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This programme provides the foundation, knowledge and skills needed to work as a development surveyor or planner. On completion, graduates will be able to work either in the public or private sectors, advising on the complexities of property development to occupiers, investors, developers and planning authorities.
The programme is designed to build understanding of the complex interactions and uncertainties of the development process. It provides students with the essential knowledge components of economics, valuation, planning, law, and regeneration and sustainability principles. It also develops an appreciation of the skills and tasks inherent in development projects, including community participation, satisfying the statutory planning considerations, undertaking the necessary financial appraisals, and achieving funding to make it happen.
This programme is suitable for students with an interest in pursuing a career either as a chartered development surveyor or as a planner with a specialism in land and property markets. Such opportunities are available in a range of employers in the private and public sector, including local development and regeneration agencies.
With strong professional links and a focus on up-to-date industry-relevant content, our Real Estate programmes equip graduates with the knowledge and skills to quickly and effectively contribute to the success of their working environment.
On completion of this programme graduates will be able to have a comprehensive and integrated understanding of the property market context and the nature and theory of spatial planning and sustainable development. Our Real Estate and Planning graduates have gone on to work in a variety of roles in the private and public sectors, both in the UK and abroad.
We also have a proven track record in research, and a number of our graduates continue in research to complete PhD study.
Heriot-Watt’s School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society is a leading education centre for planning and surveyor professionals in the UK. The MSc has full recognition from the educational requirements of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and has professional accreditation from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Flexible study options
This programme can be studied full-time, part-time or via Independent Distance Learning (IDL), ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. As an IDL student you will not be required to attend any lectures, tutorials or other events at any of Heriot-Watt University’s campuses.
|Mode of study||Duration|
Independent Distance Learning (IDL)
*An IDL programme - whether at PgDip or MSc level - can be completed in a minimum of 2 years. On average, our PgDip programmes studied via IDL are completed in 2-3 years, while MSc programmes are completed in 2.5-7 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via IDL within 2-3 years.
The Urban Institute
This programme is delivered by The Urban Institute at Heriot-Watt University. As a Real Estate and Planning postgraduate student you will be part of the Institute’s Graduate School, connecting you with staff, research associates and fellow students engaged in cutting-edge research in areas such as affordability, housing markets and private renting; commercial property markets; urban economics; diversity and minority ethnic communities; homelessness and social exclusion; housing policy, management and governance and more.
Our graduates will be able to:
- draw on a wide perspective to offer a holistic approach to sustainable development
- be ready and eligible to undertake the Assessment of Professional Competence of both the RICS and RTPI
- demonstrate sophisticated intellectual and research skills proficient for a professional career
- evaluate complex problems and formulate solutions associated with planning and development issues
- appreciate the values, ethics, responsibilities, and rules governing professional membership of the RICS and RTPI, and the need for professional integrity when advising clients and the public
- have a respect for diversity and an appreciation of social inclusion as a goal of planning
- have an awareness of the role that values and attitudes play in managing change in the built environment
- have an interdisciplinary perspective that draws on the range of disciplines that contribute to the programme and within the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society.
Course contentDetailed course guide
This programme is composed eight core courses at PgDip level. For those looking to complete the programme at MSc level a Masters dissertation is also required. Students are assessed through a combination of coursework and examination.
|Semester 1||Semester 2|
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to help students to develop a critical understanding of: spatial planning agendas; sectoral and spatial policy frameworks at national, strategic and local levels; legal and ethical frameworks; implementation mechanisms; development management issues; relationships between land and property and planning, including development rights and property rights. The syllabus includes the following subjects:
Reasons for planning; Development Planning; Urbanisation and Urban development; Development and property rights; Development Management; Environmental Assessment; Conservation and Globalisation and urban transitions.
Sustainable Design and Development
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to help students develop a critical understanding of the complexity of urban and housing design and development, including the importance of people and process. The course will help students gain professional knowledge about urban design principles and practice, including sustainability issues. Subjects in the syllabus include:
Introduction to urban design and housing quality; Critical understanding of the development process including stages in the development process and appreciation of different stakeholder perspectives; Sustainable design, housing quality, place identity and character; Climate, aspect, safety, planting, management; Conservation areas and listed buildings; Market and needs analysis; Developer’s budget, cashflow and financial appraisal; Risk analysis.
Real Estate Appraisal and Valuation 1
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to establish the economic context for the creation of value, introduce the principles for the assessment of value in property markets, develop a clear understanding of the valuation process and appropriately apply the principal valuation methods (conventional and contemporary) to a range of property types and interests. Subjects covered by the syllabus include:
Economic context of the property market; The property professions: their role, ethical conduct and regulatory framework; Definitions of price, value and investment value (worth); Introduction to the principal techniques of property valuation; Valuation and appraisal mathematics: Present and Future Value, DCF, NPV and IRR; The valuation process; Analysis of market evidence and measurement practice.
Real Estate Economics
Semester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to introduce students to an economic analysis of real estate markets. The course will help students to understand land and property markets from an economic perspective; to examine land and property as a set of linked markets and to consider regulatory constraints on real estate in economic terms including planning. The syllabus includes:
Introduction to key topics in economics – microeconomic demand and supply analysis, Elasticities, the macroeconomy; the economics of property market analysis: use, investment and development. The institutional context. Local, regional, national and global perspectives. Real estate cycles by sector. Property versus other asset classes; Analysis of property sectors (housing, offices, retail, industrial). Spatial economic analysis; Economic basis of planning, planning in a market economy. Economic analysis of planning policy, interaction of real estate and the macroeconomy.
Strategic Spatial Vision Project
Semester 2 (mandatory)
This course aims to develop advanced understanding of, and skills in, the preparation and evaluation of spatial visions and strategies and to develop competence in the professional skills of analysis, evaluation and prescription of policy in an urban context. Subjects covered by the syllabus include:
The meaning and scope of spatial visions, including their aims and rationale; The core principles in relation to the form and content of spatial visions; The notion of the city region as a locus for spatial visions; The national and international policy context for spatial visions at city region level; The relationship between housing markets, local economies, the role of town centres, and transport and accessibility issues, with respect to spatial visions and strategies at city region level.
Governance, Participation and Community Planning
Semester 2 (mandatory)
This course aims to develop critical knowledge and understanding of contemporary governance and community planning and the advantages of user participation in the development and delivery of services.
Topics covered by the syllabus include: Contemporary governance issues; participation and planning/housing; community planning and local community engagement; service provision and stakeholder involvement.
Real Estate Investment Analysis
Semester 2 (mandatory)
This course aims to enable learners to develop an in-depth understanding of property as an investment medium and the application of investment and finance theories to both the general investment markets and the property market. The syllabus consists of the following topics:
Investment theory and the investment decision; the nature of risk and return; the characteristics of property as an investment; the role of property in the multi-asset portfolio; the application of modern portfolio theory; introduction to international real estate portfolio analysis performance monitoring; the emergence of new financial products in the property sector, and market efficiency and the cause of mis-pricing, real estate derivatives.
Real Estate Development
Semester 2 (mandatory)
This course aims to achieve an understanding of the structure and functioning of the contemporary real estate market and of the factors influencing the development decision. Subjects covered by the syllabus include:
The real estate market and the property development industry; The factors influencing the development decision; The techniques of development appraisal including cashflow techniques and risk analysis; The nature of planning agreements and their impact on development appraisal; The general form and content of real estate development and investment finance; The form and content of real estate partnerships including appraisal and financing aspects.
For MSc level entry applicants must have:
- Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in cognate and semi-cognate subject area. For PG conversion programmes, non-cognate degrees will be considered. Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.
For PG Diploma level entry applicants must have:
- Third class honours degree in a cognate or semi-cognate subject area PLUS 2 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level completed post qualification.
- Cognate or semi-cognate ordinary degree PLUS 3-4 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level following graduation.
- Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Admissions and the number of successful applicants will be restricted.
There is no entry at PG Certificate level except through exceptional agreement with approved learning partners.
Non-graduating study at masters level:
- Entry is based on CV or on formal academic qualifications or graduate (or incorporated) membership of a relevant professional institution.
Distance Learning January entry
Distance learning students can choose to start their studies in January or September. The January intake is not available to students studying on-campus.
Recognition of Prior Learning
Heriot-Watt University is committed to providing opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Prior learning at postgraduate level is normally recognised to gain exemption from individual courses within a programme based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the courses for which RPL is sought, yet credits from an award already held by an applicant can only contribute to a higher award in the same discipline, e.g. from PG Diploma to MSc. If you believe that you qualify for RPL, please contact the Learning & Teaching Support Team via firstname.lastname@example.org, who will guide you through the RPL application procedure.
The school will only consider students' requests for RPL at the time of application for their programme of study.
English language requirements
If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above.
Applicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.
We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:
- 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
- 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
- 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)
Distance learning students
Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.
Fees & funding
|Scotland / Non-UK EU||£5200||£2600||£1185 / £1690***|
|England / Northern Ireland / Wales||£5100||£2550||£1185 / £1690***|
|Overseas||£14080||£7040||£1185 / £1690***|
* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.
Additional fees information
**Students pay £1185 per course and £1690 for the Dissertation. This programme consists of 8 courses (modules). MSc students are also required to submit a Masters dissertation.
For questions about IDL fees, please contact our Distance Learning Office: email@example.com
Scholarships & bursaries
We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.
View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarships.