Frequently asked questions

Answers to some of the most common questions that prospective students ask.

Two students talking in classroom

It's not an exhaustive list, so if you still have questions please email

How many places do you have on your course?

There is no pre-determined intake for our courses. The final numbers on the course will be a result of a combination of factors, including applicants' exam results and the capacity of the department and the University - bearing in mind our commitment to quality teaching and maintaining a high staff-student ratio.

As a rough guide, we normally admit around 60 students to our Urban Studies and Urban Studies and Planning courses combined. However, this changes every year for the reasons above. 

What happens if I do not achieve the grades I expect to? 

First, don't panic! Second, get in touch with our Admissions Tutor, who will be able to advise further.  

It is sometimes the case that we can confirm places when an applicant only slightly misses out from meeting the conditions of their offer.  

Equivalent grades can sometimes be taken into account (although this is at the University's discretion and cannot be guaranteed).  

Visit our admission requirements page for more guidance. 

I am concerned that I will not do well in my school exams because my studies have been disrupted.

We take circumstances where applicants ' studies have been disrupted into account.  

The earlier you can inform us about your own personal circumstances, the better. Our disrupted studies page has full guidance. 

How many contact hours are there on the course?

This varies depending on optional modules chosen by students. Some modules emphasise structured contact time while others emphasise individual study.  

In general, each semester involves around 600 hours of 'effort time', which comprises a range of teaching and assessment methods.  

We place a lot of importance on small group teaching, such as seminars, and in students working individually and with their peers on defined projects.  

In addition to structured lectures on a one-to-one basis: we operate an 'open door' policy. Unlike some other institutions, all of our lectures and professors are actively involved in teaching. 

 Student experiences

Older map of Sheffield

My degree built the foundations to a career in urban planning

Mark Leitner-Murphy MPlan Urban Studies and Planning

MPlan graduate Mark's degree gave him the option to train in a professionally recognised discipline while maintaining an academic focus. He talks about how nothing really compared to Sheffield.

What is the difference between BA Geography and Planning and BA Urban Studies?

Geography and Planning BA is a dual degree where 50% of the degree is taken in the Geography Department and 50% in our department. Both have a wide choice of modules available.  

Urban Studies BA is aimed at students who have an interest in planning and urban studies issues but who do not necessarily want to become planners. 

The dual degree with Geography is mainly aimed at students who are keen to continue their studies in Human Geography (usually based on what they have done at High School).  

Is MPlan Urban Studies and Planning a similar course to Urban Studies BA? What is the advantage of taking a four year course? 

Urban Studies MPlan and Urban Studies BA degrees can be identical for the first three years, although the BA Urban Studies degree has a lot more choice, so students can take modules from outside of the department if they wish.  

If students do not wish to take these option modules outside the department then the two degrees are similar.

The advantage of MPlan is that it provides the student with accreditation from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which is useful for gaining employment and professional status.  

As a student you can swap between the two, so if you are unsure about which one to choose you can change up until year two. 

How important is my personal statement on my UCAS application?

It's very important. We read every personal statement and use it to take a rounded view of all our applicants.

In particular, if you are able to use your personal statement to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to planning - by describing a planning issue local to you that has captured your imagination, or by recounting a period of work experience - this will stand in your favour. 

I am worried I won't get the help I need. Do you operate a system of 'office hours'?

We do better than that. While some planning schools only allow students to consult their lecturers during defined office hours (sometimes only one hour per week), our students are encouraged to meet their lecturers at any time to discuss any issues they may be facing with their studies. 

What if I've taken a break from formal education but have now decided to pursue a career in planning?

We also offer degrees in Urban Studies and Urban Studies and Planning with a foundation year.

These are specially designed for mature learners who have been out of formal education for an extended period of time, or who does not have the standard academic qualifications needed to enter directly into the first year of degree level study.

Visit our degrees with a foundation year page for more information. 

 Student experiences 

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