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Planning, Policy and Practice (MA)

Course Description

We have been running professionally accredited planning education courses at LSBU successfully for over 40 years.

This MA is aimed at graduates from a variety of disciplines who are looking to pursue a worthwhile and challenging course that can lead to an exciting and stable career in spatial planning and related fields.

The course includes a compulsory one week residential European field study visit. For all new entrants, field study visit fees are included in the tuition fees.

The course director Michael Leary is the co-editor (with Dr John McCarthy) of a major internationally-orientated book 'The Routledge Companion to Urban Regeneration' (2013).

See the website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/courses/course-finder/planning-policy-practice-ma


Year 1:
- Planning history and theory
This module examines the history of planning and the evolution of the theories and ideas that have underpinned the various attempts to intervene in the natural and built environment through the institution of state-led planning systems. It stresses the concept of theory as understanding, the interlinked nature of history and theory and the importance for the development of planning practice.

- Planning law and practice
This module deals in depth with the legal framework for planning control and development of land in England and Wales. The module aims to provide students with a detailed knowledge and understanding of relevant legislation and case law relating to spatial planning and with the skills to find and interpret the law and apply it in practice. The module also aims to develop students' understanding of key issues for planners in the decision-making process: the interrelationship of law with policy implementation and practice, the nature and extent of decision-makers' accountability.

- Sustainable places (with EU field study visit)
This module examines sustainability issues and challenges and the initiatives and responses from spatial planning and related agencies, institutions and organisations in the context of a European field study visit. The module aims to provide students with a detailed knowledge and understanding of the different forces at work within a region or city context. It will develop the students' understanding of sustainability issues and the impact of climate change; recognise the processes of change and identify issues and mechanisms that allow an area to develop to fulfil its potential as well as respond to environmental and related challenges.

- Development and regeneration
This module provides an advanced introduction to urban regeneration and development. The focus will be on understanding the nature of development, the economic and social drivers, financial appraisal of schemes and the development process. The reasons for, and nature of, urban regeneration interventions will be critically examined, exploring both property-led and community-led schemes and the links between property development and social/community benefits derived from planning gain.

- Urban design - the heart of planning
The module will focus on the future of an area of London that has undergone radical change in recent years and is the subject of complex and intense pressures for development. The area will have a number of constraints such as being in a Conservation Area and including listed buildings and part of the work will be to assess the balance to be struck between the parts that are of historic value, the parts that are to change and the form of new development, in an area that is complex culturally, socially and economically. The underlying theme to the module is the belief that planners must be able to visualise possible futures for sites in such a way that is positive.

- Dissertation (For MA award)
On this module you'll engage with a substantial piece of research and writing which is self-initiated and supported by a specified academic supervisor. This is a double-weighted module that runs over two semesters and is an intensive piece of student-devised learning which normally includes empirical research. You'll choose your own research topic, which must be in the field of your chosen specialism. You can expect this to be a most rewarding experience and the academic high-point of your degree.

One specialist module from:
- Neighbourhood management and renewal
You'll develop an understanding of the process of neighbourhood change, particularly in relation to housing and renewal, and will critically analyse and evaluate practice, with particular reference to current policy debates and innovations in Neighbourhood Management. The module includes an overnight field trip to an urban area outside of London and the South East, either Liverpool or Newcastle.

- Housing and urban development (housing specialism)
This module provides students with an understanding of the process of residential property development within the context of social housing provision, and public/private partnerships. It examines how the built environment is shaped in relation to a changing social, economic, and policy context. The module offers a framework for evaluating the outcomes of particular approaches to property development. You'll gain knowledge of responses to housing needs that involve new residential development and urban renewal programmes, partnership schemes, social developer land assembly processes, development appraisal techniques, risk assessment, bidding for social housing finance, planning systems, procurement methods, community involvement techniques, and estate regeneration.

- Urban design project (urban design specialism)
This project based module provides you with the opportunity to extend and develop your urban design skills in a practical context in relation to the planning process and the urban context for design. You'll also review theories and approaches to urban design in the context of real projects and places in use as well as your own work. Whenever possible the module will be linked to 'live' projects and areas and cases of current interest.

- Urban regeneration strategies and projects (urban regeneration specialism)
The module focuses on contemporary regeneration practice, which in recent years has taken place within an increasingly competitive context including declining public finance. This will be explored in the context of a specific 'major' project and the regeneration strategy that provides a framework for development in the wider area.

- Environment and resource management
You'll focus on a number of key themes in the context of environmental management and planning, and explore them in the context of current policy, law and practice. You'll also be introduced to environmental assessment, sustainability appraisal and environmental management techniques and processes.

- Transport, society and planning (environment specialism)

Part-time mode is taught one-day-per-week, with one or two modules being taught in each semester; plus the dissertation being completed by the end of January in the third year.


Modules are assessed by a range of coursework including: essays, professional reports, design and practice based projects seen exams, presentations and a dissertation.


Currently there is a national shortage of qualified town and environmental planners in the UK so the demand for our postgraduate courses is particularly high.

Employment prospects are excellent especially in London and the South East of England. Successful planning students may find jobs in central government, local government, non-governmental organisations, housing associations and quangos. Given our extensive links with public, private and voluntary sector employers we often find that employers often approach us first seeking suitably qualified and motivated applicants.

A significant proportion of our graduates are employed by public sector bodies and private consultancies in planning, property, utilities companies, the transport sector, and in the property sections of large PLCs, such as the major retailers.

LSBU Employability Services

LSBU is committed to supporting you develop your employability and succeed in getting a job after you have graduated. Your qualification will certainly help, but in a competitive market you also need to work on your employability, and on your career search. Our Employability Service will support you in developing your skills, finding a job, interview techniques, work experience or an internship, and will help you assess what you need to do to get the job you want at the end of your course. LSBU offers a comprehensive Employability Service, with a range of initiatives to complement your studies, including:

- direct engagement from employers who come in to interview and talk to students
- Job Shop and on-campus recruitment agencies to help your job search
- mentoring and work shadowing schemes. The MA is fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute. This means that after graduation you can become licentiate members of the RTPI. With two years relevant work experience (in some cases one year) graduates can apply to take the RTPI Assessment of Professional Competence exam and become full members of the RTPI.

We have extensive links with planning and private sectors with visiting speakers delivering presentations at LSBU and during field study visits and project visits. Practitioners also provide valuable inputs through a short lecture series.

Recent guest lecturers:
- David Waterhouse, Department of Communities and Local Government;
- Brian O'Callaghan, Royal Town Planning Institute;
- Micheal Pyner, Shoreditch Trust;
- Matthew Townend St James Homes;
- Catherine Croft 20th Century Society:
- Jon Grantham, Land Use Consultants.

With 23,000 members the Royal Town Planning Institute is the the largest planning institute for spatial, sustainable and inclusive planning in Europe. 2014 marks its centenary.

Visit the Planning, Policy and Practice (MA) page on the London South Bank University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A large proportion of applicants have a geography or social science first degree (minimum 2:2/Bachelor degree equivalent to UK Second Class Honours Lower Division). But in line with Royal Town Planning Institute policy we will consider candidates from a broad range of first degree disciplinary backgrounds in the arts, humanities and sciences.

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