My course taught me the complexities of planning

Student Alice May wearing cap and gown at graduation
Alice May
Assistant Planner, Indigo Planning
Urban and Regional Planning MSc
Alice graduated with an MSc in Urban and Regional Planning.

What did you enjoy about your MSc? 

For me, the best aspect of the course has been gaining an understanding of the theoretical background behind the day to day practice of planning.

I had a good grasp of the day to day processes by which planning works as a result of my previous work experience, but it was really beneficial to understand the historical evolution of the planning system and get to grips with why we do the things we do to control the development of our built environment.

Each of the modules was challenging in different ways, and used a number of different learning techniques in the delivery of that particular aspect of the course which kept it interesting and fun.

A personal favourite was the ‘simulation exercise’ which we undertook in the autumn term, which consisted of a mock-up planning inquiry, with different members of the course forming the planners, developers and the community group.

As the ‘planners’ we had to put together a strong case as to why the decision should be upheld. The fact that the appeal was dismissed and the planners won I’m sure had nothing to do with how much we enjoyed it.

I also particularly enjoying researching and carrying out my dissertation during the summer term; it was extremely demanding at times but the satisfaction at the end of it was huge.


At Assistant Planner level much of my work is research based, but I have been involved in and taken responsibility for a number of different projects including smaller change of use applications for a range of uses, certificates of lawful development, advertisement applications and a range of larger applications.

Alice May

Urban and Regional Planning MSc graduate


Why did you choose to study in Sheffield?

I had completed my undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Sheffield and had such a brilliant time and good experiences I was reluctant to leave.

Fortunately when I started looking into different courses, Sheffield was the number one Town and Regional Planning School in the UK, as well as it being one of the longest established planning schools so it made sense to stay in Sheffield and apply for the MSc course.

Tell us a little bit about your current job.

I’m currently working at Indigo Planning which is a large planning consultancy based in London.

At Assistant Planner level much of my work is research based, but I have been involved in and taken responsibility for a number of different projects including smaller change of use applications for a range of uses, certificates of lawful development, advertisement applications and a range of larger applications.

Additionally I have also assisted on large residential applications, a number of retail developments and other major planning applications.

I have also helped to provide planning advice and strategy advice for a number of clients relating to a number of sites. Currently, I am working on a large CPO Inquiry which is really interesting.

Did your degree help you with what you are doing now?

Undoubtedly - I now have a firm understanding of the theoretical background behind the planning system we have in place today which puts me in a confident position to talk about the complexities in the planning and property industry, and apply them to everyday situations which is essential in my job.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I hope that within the next two years I will have completed my Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) in order to become a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and a chartered planner.

I also hope to continue to work on a variety of challenging and interesting projects, finding innovative solutions to complicated problems, with a view to specialising in a narrower area of planning when I’ve gained a broader appreciation of the range of specialist areas within planning.

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