MA Planning and Development: Graduate Profiles

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Emily Ball graduated with an MA in Real Estate Planning and Development * Emily is returning to the department to conduct a PhD. 

*formerly MA Planning and Development

What did you enjoy about your MA?

The main reason I enjoyed the MA was due to the diversity of the course- academically AND practically; giving me the opportunity to expand my knowledge in a wide range of planning and development themes. The course included a wealth of modules including property economics, planning law, issues in housing, valuation and ethics in planning and development- all knowledge and skills which can be applied in future employment. Most importantly, the course allowed the opportunity for me to follow the strands of planning and development I was most interested in- and for this reason, the most rewarding part of my MA was my dissertation. This gave me the opportunity to be creative and have the freedom to challenge gaps in research that needed to be explored. It was reassuring that the department staff were always helpful and supportive and encouraged new avenues of research enquiry that arose through the duration of the course and reaffirmed my passion for research into housing and regeneration.

Why did you decide to take the MA you did?

I studied geography at undergraduate level where I was fascinated by how places shaped social relations, which in turn could create place and our attachment to them. I wanted to actively apply my knowledge accumulated from my degree to make places ‘better’- which is an ethos that the Department emphasizes in its teaching. I was particularly interested in regeneration and housing which I knew through studying an MA in Planning and Development, would be the first step in starting to make a difference to how urban and rural settlements are planned and created.

Why did you choose The University of Sheffield to study?

I did my undergraduate degree at Sheffield and there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to carry on studying in the city- it was also an added bonus that Sheffield is the top planning school in the UK and so the best place to study Planning and Development. Sheffield is definitely a city with a heart- and a community, and this was important for me to feel settled in order to excel on the course. The University facilities are also brilliant with (online) library resources, 1000’s of campus computers and access to information services in the students union. In relation to planning and development, Sheffield is a brilliant place for applied research. Sheffield is both an urban hub (for regeneration research/ commercial property analysis) and also is within easy reach of the Peak District/rural markets- which is where my dissertation research took place. I was able to explore the social impacts of the restricted rural housing market and as a result of planning restrictions from an environmental impetus.

Do you think the MA has set you up with the skills to move into employment?

The MA is designed and geared towards setting students up with the necessary academic, practical and transferable skills to enjoy a career in surveying, research or any other related industry. Due to the economic climate and the subsequent employment situation, it is now more important than ever that students can market themselves as holding the right academic qualifications, practical work experience and research abilities- all of which the Department’s MAs can offer in order to give students a substantial edge on everybody else. There is also a trip to London which is extremely useful not only in the context of the module assessment, but provides an opportunity for students to get advice and tips off employed graduates and company directors for assessment days, interviews and graduate scheme applications. Modules are based on applying the skills learnt during the course into real-life case studies of Sheffield (for example valuations of buildings in the Cultural Industries Quarter) which are useful references to show practical planning and development skills in interviews and applications.

How do you feel getting a distinction!?

I feel very proud to have been awarded the MA with Distinction. However I also feel very proud of my course friends who all worked hard and have done extremely well- with many of them getting jobs in the property industry (and embarking on their APC) before, or within a few weeks of getting our results. The MA is hard work but having the support of course friends (and the occasional Bar One break!) has made it a year that I am sure we will all look back with amazing memories.

What are your ambitions for the future?

It is an exciting time for me at the moment. I am currently working in an environmental research consultancy where on behalf of the government body ATLAS (Advisory Team for Large Applications). I find out how well ATLAS officers have brought complex large scale development projects through the town planning system. I interview planners, developers and landowners, council members and community groups who are involved in developing major development sites across the country. I am also applying to do a PhD within the Department which will be an extension of my MA dissertation ‘Investigating the relationship between gender and affordable housing in the Peak District National Park.’ Undertaking the course has made me realise my passion for research in the field of planning and development which I will carry on with to add to academic enquiry and encourage others to use their knowledge and experience to create ‘better’ places.

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