Our cities are the beating heart of our communities, societies and economies. They’re the intricate networks of design, development, decisions and policies that impact the lives of everyone every day. Urban planners play a crucial role in balancing all of these functions, and without their expertise, society wouldn’t be able to function.

As urban populations continue to grow exponentially, the need to align development with sustainability is paramount. On UCEM’s part-time, online MSc Urban Planning programme, you’ll study the relationship between our urban and natural environments, and gain the knowledge and expertise needed to help realise a sustainable built environment.

Why study this programme?

  1. Develop the knowledge required to play a pivotal role in planning the future of cities, communities and the environment
  2. Acquire the technical understanding necessary to navigate the complex field of socio-political planning
  3. Learn how to balance the demand for infrastructure construction with the need for sustainable climate change mitigation
  4. Facilitate collaborative placemaking design that brings value, both today and for future generations

About the programme

This part-time online programme will provide you with the platform from which you can play a key role in the creation and development of sustainable urban environments. It will guide you through and provide you with the foundational knowledge and critical skills needed at every stage of the planning process.

  • Understand the history of spatial and urban planning and the legal and institutional structures that govern the practice
  • Consider the principles behind urban planning and their impact on the evolution of the built environment
  • Learn how to solve complex planning conflicts that arise from the need to balance social, economic and environmental issues
  • Hone your ability to gather, analyse and frame decision making around data from varied sources
  • Build the negotiation and collaborative skills needed to achieve a positive outcome between clients and stakeholders
  • Appreciate how placemaking can add significant value to the well-being and health of a community, as well as its assets

The content of this course combines theoretical knowledge with analytical skills and practical underpinning, drawing upon case studies from both the UK and overseas to provide real-world context.

You will have the opportunity to build your knowledge on a range of theoretical concepts and planning practices, from biodiversity net gain and characterisation studies to risk appraisal, zoning analysis and many more.


Who is this programme for?

Built for you

Built environment professionals looking to specialise or transition to a career in urban/regional planning

Individuals with a passion for sustainability wanting to make a difference to community development and society at large

University graduates with a degree and/or interest in land-related topics considering a career in the built environment

This programme will enable you to join the professionals who design and develop towns and cities, balancing the social, economic and environmental resources of property and land with the needs of national and local communities."

Amanda Lewis
Programme Leader


Modules you will study

Programme outline




1 1 Planning Concepts, Context and Governance

Land Use and Property Markets

Valuations for Planners

2 Planning Process, Practice and Leadership

Real Estate and Development Appraisal

Research Skills and Current Affairs

2 1 Planning Sustainable Environments

Placemaking for Sustainable Communities

Independent Research Project (commenced)

2 Independent Research Project (completed)


If you require further information about programme content, please view the programme specification, which sets out aims, intended learning outcomes and assessment methods.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Entrants to this programme normally are required to have attained one of the following:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree with honours at upper second standard (2:1) as a minimum, or equivalent;
  • A Bachelor’s degree with honours at lower second standard (2:2) as a minimum, or equivalent, and be employed in a relevant role and with 1 years’ experience in a relevant field;
  • A Bachelor’s Degree with honours at lower second standard (2:2) as a minimum, or equivalent, in a built environment subject such as Architecture, Surveying, Real Estate Management, Geography, or Environmental Science;
  • A Level 5 qualification as defined by Framework for Higher Education Qualifications for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) plus 5 years’ relevant experience;
  • A professional qualification plus 5 years’ relevant experience;
  • Successfully completed the UCEM Postgraduate Access programme* at the first attempt.
English language requirements

English language requirement

All UCEM programmes are taught and assessed in English. The applicant will therefore be required to demonstrate adequate proficiency in the language before being admitted to a course*:


  • GCSE Grade 4 (or C) or above in English Language or English Literature, or an equivalent qualification. For further information on equivalent qualifications please contact: admissions@ucem.ac.uk.
  • Grade 6.0 or above, with at least 6.0 in the reading and writing modules, in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) academic test administered by the British Council.
  • 88 or above in the Internet option, 230 or above in the computer-based option or 570 or above in the paper-based option, of the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test.
  • Grade 4 (or C) or above in English (Language or Literature) at A/S Level.
  • HKDSE (Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education) Grade 3, or HKALE (Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination – Advanced Level & Advanced Supplementary Level) Grade E, or HKCEE (Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination) Grade 3-5* or Grade A-D (Syllabus B only).


* Applicants with a Bachelor’s Degree that has been taught and examined in the English medium can be considered for entry in the absence of the qualifications detailed above.


How you’ll be supported during your studies

While studying with UCEM, you’ll be fully supported on your programme by our friendly and informative academic and support teams who will be there to guide you from the moment you enrol until the day you graduate. They’ll assist you with your online learning experience, provide you with academic support and be there for you if you have any disability or wellbeing support needs.

Student Advice team

This team is your first point of contact as a student. They will support you in your studies and queries, ensuring you are put in touch with the right teams and services within UCEM.

Support lecturers

This team will help you navigate the world of online learning and the VLE. Whether you need help with online learning or managing your workload, this team is here to support you all the way through your journey.

Academic support

Our academics are experts in their fields and are here to make your studies with UCEM stimulating and inspiring whilst offering vital support and guidance along the way.

Disability and wellbeing team

This friendly team is here to listen and provide expert guidance, support and assistance at any time throughout your studies.

How you’ll learn

The online learning experience

Your learning experience with UCEM will be fully supported through a range of activities on our VLE. You’ll also have access to UCEM’s valuable and comprehensive e-library service, providing you with a wealth of subject-specific materials to support you throughout your studies.

Your learning will be broken down into the following (on average):

Directed study time (30%)

Participating in webinars and online discussion forums

Watching videos and voice-over presentations

Undertaking exercises and quizzes linked to programme material

Self-directed study time (35%)

Reading textbooks and study papers to develop your subject knowledge

Assessment study time (35%)

Planning and writing coursework

Students will take part in group work in their second year. This may entail working through a simulated planning inquiry or consultation, and then collaborating to collect and share research material, before collating and presenting it to a panel.

Each 20-credit module equates to a total of 200 study hours broken down between directed online learning, self-directed learning and assessment.

The types of assessments used on this programme will include coursework (such as essays, reports, portfolios, reflections, problem or short questions or video presentations), computer-based assessments and computer-marked assessments (CMAs), and independent research projects. The exact combinations of assessment will vary from module to module.

Study methods

Studying online means taking control of when and where you study so you can study at your own pace, no matter where you are in the world. It means being able to balance your home and work life with your education so you can earn while you learn.

When you study at UCEM, you’ll be using our state-of-the-art Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), a specialised resource which provides you with everything you need to keep on top of your studies and succeed.

You’ll be guided through your learning with weekly study schedules and course guides, which you can adapt to suit your needs, pace and lifestyle. Studying online doesn’t mean studying alone as you’ll be fully supported by lecturers and a community of students throughout your journey.


Your expected time commitment for the part-time route is on average around 20 hours per week. This is based on you studying two modules per six-month semester.


The programme has been designed to align with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) requirements for chartered membership. UCEM plans to seek RICS and RTPI accreditation in due course. RICS accreditation for the programme will be sought for September 2024. Due to RTPI accreditation processes, the earliest possible date for RTPI accreditation would be September 2027.

Fees and funding

Financial options

2024/25 academic year

£10,600 total cost

This is the total cost for x9 modules (180 credits)

10 credit module = £590

20 credit module = £1,175

40 credit module = £2,370


You can find out more on our payment options page.

You may be eligible for funding for your studies. This programme is designated for Student Finance, and students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland may apply for a Postgraduate Loan. Eligible students can apply for funding each academic year. The loan is then paid in three instalments throughout the academic year. It is also registered with the Skills Funding Agency for Professional and Career Development Loans. You can find out more on our student finance page.

Your programme fees are fixed for the duration of your studies. This means that the fee you pay per module will not increase from one year to the next, as long as you remain registered on the same programme. All learning resources required for successful completion of each module are provided as part of your fee. The core reading resources within each module and additional reference material and supplementary resources to support your studies will be provided via the specific VLE module pages and within the e-library.

Alternative options


Many employers will sponsor their employees on their degree as it will benefit them to have your knowledge within their business.

To find out more information, head to our employer sponsorship webpage.

Apprenticeship route

Those in relevant employment may be suitable for entry to the Chartered Surveyor apprenticeship (Planning and Development pathway). To find more information, head to our become an apprentice webpage.


Need a helping hand with your fees?

Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme

UCEM will fund up to 50% of the UCEM postgraduate programme fee for a limited number of new students who have demonstrated outstanding academic ability and financial need.

You can find out more and apply for the Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme on our financial support page.

Your career

Unlock your potential

This course equips graduates with both the essential subject knowledge and the practical expertise needed to work in planning and development across a range of industries, including town planning, property and development.

There are a wide range of career opportunities for graduates, including but not limited to:

  • Town planning
  • Transportation planning
  • Urban placemaking
  • Infrastructure providers
  • Development management
  • Spatial planning
  • Regional planning
  • Land and property development
  • Public realm design
  • Commercial real estate development
  • Economic development
  • Urban regeneration
  • Planning consultancy
  • Housing providers
  • Planning conservation
  • Local authority planning
  • Planning and development surveyor
  • National and regional strategic planning advisors

Application process

It’s time to apply

Autumn 2024

Apply by 12 August 2024 to start on 30 September 2024