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Geography and Planning BA

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Department of Geography

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You are viewing this course for 2021-22 entry.

Key details

Course description

Student writes notes at new housing development in Sheffield

This dual honours degree programme examines how people and places interact. Combining the best elements from courses in Geography and Urban Studies and Planning, this course draws on the teaching and research expertise of staff working across both departments.

This degree is highly flexible. The modules are a combination of geographic and urban planning topics, which offer complementary insights into the processes, policies and practices operating within urban and rural areas. You can select modules in order to specialise in particular areas.

The first year will establish the foundations of your knowledge of human geography and planning. In your second year, the course will build on your understanding of economic, social and political geographies along with the planning policies and market processes that shape change in our towns and countryside. Your third year allows you to specialise in the modules that interest you, and allows you to complete your own research project.


The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

Title: Geography and Planning BA course structure
UCAS code: LK74
Years: 2021

Core modules:

Development, Planning and the State

The module provides an introduction to state intervention into land and property development and to current planning law and practice. Having considered land-use patterns within an unrestrained market economy, the first part of the module covers the development of state machinery in the nineteenth century and the current structure of national, regional and local government. The central part of the module introduces the British planning system as an administrative tool and the final third of the module explores its application to matters of current concern including the accomodation of new housebuilding at the sub-regional scale, and urban conservation.

20 credits
Exploring Human Geographies

The module provides an introduction to human geography including key principles and processes in economic, social and cultural geography. It describes the main elements and issues involved in the global economic system including the process of uneven development and how local economic activities are moulded by global forces. It also provides an introduction to social and cultural geography focusing on a range of concepts, current debates and contemporary issues. Drawing examples from around the world and at a variety of geographical scales, the module highlights the value of a geographical perspective on current economic, social and cultural issues.

20 credits
Information and Communication Skills

The skills needed to be able to find, evaluate, summarise and critically evaluate information are all vital to success in an undergraduate degree programme, and are also key transferable skills. This module will provide training in a wide range of methods for information handling and communication. The teaching is largely in workshops, with students expected to take more responsibility for their own learning as the module progresses. Lectures provide basic tuition in skills, whilst workshops and a range of exercises are used to develop these skills.

10 credits
Professional Skills Development (L1)

This module seeks to deliver a range of study and employability skills through a series of sessions over the academic year, tailored to each student cohort. The module combines careers events, study skills workshops, library induction and other skills events and is designed as an opportunity for all undergraduate students in Town and Regional Planning to improve their student experience through enhanced skills development. Through a series of lectures from visiting practitioners, the careers service and academic staff along with seminars discussing key skills development, students will develop an understanding of the skills required to succeed both in academic life and in the workplace.

The Making of Urban Places

This module will introduce you to cities and urbanisation, from the very first settlements to contemporary metropolises, using examples from across the world. The module focuses on thinking about the role of cities within societies and civilisations throughout history. We will look at how various forces shape cities, the outcomes of urbanisation for cities and their populations and how urban governments and planners have sought to respond to the challenges of urbanisation. We will explore influential ideas which have changed our thinking about cities and examine some of the major global challenges facing cities today.

20 credits

Optional modules:


The main aim of Cities is to introduce you to our urban condition in a global context. Within this broad aim we will connect you to a range of key issues in contemporary urban studies and help you to understand more about the roots of urban problems and questions of social inequality and social justice within that context. This a general course that aims to develop an understanding of urban social life, economies, political systems, disorder and a range of other themes in an international context.

10 credits
Economics for Spatial Planning

This module provides an overview of both theoretical economics and the structure of the UK economy. The first part of the module will consider a number of perspectives on the way an economy operates. Particular attention will be given to market exchange, as modelled by orthodox economic analysis as well as looking at a number of alternative views of economic behaviour; for example, institutional economics and socioeconomics. The second part of the module will examine key characteristics of the UK economy, including issues such as economic cycles, unemployment, land markets and the role of the public and voluntary sectors. Where appropriate, geographical and social differences in economic opportunities and outcomes will be highlighted.

10 credits
Environmental Change and Society

This module will introduce students to a wide range of critical environmental issues facing the world today from physical science and social science perspectives. Using a range of environmental problems evident in the Global North and Global South (such as climate change, water resources, land-use change, agriculture), the physical and social processes implicated will be examined. Drawing on a range of examples, students will critically explore the causes, consequences, management and solutions to environmental issues and learn how to question assumptions about environmental processes.

20 credits
Exploring New Horizons in Geography

Academic Geography is a wide and vibrant field. Geographers contribute actively to new intellectual debates in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and their work addresses some of the most pressing issues facing the modern world, from climate change to food security, informing policy and practice. The module provides level 1 Geography students with a challenging but accessible insight into the cutting edge of contemporary geographical research and how it helps us understand our changing world. It therefore serves as bridge between the general introductory modules of the level 1 BA and BSc courses in Geography, and the more specialist modules taught at levels 2 and 3. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to see the difference that a geographical perspective can make to our understanding of some of the largest challenges facing the world. Each year, a selection of topical issues in contemporary human and physical geography will be explored by academics actively engaged in cutting edge research on those subjects. The course will be taught via lectures and guided reading.

20 credits
Housing, Home and Neighbourhood

Housing and the homes and neighbourhoods that we live in are in the news every day. Whether this is over concerns about housing shortages, affordability, housing bubbles, `generation rent¿, social housing, housing evictions, city-centre housing, DIY and `grand designs¿, or debates about the domestic sphere, `home as a haven¿, `benefit streets¿, flooding and shack settlements, housing is often at the centre of social science research. This module aims to introduce students to this broad and diverse subject by drawing on the expertise of staff who research across these multiple themes. The module focuses on contemporary concerns, while maintaining an appreciation of the impact of historical trends (e.g. the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8). The module will make use of cases from the UK and abroad to illustrate trends, arguments and challenges.

10 credits
Planning Project

The aim of this module is to help you develop an understanding of what a planning problem looks like, and how to understand planning dilemmas in a real-life project context. The module will develop your skills of analysis for urban places and you will gain a basic knowledge of planning tools to address urban issues. You will also develop basic design and drawing skills.

20 credits
The Environmental Challenge

Environmental and ecological challenges are becoming increasingly important in socio-spatial regulation. This module introduces students to the main concepts and theories that underpin environmental policy-making with particular reference to the issues and examples at local, national and global scales. This module has four main aims: (1) to examine the key environmental challenges facing human societies; (2) to explore past, present and possible future responses to those challenges; (3) to provide students with a range of conceptual and analytical tools for analysing political and regulatory responses to environmental conflict and (4) to provide students with knowledge and understanding to assist in confronting environmental challenges.

10 credits
Urban Analytics

This module will serve as an introduction to quantitative research methods, with a specific focus on data sources, analysis methods and presentation techniques for policy analysis in social science. It will expose students to a wide variety of substantive issues surrounding the use of data in practice and enhance their understanding of methods used in the real world policy settings. Students will access and use a range of different datasets, covering demographics, property, and land use. They will be required to demonstrate competence in accessing, analysing and presenting such data in order to gain a deeper understanding of key issues.

10 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.

Learning and assessment


As a top UK planning school, we are acclaimed internationally for the quality of our research-led teaching, much of which is developed in collaboration with the Geography colleagues with whom we share our building. We teach using lectures, seminars, workshops, online resources and cutting-edge technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

A lot of our teaching takes place outside the classroom: Sheffield is a living laboratory where you’ll have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork and learn from community groups and planning professionals.

We offer field classes in the UK and Europe, including a core field trip in your second year which is included in your course fees. You'll also have the option to spend a part of your degree studying at one of our overseas partner universities.

We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

Learning support facilities and library opening hours

You'll be able to access course-related software such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software as well as cutting edge facilities including our virtual reality (VR) studio. 

All our teaching is research-led. Our teaching staff are world-leading researchers and experts in their field: in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), the Department of Urban Studies and Planning was ranked as the #1 RTPI-accredited planning school in the UK.

Our expertise ranges from UK and international planning to real estate, geographical information systems (GIS) and global urban development.


Our courses are assessed through exams, group work, live projects, policy reports, essays and independent studies.

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

Standard offer
Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:

A Levels + additional qualifications | BBB + B in a relevant EPQ BBB + B in a relevant EPQ

International Baccalaureate | 33 32

BTEC | DDD in a relevant subject DDM in a relevant subject

Scottish Highers | AAABB AABBB

Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher | AABBB + B ABBBB + B

Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AB B + BB

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject with Distinctions in 30 Level 3 credits and Merits in 15 Level 3 credits 60 credits overall in a relevant subject with Distinctions in 24 Level 3 credits and Merits in 21 Level 3 credits

Mature students - explore other routes for mature students

English language requirements

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade C/4; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

Other requirements
  • GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

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

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Students write notes at new housing development during fieldwork

We're an internationally-renowned centre of excellence for the study of planning, urban studies and real estate, which includes environmental policy and international development. We help make better, healthier and more sustainable places.

We're the top-rated Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)-accredited planning school in the UK, according to the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014). Our courses will equip you with the knowledge and skills to build a successful career in planning and other urban studies and environmental professions.

Our students are at the heart of a vibrant academic community, contributing to the department through our student-staff committee, evaluation processes and involvement in organised events. Our staff are approachable and we have an excellent staff-student ratio, resulting in a genuinely friendly and inclusive academic environment. Our cutting-edge research feeds directly into our teaching, and you’ll be taught by world-leading academics in urban studies and planning.

We have an intellectual reputation for theoretical strength, especially in the fields of urban inequalities and social justice. Alongside this, many of our staff are involved in practical projects with a commitment to producing positive change in the world. We work with national governments, international bodies such as the UN, research councils, private business, the voluntary sector, and local communities in Sheffield, the UK and abroad.

We're a supportive and friendly department where academics and students interact on a day-to-day basis. For this reason, we operate an open door policy and students do not need to book an appointment to talk to their lecturers.

Our award-winning building sits in the beautiful surroundings of Weston Park, alongside one of the main University libraries.


Urban Studies and Planning students at Sheffield enjoy exclusive access to their own flexible study space, including high-spec networked computers with the latest specialist design and mapping software, as well as dedicated virtual reality (VR) and design facilities.

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Department of Geography

Student pointing out something by riverside

The Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield is a world leader in teaching and research. We're ranked as one of the top 50 universities in the world for geography according to the QS Rankings 2020.

We have over 30 full-time academic staff in the department. Our high staff-to-student ratio ensures that you receive excellent quality teaching and a high level of pastoral support throughout your studies.

The Department of Geography is housed in an award-winning, purpose-built building on the edge of the beautiful Weston Park, close to the Students' Union and central libraries and lecture theatres.

Sheffield is located in an amazing natural laboratory where you will have the opportunity to explore the physical landscape of the Peak District National Park, as well as environmental and agricultural issues across the region. Sheffield itself is a rapidly regenerating post-industrial city with emerging cultural industries and a diverse population, making it an ideal location for human geography fieldwork.


We have a well-equipped computer teaching laboratory, postgraduate and undergraduate physical geography laboratories, and image processing facilities which provide an important component for teaching and research in remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS).

Our facilities

Department of Geography

Why choose Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield

  A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings

  Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014

  No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

No. 1 RTPI accredited planning school in the UK

Research Excellence Framework 2014

UK top 5 for town and country planning and landscape

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020
The Complete University Guide 2020

Top planning school in the Russell Group for student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2020

Student profiles

Graduate careers

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Our dedicated Placements and Employability Manager maintains close links to business and local government, so that you develop crucial employment skills. They can also support you in finding work placements, which will help you gain practical experience to boost your employability.

Most of our graduates go on to work in planning or a related career in the built environment professions, including housing, transport planning, development control, forward planning, regeneration, urban design, heritage and conservation.

Recent graduates have gone on to work for public and private sector organisations such as AECOM, Arup, CBRE, Deloitte, Harrow London Borough Council, Sheffield City Council and the Lake District National Park Authority. More than half of our graduate planners take up posts with planning consultancies and several are employed by major global built environment firms.

Our alumni frequently return to the department to give talks on cutting-edge planning topics. Several alumni sit on our Liaison Board, ensuring our courses are in tune with the needs of employers. Many alumni work at organisations which can offer work placements, or choose to attend our speed networking event where current students can gain one-on-one careers advice.

Department of Geography

Our courses will develop your ability to analyse global problems from a range of perspectives and at different scales. Our students gain geographical and transferable skills that are highly valued by employers.

Ninety-three per cent of our geography and environmental science graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduation (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2017).

As well as specialist skills and knowledge, our degrees provide you with transferable skills that are valued by graduate employers, such as handling data, communicating complex issues, and managing projects from start to finish. Other environmental science graduates have used these assets to secure employment in teaching, law, patenting, finance and banking.

Careers and employability on the Department of Geography website

Fees and funding


Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

Visit us

University open days

There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Taster days

At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.

Upcoming taster sessions

Applicant days

If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book your place on a campus tour

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The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

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