Urban Studies BA
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
You are viewing this course for 2021-2022 entry.
Are you interested in cities and how they are developed? Do you like to think creatively about how urban spaces might work better for people? Are you concerned about social problems in cities and how we tackle the injustices that come with city life?
Our BA Urban Studies programme is a three year honours degree that gives you the opportunity to study the urban and built environment using cutting-edge theories and practices in politics, economics, design, sociology and geography. You'll develop a deep critical awareness of how cities work - and when they don't - and how the fortunes of city dwellers around the world can depend on the actions of global financiers, national politicians, and community activists.
We teach you key analytical and practical skills to prepare you for the workplace. We also allow you to specialise in the aspects of the subject that most interest you.
We also offer the flexibility to transfer between BA Urban Studies and MPlan Urban Studies and Planning, a year or more into your studies.
You can also spend part of your course in another country such as the USA, Denmark, France or Italy.
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:
UCAS code: L722
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 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
- 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
- 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
- Researching the city: applied skills for practice
Level Two study of urban design, urban management, social research methods and the distinctiveness of place is enhanced by the experience of field research in a European city. Students taking this module will consider various topics, such as the impact of planning policy, urban ethnicity and social segregation, housing developments, or issues in the use of public space, through field investigation. These projects will involve the use of a range of qualitative and quantitative research skills and techniques, as well as interpretative methods. The course will require students to undertake designated field excursions to contrasting districts, landmark sites, museums, galleries and key archives.20 credits
- Professional Skills Development (L2)
This module seeks to deliver a range of employability skills through a series of sessions over the academic year, tailored to each student cohort. The module combines careers eventsplacement preparation lectures and workshops and is designed as an opportunity for all undergraduate students in Urban Studies and Planning to improve their student experience through enhanced employabilityskills 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 make effective application and succeed in the workplace.
- Design and Development Project
The course explores the interrelationship between planning, design and development profitability. It considers the property market, property developers and the property development process. It also provides an introduction to the physical dimension of planning and to urban design. It considers the design process and proposals for the improvement of urban space; and factors that affect development profitability and the techniques used by developers to decide whether to pursue particular schemes. The course therefore includes coverage of: market analysis, development appraisal, development finance, the design process, the use of urban space and infrastructure design.20 credits
- Profit, Planning and Context
The module explores the relationship between the activities of profit-seeking business, the use and development of land and the planning activity. It provides an elementary introduction to the economics of land and property development and explores how these pressures interact with lifestyle choices to shape the use of land and property and the implication for public planning. The first part provides a brief introduction to measuring the performance of businesses and investments. The remainder of the module looks at the use of land and property for housing, retail, leisure, employment and transport uses in `urban¿ contexts20 credits
- Spatial Analysis
The aims of the module are to provide students with a broad introduction to the basic concepts of GIS and how they can be used for the spatial analysis of a wide range of data for planning purposes. The assessments will (a) test students' individual understanding of key concepts and their ability to think about the potentials and limitations of using spatial analysis to solve planning related problems; and (b) assess students' skills in the practical application of GIS and spatial analysis to a contemporary planning-related problem.20 credits
- Urban Design and Place-Making
This module provides grounding in the theory and practice of urban design, focusing particularly on conceptual and practical issues in place-making. The module is arranged in three parts: (i) environmental issues in site planning, including energy, infrastructure, site servicing and sustainability; (ii) urban design theory and the relationship between architecture and urban design; (iii) local planning, including site planning, housing, commercial development and conservation.20 credits
- Urban Theory
The aims are (i) to develop knowledge and understanding of contemporary and historical urban theories and politics, (ii) to enhance critical thinking about urban issues and policy, (iii) to expand awareness of the assumptions, values and ideas underlying current theories and policies for cities, (iv) to engender awareness and critical thinking regarding equal opportunities (v) to develop knowledge regarding uban governance, urban economic change and contemporary urban social problems. The course is in two parts: Part 1 focuses on the development of urban theory, drawing on explanations of urban growth and change from the 19th C to the present; Part 2 considers the contemporary city economy, urban politics, urban social problems and equal opportunities issues.20 credits
This module allows students to develop and manage an individual research project that investigates an agreed topic of interest related to Urban Studies and/or Planning. The module aims to develop students¿ knowledge of research methods; skills in identifying and scoping an appropriate research problem; and ability to design and undertake a feasible programme of research. The module will contribute to a deeper understanding of the role of research in relation to theoretical and practical dimensions of planning practice and will allow students to deepen their own knowledge in a chosen field of specialist planning concern.40 credits
- Professional Skills Development (L3)
This module seeks to deliver a range of employability skills through a series of sessions over the academic year, tailored to each student cohort. The module combines careers events, placement preparation lectures and, study skills workshopsand is designed as an opportunity for all undergraduate students in Urban Studies and Planning to improve their student experience through enhanced employabilityskills 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 make effective applications and succeed in the workplace.
- Values, Theory and Ethics in Spatial Planning
This course explores the interrelationships between theoretical debates within spatial planning and everyday practice. The aim is to provide an introduction to the theoretical debates in planning with particular focus on the values and ethical dilemmas underlying spatial planning practice in Britain. It should be noted that the planning activity provides the focus for the course but that the issues and concerns are also linked to the work of other built environment professionals.20 credits
- Transport and Infrastructure Planning
This module will provide students with an introduction to planning and policymaking in relation to the provision of transport and other types of infrastructure. The module develops students' ability to think critically about the framing of transport and infrastructure policy using an appreciation of historic developments, current practices and debates, transport and infrastructure planning examples from the UK and abroad. It will focus on how planners working at a range of spatial scales can give shape to effective transport and infrastructure strategies, which balance a range of environmental, social and economic objectives.20 credits
- Housing Policy and Governance
The aims of this Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) accredited module are to build on substantive knowledge, theory and skills about housing. Emphasis is placed on policy, practice, strategy analysis and understanding the links between housing, planning, social policies and outcomes at national, regional and local levels. The module further aims to: increase understanding of contemporary issues and debates in housing and housing policy and strategies; understand the causes and manifestations of problems, dilemmas and conflicts in housing systems and policy processes; and to develop abilities to synthesise and apply knowledge by understanding and critically assessing potential policy approaches to addressing housing problems.20 credits
- Environmental Policy and Governance
This unit aims to help students analyse environmental policy. It provides an overview of principal elements of contemporary environmental governance, and an introduction to the process of systematic policy evaluation in relation to a policy element of their choice. The module focuses on the contested and complex nature of the policy environment, and the role of the public and specific interests. Through individual investigation of a specific element of policy, students will explore the multi-level nature of environmental policy, contested and competing policy goals, and theories about how policy brings about change. Teaching involves a combination of lectures and interactive seminars.20 credits
- Philosophy, Aesthetics and Place
Place, in all its forms, has long inspired radically new thought and perception. This module will explore the work of several historical and contemporary philosophers and artists in situ -why did their work arise where it did? What difference does that place (or places) make to their thought and expression? This module will guide students through the intricate relationship between philosophy, art (across various media) and geography with emphasis on specific types of place as sites of intellectual thought and creative practice. These may range from the large scale such as nation and heimat, to the urban scale, to the intimate such as the village and even the body. Core themes will include identity, place and displacement, historical imaginary and the built environment, and creativity and social/spatial transformation.20 credits
- Decolonising Geographies
This module examines Indigenous geographies through Indigenous storytelling and film as a way to understand the need to decolonise geography. It examines how race, racism, Indigenous rights, settler colonialism, settler responsibility, white supremacy, land rights, dispossession and genocide shape geographies of place, space and landscape. Topics covered include geographies of identity, emotions, memory, racism, colonialism, gender, landscape, and visual representation. The aim of this module is to centre Indigenous narratives, voices and knowledges to understand geography differently while simultaneously critiquing the current whiteness of academic geographical discourse. Trigger warning – this module engages with potentially distressing and challenging themes of rape, murder, abuse, loss and violence.20 credits
- Development and Global Change
The aim of this module is to critically examine the development process within a global context, drawing on examples from developed and developing nations. Attention is given to the different ways in which we in the West understand 'development', and how we can reflect more critically on our position, and the power relations within this process. Drawing on debates within development geography, and other disciplines, the course is structured around three themes: the development industry, the poverty agenda and the local-global nexus. Topics covered may include: neoliberalism and state governance, humanitarian intervention, gender and empowerment, protests and social movements, corporate social responsibility, participation and empowerment, local forms of resistance, environmental action and change.20 credits
- Geographies of Democracy and Citizenship
This module explores the grounding of political geography in our everyday lives, through actions such as the outcomes of social policy interventions, experiences of inequality and injustice, and claims-making through activism and for various forms of citizenship. The module explores key debates and theories to draw out the links between geography, policy and society, and the ways in which these are manifested geographically as well as responses to these by citizens, communities, civil society and political parties. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which these interactions are played out across multiple scales and in and through particular spaces and places.20 credits
- Urban Transformations
From the industrial-era modern cities of the Global North such as Manchester and Chicago to the fragmented, sprawling mega-cities of the contemporary Global South such as Lagos and Delhi, urban theorists have sought to understand the interplay of power, everyday practice, and social, political, economic, and cultural processes that both transform and are transformed by urban space. This module draws from interdisciplinary theory and research to engage with urban transformations in both the Global North and the Global South. The module may address themes such as urbanization, infrastructure, inequality and social stratification, value, difference, and embodiment.20 credits
- Geographies of Consumption
The ways in which we buy and use stuff and services are inextricable from the shaping of both our everyday lives and of contemporary societies. From constructions of identity and models of human well-being to issues of social equality and environmental sustainability, debates around consumption illuminate critical perspectives on contemporary societies and cultures. This module explores key contemporary geographical perspectives on consumption, linking critical insights and theoretical perspectives to our own practices and experiences.20 credits
- The Value of Sociology
This module builds on the subject-specific knowledge and skills that students have acquired at levels 1 and 2. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on both the value of Sociology as a discipline and the value of their degree programme overall. A critical assessment of the state of the discipline will be explored through a series of lectures delivered by a range of lecturers, leading to a series of workshop-type seminars in which students will reflect on the usefulness of what they have learned during their degree and how to communicate this to an external audience. Students will develop enterprise skills within the context of the discipline they are studying and enhance their understanding of the inter-connection between Sociology, the skills they have developed and their application in the wider world.20 credits
- Whiteness, Power and Privilege
This unit explores the importance of studying whiteness in order to understand racism as a system of power relationships. It explains why the construction of whiteness has become a key focus in debates about race and ethnicity and examines critically some of the key themes to emerge in this field of study. This includes exploring the historical origins of `white studies' and assessing representations of whiteness in literary and visual culture. It also includes exploring the racialised, classed and gendered boundaries of whiteness by examining, for example, the socially and politically constructed categories of `white trash' and the `chav'.20 credits
- Protest, Movements and Social Change
The unit is an introduction to the study of the ways in which protest and social movements drive social change. The unit will take an historical overview, tracing the development of theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of social movements, matched with historical and contemporary case studies of movements from around the world. By focusing on what function movements play in society, as well as how they have been studied, students will be equipped with the tools to both analyse movements, and engage with sociological debates surrounding larger questions of inequality, identity, democracy and social justice.20 credits
- Perspectives on inequalities
This module is co-taught with local agency, community and family members. It asks students to think about the everyday experiences of inequality. It explores some of the core theoretical frameworks for interrogating inequality, and then explores everyday reality to apply the theories and concepts. The involvement of practitioners, community members and families means that the module is interactive and requires full attendance, in order to ensure a respectful experience for external contributors.20 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.
Learning and assessment
As a top UK planning school, we are acclaimed internationally for the quality of our research-led teaching. 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.
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.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible
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
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 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
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.
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
No 1 in the north for graduate employment
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Research Excellence Framework 2014
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020
The Complete University Guide 2020
National Student Survey 2020
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.
Fees and funding
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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