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    Urban and Regional Planning

    School of Geography and Planning, Faculty of Social Sciences

    Equip yourself for the planning profession by examining the factors that shape cities and rural areas and exploring how research is used in policy-making and evaluation.
    Four students look down on Sheffield city centre

    Course description

    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.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    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.

    Core modules:

    Spatial Planning Systems

    This module provides an introduction to state-led planning and the key principles that underpin how spatial planning systems seek to shape the built environment. 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 contested by different actors. It will use practical scenarios to explore action surrounding development, the ways in which the state is talked about and organised, as well as the means by which the state makes and implements planning policies.

    15 credits
    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
    Employability and Professional Skills

    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 and career development at the end of your studies. The module has two elements: 1. Cultures of Learning and Professional Skills - understanding how we teach at Sheffield, how to get the most out of your study and how to develop key generic professional/soft skills 2. Employability Skills - preparing you for careers within planning, design, real estate, GIS and related professional areas.

    Optional modules - one from:

    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
    Globalising Cities

    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 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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    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.

    Your career

    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 course design. We'll prepare you for employment after graduation and have a dedicated Employability Manager to support you.

    How we'll help you prepare for your future career


    School of Geography and Planning

    Geography and Planning building
    Geography and Planning building

    We have 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.

    Entry requirements

    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.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Fees and funding

    Additional costs

    Costs for field classes are not included in the tuition fee.



    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 6900

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    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.