Explore this course:
Register your interest to hear about postgraduate study and events at the University of Sheffield
Register your interest to hear about postgraduate study and events at the University of Sheffield
Urban and Regional Planning
Department of Urban Studies and Planning,
Faculty of Social Sciences
Our one-year masters will help you get started in the planning profession. The course examines the factors that shape cities and rural areas. We’ll show you how research is used in policy-making and evaluation. You’ll develop research and design skills, and specialise in an aspect of planning.
This MSc is innovative and intensive, with your study carefully structured. The first semester focuses on developing core skills and knowledge in planning, focusing on theories and practices of planning and policy making in the UK, Europe and the fast developing Global South.
In the spring semester you'll apply these skills and knowledge to particular planning problems. You'll also have the opportunity to specialise your study through a number of option modules.
You'll develop a good understanding of both theories of planning and public administration and its practice.
Study in Europe
You have the option to spend the spring semester at one of our European partner universities in either Aalborg, Amsterdam, Lyon or Milan.
This programme is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Completing an accredited course puts you on track to become a chartered town planner, opening up a wide range of future career opportunities.
The first semester provides an introduction to planning and its practice at a variety of spatial scales. You'll learn to understand these scales and how planners act within them. Please note the Professional Skills Development module runs throughout the full academic year.
- Planning Design and Development
This module introduces core knowledge and skills for understanding urban development processes and how they shape the built environment. It will explore key factors that shape the quality of development outcomes including policies and plans, urban design principles, and financial viability. The module develops critical awareness of the potential impacts of development projects on people and places and introduces students to principles and practices of site analysis.15 credits
The module will be taught in three blocks where students will learn: i. site appraisal and how to assess the potential of development sites in planning and policy terms; ii. how to identify key principles of good urban design, and; iii. how to assess the financial viability of development schemes.
Each block will be taught through lectures and workshops that introduce core principles and foundational concepts. Throughout, this will be supplemented by a focus on learning from case studies of urban development, enabling students to begin to apply their understanding to real world examples and to develop skills in critically assessing key factors that shape the quality of urban development and the built environment.
- Perspectives on Spatial Planning and Development
This module is seen as core in developing initial knowledge and understanding of planning and urban development. It critically explores the role of spatial ideas in planning policy and practice and plays a key part in developing critical skills and understanding of different contexts and environments relevant to that practice. The module covers urbanisation in a range of contexts and examines how spatial planning seeks to respond to key economic, environmental and social challenges.15 credits
- Values in Planning
This module explores the inter-relationships between theoretical debates within planning and everyday practice. An awareness of theoretical debates is crucial to understanding the assumptions implicit in spatial planning practice and the challenges confronting practitioners - what frameworks are available to help planners to decide how to act and to determine whether their actions have been appropriate or otherwise? This raises fundamental questions about the very nature of spatial planning and the way it is currently practised. The module, therefore, addresses such questions as: what are the justifications for spatial planning and what goals should it have? What methods should guide the work of practitioners? Is the spatial planning system fair and just? What constitutes ethical action in spatial planning? Particular emphasis is placed on the dilemmas faced by individual practitioners in conducting their day-to-day work. The English planning system forms the focus for the module but it also draws on personal experiences derived from other work environments and planning contexts during the seminars.15 credits
- Professional Skills Development
This module aims to provide a range of supporting skills for home and international students, which will help you get the most out of your learning in Sheffield, and to prepare you for professional employment development at the end of your studies. The module has three elements: 1. Cultures of Learning - understanding how we teach at Sheffield, and how to get the most out of your study 2. Academic English (assessment support). The sessions are particularly relevant to your assessment preparation. 3. Employability Skills - preparing you for careers within planning, design, real estate, global development, GIS and related professional areas.
Optional modules - one from:
- Spatial Planning Systems
This module provides an introduction to state-led planning. It considers the administrative, legal and political contexts in which planning decisions are made and the role of different groups in mediating land-use development. The module will focus around work to understand how spatial planning systems are constructed and mediated by different actors. The module will use practical scenarios to explore how action surrounding development might be organised, the ways in which the state is talked about and how it is organised, as well as the means by which the state makes planning policies and implements these.15 credits
- Urban Development in the Global South
This module explores the challenges of urban planning and development in the global South: how are conflicting imperatives of ecological sustainability, social inclusion and economic competitiveness being balanced by practitioners, and what implications does this have for those living there? The module will develop understanding of how urban planning systems are constructed and mediated by different actors. The unit will use a series of scenarios; representing some of the diversity of conditions that exist in the global South, to develop understandings of how planning systems shape and are shaped by the contexts in which they operate.15 credits
- Politics, Planning and the State
Understanding how cities function is central to the role of planners, urban policy advisers, and other built environment professionals. Drawing on cities from different national contexts, this unit provides an introduction to the administrative, legal and political contexts in which decisions are made about planning, regeneration and development and the role different groups play in mediating and affecting development. The module explores how practitioners approach urban development challenges, define problems and frame policy interventions. Conceptual and practice-based perspectives are employed to encourage students to think critically about the tensions and trade-offs that confront those involved in planning and managing cities.15 credits
The second semester allows you to apply your skills and knowledge to a specialist area of planning. Students can choose from two pathways: 'Planning in the UK' or 'Planning in Europe'. For the former, students take a core Integrated Project and two optional modules from the list below. For the latter, students take the 60-credit module called Planning in Europe.
Core modules (please note that the Integrated Project is a core module for the 'Planning in the UK' pathway while the Planning in Europe module is a core module for the 'Planning in Europe' pathway):
- Integrated Project
This module draws together skills and knowledge gained during the first semester and applies these to the specific problem of planning for an area of Sheffield. The module will use an in-depth project to explore the problems and potential of a site in inner Sheffield. In doing so, the project will develop skills and knowledge in policy making and evaluation, design and property financing. The over-riding objective of this module is not to view each of these three topics as separate, but to understand the inter-connected nature of these topics in order to respond to complex urban problems in an innovative and sensitive manner. Through this module you will develop skills and knowledge in policy appraisal and formulation, analysis of sites and urban areas, urban design and financial and development appraisal. These skills and forms of knowledge will be drawn together in the form of a site-specific planning brief and design-sketch scheme, a financial appraisal and a design report. The module will also develop presentational skills and inter-disciplinary working. The overall aim of the module is to develop knowledge and skills acquired in the first semester of the programme through their application to an actual planning problem by drawing together three critical themes: policy-making and evaluation, design and property financing.30 credits
- Planning in Europe
This module enables students to study for semester 2 in either Lyon, France; Aalborg, Denmark; or Milan, Italy under the EU's Erasmus Programme. The module is taken in a planning department at an overseas university which offers professional courses. The module consists of two broad elements. Firstly, project work focusing on the development of a site or area in the location of the exchange. Secondly, work focusing on a specialist aspect of planning as carried out in the host country. Work will be carried out under the supervision of members of staff in the host institution.60 credits
Optional modules: two from:
- Behaviour in the Built Environment
The urban/built environment influences the behaviour of people; equally, people’s behaviour can shape the environment. Understanding the interaction between people and their environment promotes the design of spaces and buildings that meet the needs of the people who occupy them. This module will discuss principles of behavioural and environmental psychology in the context of the design and management of indoor and outdoor spaces, including the application and interpretation of behavioural research methods. A key objective is for students to be better equipped to deliver a sustainable environment that meets user requirements.15 credits
- Cities of Diversity
Acknowledging diversity within cities is increasingly regarded as central to successful planning, urban development and city making and is a very hotly debated issue currently, particularly with #MeToo, Brexit and Trump! But what do we mean by diversity and what theories exist to help us understand it? This module will focus on various aspects of diversity in the form of differing social identities (such as age, ethnicity, sexuality, disability and gender – including focusing on masculinity within cities) but also critically explore the ways in which diversity is understood by policy makers and city managers. The module will focus on cities in both the global South and North and consider the significance of migration in relation to diversity in both contexts. The module will rely on a critical engagement with literature from the discipline of geography, planning, urban studies and development studies.15 credits
- Citizen Participation in Planning and Development
Recent decades have seen a proliferation of initiatives to involve citizens in policy-making, planning and urban governance. There is widespread agreement that 'citizen engagement' can play a positive role in democratizing urban development. However, public participation raises a range of significant challenges for urban professional practice. This module will draw on critical debates about the roles citizens and publics can and should play in shaping the city to reflect on the theory and practice of participation. The module is taught through seminars which structure learning, and help students to research case studies of participatory initiatives.15 credits
- Transport Planning
This module will provide students with an introduction to transport planning and policy. The module develops students' ability to think critically about the framing of transport policy using UK transport planning as an example. It will focus on how planners in localities give shape to effective transport strategies, which balance a range of environmental, social and economic objectives.15 credits
- Issues in Housing
The aims of the module are twofold: to build both on substantive knowledge, theory and skills about housing gained in earlier parts of both the UG and PG courses, with an emphasis on policy analysis; and to look more closely at the links between housing and planning (in its widest sense) at the local and regional level.15 credits
- International Real Estate Market Analysis
This module will provide a comprehensive introduction to key concepts and approaches to the analysis of international real estate markets. This module makes a simple operational distinction between mature, emergent and transitional markets as a first step towards a systematic framework for analysis. It gives an introduction to specific real estate markets and the ways in which they function, and offers generalizable conclusions about the wider operation of global real estate markets. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of global political economy as a context for interpreting real estate markets.15 credits
- GIS for Built Environment Professionals
This module aims to introduce key Geographical Information Systems (GIS) principles and techniques to students in fields where GIS is becoming an increasingly relevant tool. The focus is on enabling students to develop an understanding of the potential of GIS and some fundamental GIS skills, through a series of workshops using a range of common software. Assessment is through a written report incorporating visualisations and analysis.15 credits
- Urban Informality
The overall aim of this module is to critically examine informality, with a particular but not exclusive focus on cities of the Global South. The module relies on a mixture of lectures, seminars and student-led group work, with the latter focusing on an in-depth case study of a selected city. It explores patterns and causes of informality and discusses the strengths and limitations of a range of theoretical approaches. It also analyses the success of different real-world urban planning responses (understood in broad terms), including government-led, donor-led and community-focused ones, in addressing key urban issues in the context of informality.15 credits
- Planning Law
The course is intended to develop students' expertise in the legal framework for the planning system and to set that legal framework within the wider context of law in the United Kingdom. It considers the origins of planning law and seeks to provide explanations for the powers that the law confers on decision makers. The course focuses particularly on the development control aspects of planning law and looks at the rights and duties of applicants, local authorities and the Secretary of State in making and determining planning applications. It considers the criteria for decision making and the possibilities for the redress of grievance. It considers planning law in the light of wider discussions about human rights and planning gain.15 credits
- Health, Wellbeing and the City
This module explores the urban environment as a determinant of health and well-being and examines how planning and urban design can contribute to improvements in health. Beginning with an exploration of the historic relationship between planning and public health, the module focuses on how the urban environments support or undermine health in relation to mental health, ageing, obesity, air quality and noise pollution. The module also introduces the notion of health impact assessment and further reflects on the contribution of planning to environmental justice and the reduction of inequalities in health.15 credits
- Mega Urban Projects
In many cities nowadays, mega urban projects such as mega events like the Olympic Games or Central Business Districts like Canary Wharf are seen as an effective means to boost the local economy and to promote the city on a global scale. However, many of them often fail to contribute to the local economy whilst having detrimental impacts on local residents and the wider society. This module offers an in-depth understanding of the development processes and outcomes of large-scale urban projects by exploring aspects of why such projects are developed, how they are governed and their socio-economic impacts.15 credits
You will complete your dissertation over the summer.
This is a core module which allows students to develop and manage an individual research project. The module aims to help students to develop and apply research skills and an appreciation of the issues involved in managing a research project; to develop an understanding of the role of research in relation to theoretical and practical dimensions of the chosen discipline; and to further and deepen knowledge in their chosen field of planning, real estate, urban design, development, or related interests.60 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.
1 year full-time
Your course is designed and managed to ensure you get the most out of your course, and have every opportunity to deepen your intellectual and practical skills.
Lectures, tutorials, and seminars give you the chance to examine the knowledge you have gained, and to study current developments in planning. Individual and group projects help develop your research, negotiation, analysis and decision-making skills, and your skills in information technology, and team working. Workshop sessions give you advice and guidance on techniques, strategy and skills in project work. Engagement with guest speakers including policy makers and professional planners helps you to put your learning in context by developing insights into planning practice and governance.
Your personal dissertation supervisor, a specialist in your field of study, will guide you through the research process and help develop your knowledge of leading research in the field.
The emphasis is on continual assessment. This provides feedback and testing of your skills as your work progresses and allows a wide range of skills to be tested.
Assessment methods include essays, policy papers, reports, posters and oral presentations, all designed to test specific skills and levels of understanding. There are no final unseen examinations.
Throughout your time in the department, we will give you support in developing your intellectual and practical skills. Your personal tutor will act as your academic and personal advisor for the year. The course director is also available to discuss any issues with you.
The employability of our graduates is of paramount importance to us. The development of skills, knowledge and personal attributes that enhance your career underpins our programme design. We have a dedicated Employability Manager, Amy Woolley, to support you. We’ll prepare you for employment after graduation.
We are the top-rated Royal Town Planning Institute accredited planning school in the UK (REF 2021), with an intellectual reputation for theoretical strength, especially in the fields of urban inequalities and social justice. Study with us and become part of a new and exciting group of urban professionals and change makers.
As a student at Sheffield, you'll develop the knowledge and skills to build a successful career in planning and related urban and environmental professions. You'll be taught by world-leading academics whose cutting-edge research feeds directly into the seminar room. You'll learn using the latest technology in our dedicated teaching spaces; visualising complex data through Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software and using virtual and augmented reality to explore how people interact with urban spaces.
You'll be at the heart of a vibrant academic community and will benefit from an excellent staff-student ratio, resulting in a genuinely friendly and inclusive academic environment. Our open-door policy means you can drop in on your lecturers at any time during their office hours, without an appointment. We believe this will help with your wellbeing and encourage your intellectual curiosity.
We work with national governments, international bodies such as the UN, research councils, private business, the voluntary sector, and local communities to shape policy and inspire change in urban environments. Join us to explore the pathways to creating fair, just and sustainable places.
I use skills and knowledge from my degree every day
Michelle Howson Planning Project Manager, Lightrock Power, MSc Urban and Regional Planning
MSc Urban and Regional Planning graduate Michelle gives advice for students who are deciding what to do after their degree.
Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree.
We may also consider your application if you do not meet the standard academic requirements but you have relevant professional experience.
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Fees and funding
Costs for field classes are not included in the tuition fee.
You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
+44 114 222 6900
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.