Geography and Planning BA

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UCAS code: LK74
Duration: 3 years


The Geography and Planning course offers you the opportunity to combine interests in human geography and planning. It's taught jointly with the Department of Geography which also has a rating of excellence for its teaching and research with both departments sharing a purpose built building.

This degree is designed for you. You can adjust it's structure and the modules are a selected combination of geographic and town planning topics, which offer complementary insights into the processes, policies and practices operating within urban and rural areas. You'll find it incredibly flexible, with structure of the course offering considerable scope to select modules of your choice and the ability to specialise in particular areas. Over one third of the modules for the course are chosen by you from the list on offer.

Our housing modules are also accredited by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).

Our campus and how we use it

We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.


Each year you will take 120 credits, including all core modules. Modules are assessed by a variety of methods, which include coursework, project work and exams.

Level one

In the first year you'll establish the foundations of your knowledge of geography and planning.

Core modules currently include:

Autumn Semester

The Making of Urban Places

You will be introduced to the history of urbanisation and the development of systems of town planning. The first part of the module covers the history of urbanisation from the very first settlements to the present day. Though much of this part focuses on urban development in Europe, it also covers American urbanisation and the problems of urbanisation in the developing world. The second part of the module deals with the emergence of measures to regulate urban development from the middle ages to the 20th century. It ends with the passing of the 1947 Town & Country Planning Act.

Information and Communication Skills

You will develop the skills needed to be able to find, summarise and critically evaluate information. These 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.

Spring Semester

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.

Full academic year

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.

As well as optional modules from this group:

  • Living with Environmental Change
  • New Horizons in Geography
  • The Environmental Challenge
  • Economics for Spatial Planning
  • Urban Analytics
  • Cities
  • Housing, Home and Neighbourhood
  • Planning Project

And 20 credits of unrestricted modules, subject to departmental approval.

Level two

In the second year you will develop a sound understanding of economic, social and political geography along with the planning policies and market processes that shape change in our towns and countryside. You will begin to specialise in specific areas.

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.

Students will take two modules from this group:

Political Geographies

The module introduces students to contemporary debates within political geography. Political processes are discussed at a variety of spatial scales, from international politics, through national politics, local and community politics and individual political behaviour. Questions of power, efficacy and conflict are examined at all these scales. Particular emphasis is given to spatial and place-specific aspects of politics. Among the issues normally discussed in the module are: geopolitics and international relations; the state and territoriality; the politics of nationalism and citizenship; welfare regimes and the geography of public policy; civic activism; and individual political participation.

Environment, Society and Politics

Environmental issues continue to be a key area of contemporary public concern and current political debate. They raise fundamental questions about the relationship between society and environment, and the politics of that relationship. This module provides a geographical introduction to these issues and debates with examples from a range of scales from the global to the local. After a review of key concepts, the module is developed through inter-related sections covering debates through different empirical themes.

Geographies of Development

Development in the Global South is a major issue of international concern in the 21st century. This module explores contemporary development issues and examines the contribution that geographers, and geographical thought, can make towards understanding inequality, poverty and socio-economic change. Definitions of 'development', 'poverty' and 'the poor' shift and are invested with political meaning which reflect specific geographies and ways of seeing the world: students develop critical understandings of such terminology and the power dynamics implicit within them. This module addresses diverse theories, paradigms and contemporary critiques of development, and explores some of the central issues affecting processes of development. Case examples are drawn from Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia.

Students will take two modules from this group:

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.

European Urban Field Class

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.

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.

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' contexts.

Urban Theory

This module aims to develop students' imaginative engagement with the nature of urban life and human settlement. Urban Theory introduces a range of ideas and key concepts in urban studies with a view to understanding how cities have developed and how they 'work' in broad terms. The module considers a range of thinkers, ideas and problematics and asks how issues of power, economy, society and problems are generated and shaped by cities.

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.

And students will take 40 credits of unrestricted Geography or Urban Studies and Planning modules, subject to departmental approval.

Level three

Credits in the third year are almost entirely open to choice and you will develop your own research project.

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.


This module allows students to develop and manage an individual research project that investigates an agreed topic of interest related to Geography 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.

Students will then taken 80 credits of Geography and Urban Studies and Planning modules, subject to departmental approval.

Learning and Assessment

The central course pages contain figures which give an indication of how you'll learn and be assessed.

The example course structure listed above is based on the 2018-19 academic year and may be subject to change in future years.

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.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We do not specify that your qualifications must be in particular subjects for entry to our courses. What is more important is that you show a genuine interest in planning in your application. However social science subjects, such as geography, politics, economics, psychology, etc, are ideal. We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry, including overseas qualifications.

We treat each application on its own merits and the below are not blanket thresholds – we look at a range of factors when deciding on an offer of a place on one of our courses. If you have any questions about your qualifications or about any other aspect of the admissions process, please contact our Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Qualification Grades
 A-Levels  ABB including Geography or another social science
A Levels + Extended Project Qualification BBC + B. The Extended Project should be in a relevant subject
International Baccalaureate 33, 6 in Higher Level Geography or another social science
BTEC DDD in a relevant subject
Cambridge Pre-U D3 M2 M2 including Geography or another social science
Scottish Highers AABBB + B in Geography or another social science
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B+AB
Access to HE

Entry requirements for mature students

Or see below for our foundation year

Other qualifications

Other UK qualifications

Other EU/international qualifications

Other requirements

  • GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C
  • International students need an overall IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or an equivalent English Language qualification
  • Equivalent English language qualifications

Geography and Planning BA with a Foundation Year

Our foundation year is designed to give mature students without standard entry qualifications the best possible preparation for success on the degree course of their choice.

More information

How to apply

How to apply

We welcome all applications to our courses, which must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). We particularly welcome applications from women, mature students, those with disabilities and from ethnic minorities. These groups are under-represented in the planning profession.

Each application is dealt with promptly when it arrives in the department. If we make you an offer we will invite you to visit the department for an Open Day to meet staff and students and to help you decide whether to accept our offer.

We have a quota of places to fill every year, so if the qualifications you achieve fall slightly short of what we have asked for, your place on the course may still be confirmed if we cannot fill our places from students who have met our offer.

Improve your application

  • Visit the University of Sheffield on University and Departmental Open Days
  • Speak to planners and other built environment professionals.
  • Look out for planning, regeneration and environmental stories in the local and national media.
  • Think about planning issues in your local area.
  • Think about your strengths with regard to our courses.

Get in touch

Contact our undergraduate admissions team.

International Pathway Programmes

Our International College provides international students with pathway programmes for progression to degree study at the University.

International Foundation Year

Study abroad

Study Abroad

Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to broaden your experience and knowledge of other countries and their planning systems. Exchange agreements enable a number of Sheffield students to spend the whole of their second academic year studying in the US, Australia, Hong Kong and Canada. Students study modules which are equivalent to those which they would take in their second year in Sheffield and the overall course content during levels 2 and 3, therefore, remains very similar.

Students do not pay any fees to the host institution and normally only pay half fees to the University of Sheffield for the year abroad. 

Study Abroad is very competitive and there are only a limited number of places available. However the centrally located International Exchanges Unit and staff within our department will do their very best to place you and support your application.

Study abroad options for students currently include:

  • Griffith University, Australia
  • Waterloo University, Canada
  • City University, Hong Kong
  • University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign, USA
  • University of Queensland, Australia


For students taking the four year MPlan there are also exchange arrangements with Denmark (Aalborg), France (Lyon) and Italy (Milan) for the spring semester of the fourth year. You do not need to be a Danish or Italian speaker to take the Denmark or Italian options, though a basic knowledge of Italian would be useful for the Milan and a working knowledge of French is required for Lyon. The University runs a range of Italian and French classes each year and it may be possible to take some of these classes as part of your degree. Funding will be available to support your travel for Erasmus exchange.

Erasmus is the European Commission's exchange programme that enables students in 33 European countries to study, work or teach for part of their degree in another country.

Erasmus is a great opportunity to spend between 3 and 12 months in another European country, and have it count towards your degree. You get to experience another culture and a new way of looking at your subject. At Sheffield we are comitted to helping you grow as an indivdual, by taking Erasmus you can start a new network of friends and collegues in different country.

The Erasmus programme is open to all undergraduates. Erasmus is open to the majority of disciplines, but opportunities will depend on the agreements our department has made and what degree programme you are on.

Careers in Geography & Planning


According to the latest DLHE survey (2016/2017), 100% of Geography and Planning graduates were in full-time employment or further study six months after graduation.

Our graduates go on to a wide range of destinations, including:

  • Local authority planning departments (development control, forward planning, urban design, heritage and conservation)
  • Private sector planning consultancies
  • Urban design consultancies
  • Transport planning
  • Regeneration
  • Regional Development Agencies
  • Pressure Groups
  • PhD study

University of Sheffield planning graduates can be found at the highest levels of planning practice. Our graduates don't just work in the UK many of our students work internationally in the planning field, we currently have graduates working for UN HABITAT and Oxfam.

The next 5-10 years will be an excellent time to be a planning graduate. Already, our graduates have a number of choices of destination, and this is likely to increase in the future.

For further information on careers in planning including information for Planners on the skills gained through their degree, what graduates do, case studies and links to vacancy websites see the University of Sheffield's Careers Service.

What our graduates say

Ben Dankin

"I really enjoy my course - I like how I can do geography and planning so you're not restricted to what you can do. It's interesting to study both sides because geographers don't see the same things as planners."

Watch Ben.