of which requires 150 hours of study. These modules are centred on short courses of two-to-three-day short courses that usually run Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

If you wish to study full-time, the short course components of the modules run approximately twice a month which means that you’ll be attending classes on four weekdays and two Saturdays.

If you want to study alongside your work commitments, the part-time offering enables you to take modules between two and five years. This makes the course flexible and easy to attend.

You’ll benefit from a blended learning approach. Teaching combines a face-to-face teaching and tutorials approach with virtual live teaching allowing easy contact with module leaders and tutors, excellent access to learning materials and online submission of assignments. Modules include workshops, field work, class exercises, seminars and group work. Any travel or accommodation costs of field visits are included in the programme fee.

All of the modules are assessed through coursework. The Environmental Management module only, has one exam. The nature of the coursework will vary, but will include experience in report writing, practical urban design work (no architecture background is required), oral presentations and negotiation skills. 

An extended individual project, the sustainable planning dissertation, will give you the the opportunity to explore an area you’re interested and do primary research with support from an allocated supervisor. The supervisor will encourage you to explore the latest research and provide industry insight. You'll be encourage to link with external organisations, such as local government, voluntary sector organisations or planning consultancies, to produce this piece of primary research that is both academically challenging and of practical benefit.

  • Level 7
    Spatial Analysis for Planning15 CreditsCompulsory
    Urban Design and Conservation15 CreditsCompulsory
    Sustainable Planning Dissertation30 CreditsCompulsory
    Research Methods15 CreditsCompulsory
    Development Viability and Assessment15 CreditsCompulsory
    Planning Law, Policy and Practice15 CreditsCompulsory
    Spatial Planning Theories and Strategies15 CreditsCompulsory
    Community Engagement and the Planning Process15 CreditsCompulsory
    Comparative Planning and Transport Practice15 CreditsCompulsory
    Place-making and Spatial Mediation15 CreditsCompulsory
    Sustainable Energy15 CreditsCompulsory
    Study Skills0 CreditsCompulsory
  • Further course information

    Course fact sheets
    MSc Sustainable Planning Download
    Programme specifications
    MSc Sustainable Planning Download
    Additional information

    Sandwich placement or study abroad year


    Applications open to international and EU students


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