Geography and Urban Studies

Heriot-Watt is one of the leading UK providers of education in the fields of property development and management, spatial and town planning, housing, regeneration and urban design.

View all Geography and Urban Studies courses

We are ranked 1st in Scotland for Building and Town and Country Planning in The Guardian University League Table 2019, 1st in Scotland for Building and 2nd for Town and Country Planning in the Complete University Guide 2020, 1st in Scotland for Building and 2nd in Scotland for Town and Country Planning and Landscape in the Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. We are also ranked in the Top 10 in the UK for Planning by the National Student Survey 2017.

The challenge faced by built environment professionals today is to build more sustainable communities through development that integrates economic, social and environmental goals.

Our courses equip students with the specialist knowledge and skills needed to help create these communities and to deliver better places and spaces in which to live, work, rest and play. Our professional links with industry and government ensure that our teaching is relevant and grounded in the real world, and the cross-disciplinary learning style we use helps to build the mutual understanding between professions that graduates require for a successful career.


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Industry networks

External speakers give guest lecturers and presentations to our Urban Studies students while students also hear from and interact with industry professionals during the various field trip opportunities.

Urban Planning and Property Development year 3 students take part in a professional mentoring scheme that matches them with local practitioners. Students have the opportunity to discuss careers, job prospects, internships and professional membership.

The Urban Planning and Property Development degree is accredited by both the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for the purpose of graduate membership and by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). This is the only Scottish course to have this joint accreditation.

Graduate destinations

Graduates from our Urban Planning and Property Development course have gone on to successful careers in the public and private sectors at national and international levels. Several of our most recent graduates are now employed by major investment institutions such as Scottish Widows and Standard Life while others have secured roles in planning and property consultancies like Jones Lang LaSalle and CBRE. Whether your future lies in the private, public or voluntary sectors of planning, in property consultancy or in the land and property development industry, our Planning course will help get you there.

Our Geography courses are new and are still within the first cohort of students. As our courses cover the fundamentals in both physical and human geography they complement each other to ensure our students become flexible and creative graduates, able to apply their skills and knowledge in a range of careers.

Teaching and assessment

Learning methods include:

  • directed reading
  • lectures and seminars
  • small group tutorials
  • group projects with written, graphic and oral work, and
  • field trips, including one to Europe.

Guest practitioners contribute to teaching. Assessment is a mix of projects, essays and exams. Students in their final year will produce a research dissertation.


In Year 3 all students are given the opportunity to take part in a professional mentoring scheme which matches them with local practitioners.

Key information

Admissions Team