- Full-time, Part-time, Distance learning
- Course type
- Edinburgh, Online
- Entry date
Our Urban and Regional Planning degree is designed to equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to work as a professional planner.
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Planning guides the future development and use of land. It is about where development should happen, where it should not and how it affects the quality of our surroundings. Urban and regional planning strives to design and deliver equitable, inclusive and sustainable communities where people can live, work and enjoy their leisure time. This involves promoting and facilitating development while
protecting and enhancing the natural and built environment.
Our Urban and Regional Planning degree is designed to equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to work as a professional planner. You will develop the ability to ask the right questions and find creative solutions to the challenges facing communities and the built environment.
Flexible study options
This course 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.
|Mode of study||Duration||Start date|
|Independent Distance Learning (IDL)||2-7 years*||January/September|
*On average, our Diploma courses studied via IDL are completed in 2-3 years, while the MSc is completed in 2.5-7 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via IDL within 2-3 years.
This course equips you with the knowledge and skills to work as a professional planner. Our strong links to practitioners and employers are a vital part of developing these skills as well as your network of connections.
Students have the opportunity to engage with industry through guest lecturers, site visits and on research and coursework projects:
- All students are given the opportunity to have an external mentor who is a local practitioner that provides career guidance and advice.
- Previous companies who have provided guest lecturers include:
- Students are given the opportunity to go on a tour of Scotland’s central belt visiting Bo’ness, Helix Park and Stirling. Industry experts attend the tour and share their wealth of knowledge and expertise.
- Staff and lecturers are actively engaged in a variety of research projects relating to building design, specification, management and operation and have extension knowledge to share.
This course is delivered by the Royal Academy of Engineering Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design. One of only four Centres established at UK universities and the only one in Scotland, forming a national network to demonstrate and exchange best practice in teaching and research for the sustainable built environment.
Our students and graduates
6 months after graduation in 2016, 100% of students surveyed from MSc Urban and Regional Planning have secured graduate level jobs across the UK, German and Nigeria.
Hear from some of our graduates:
This course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute which offers excellence links with local employers through their Partnership Board.
Course contentDetailed course guide
Programme lead: Dr Chris McWilliams
Semester 1: September – December, 3 mandatory modules and one optional module
Semester 2: January – April, 4 mandatory modules and site trip
Semester 3: May – August, Dissertation (MSc students only)
Students are assessed through a combination of examination and coursework:
|Semester 1||Semester 2|
|Optional modules (students will choose one):
This module introduces concepts of spatial planning at different spatial scales and reflection on the implementation and impact of planning policies.
Sustainable Design and Development
This module 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 to gain professional knowledge about urban design principles and practice, including sustainability issues.
This module offers critical exploration of the key intellectual debates about planning theory and practice.
Urban Design for Health and Wellbeing
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the range of social, economic and environmental issues that need to be considered by urban design in order to provide the basis for health and wellbeing. The course addresses issues which build an understanding of what constitutes health in urban environments and what urban design processes and approaches contribute to providing the conditions for health and wellbeing. It covers a range of issues related to socio-economic, community, psychological and physical health.
Delivered through a series of two-week long sessions presenting key fundamental principles and examples of these issues, delivered by experts in each field illustrated with examples.
Technical Networks and Urban Resilience
Students will develop a critical understanding of the governance of urban technical networks (water, energy, waste, transport, information) and their social, spatial and environmental impacts.
Climate Change, Sustainability and Adaptation
This module will introduce students to issues relating to climate science and future predictions, in addition to legislative requirements and government initiatives to combat climate change. The concepts of carbon, energy and water footprints, environmental impact analyses will be explored, and interests surrounding energy and carbon mitigation, and current thinking in adaptation strategies will also be covered. The use of case studies and/or site visits will be used throughout the course to demonstrate principles and current practice.
UK and International Housing Policy
This module is intended to allow students to develop a broad understanding of and ability to analyse the way that the contemporary housing systems operate both in the UK and internationally.
Real Estate Economics
This module 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.
Strategic Spatial Vision Project
This module 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.
Governance, Participation and Community Planning
This module 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.
This module provides students with an understanding of environmental management within planning systems both in the UK and internationally, within a context of climate change and improving the environmental and social sustainability of cities.
Part of the Environmental Planning module, students are given the opportunity to explore numerous locations around Scotland’s Central belt and hear from industry experts The one day trip consists of various stops investigating the environmental planning and impacts on wildlife, quality greenspace and social sustainability and housing. The class are taken on a tour visiting the following locations:
- Kinneil, Bo’ness in the southern shore of the Forth Estuary, part of the Central Scotland Green Network
- The Helix, home of the Kelpies
- Raploch, Stirling
Example of industry experts who you will hear from on the tour:
- Policer Officer from Scottish Natural Heritage
- Planning Officer from Falkirk Council
- Director of the Forth Housing Association
Read more about the tour in our Storify
This course introduces a range of ways of thinking about sustainability and equity spatially and across economies.
Students are assessed through a combination of examination and coursework.
PG Diploma students may choose to transfer to the MSc if they meet the following progression standards: average mark of 50% or higher and no course marks below 40%.
Additional programme information
Students are expected to develop through their coursework and dissertation in depth knowledge in one of the following specialisms:
- Environmental policy and management
- Urban Design
- Land and property markets
The course also places importance on the preparation of a personal development plan (PDP) which links the learning experience to wider skills and employability of each student. The PDP is as an integral part of the course.
Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have:
- Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a related subject area.
- For postgraduate conversion programmes, non-related degrees will be considered.
Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.
PG Diploma level entry applicants must have:
- Degree in a related subject area plus a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience post qualification.
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.
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 modules within a course based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the modules 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 email@example.com, 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 courses 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. 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.
Distance learning students can choose to start their studies in January or September. The January intake is not available to students studying on-campus.
Fees & funding
|Scotland / Non-UK EU||£5200||£2600||£1185**|
|England / Northern Ireland / Wales||£5200||£2600||£1185**|
* 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 course consists of 8 modules with MSc students also required to submit a Masters dissertation.
For questions about IDL fees, please contact our Distance Learning Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.