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​introduction to planning

Sutton Harbour Plymouth 300.jpgPlymouth’s MSc Planning programme will equip you to pursue a professional career in planning. As the UK’s newest planning school, the programme has been designed to offer a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the factors influencing the formulation and delivery of spatial planning policy across the built and natural environments.

The course places emphasis on the skills required by planners in a rapidly changing world. The programme has been developed to be taken either full-time over one year or part-time over two years.



  • Lustleigh view from W rural planning.jpgFully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute.
  • The distinctive content of the Plymouth programme is its specialist focus on urban coastal, marine planning, rural planning and sustainable transport issues.
  • Multidisciplinary approach with an emphasis on delivering the sustainable development agenda.
  • Emphasis on applied and experiential learning through fieldwork, practicals, case studies, role play, debates and contact with professional practitioners.
  • Supportive learning environment with an emphasis on small-group teaching and ample staff-student interaction.
  • Vibrant city centre campus with good rail and local transport connections and an excellent coastal location.

Professional accreditation

This course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
 RTPI logo


​key features

  • Focus on planning issues of particular significance to south west England, but set within the context of national and international experience.
  • Broad-based, multidisciplinary and cross-professional approach to place making and the planning and management of the built and physical environment for sustainable development.
  • Promotes key skills and professionalism to prepare individuals for an effective contribution to the workplace, lifelong learning and preparation for the RTPI’s Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).


The combination of theory and practice is reflected in the leadership of the course:
Professor Chris Balch is a Chartered Town Planner and Chartered Surveyor with extensive experience as a consultant in urban planning, regeneration and development both in the UK and overseas.  He has advised on a wide range of policies and programmes and has developed strategies and plans for the transformation of underperforming places, including work in major cities, such as Leeds and Bristol, as well as market and coastal towns.  He has worked on the planning and funding of major projects such as the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the Lowry arts complex in Salford. He has managed major professional practices and was Chair of Basildon Renaissance Partnership.
Dr Stephen Essex is Reader in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and highly experienced researcher in the field of urban and rural planning.  His research has included the formulation and effectiveness of rural planning, the planning and implementation of major infrastructure (such as the Olympic Games), and the role of local authorities in tourism planning and sustainable tourism. He has also researched the implementation of post-war reconstruction.
Other members of the programme team include expert staff from the Schools of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Architecture, Marine Sciences and Engineering. In addition, the programme draws on a network of professionals from public, private and voluntary sectors.

SSTAR  Awards 2011

SSTAR Award logoThe UPSU SSTAR Awards have been organised by students with the support of the Students' Union to reward the many excellent university staff members and dedicated course reps we have here at Plymouth University.
The 2011 Student Union SSTAR Awards saw a large number of Faculty academic staff nominated for an award.
Dr Stephen Essex – Nominated Most Dedicated Project Supervisor SSTAR Awards 2011
Professor Mark Brayshay – Nominated Most Innovative Use of Teaching Methods SSTAR Awards 2011 and Highly Commended Most Inspirational Teaching SSTAR Awards 2011