Hurry up! The application deadline at SHML School is approaching! Apply before June, 30

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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. 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.

This programme 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.

Part-time and Distance Learning study options

This programme can be studied on a part-time basis 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.

Industry links

The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design within the School of the Built Environment has excellent industry links. Staff within the Institute are actively engaged in a variety of research projects relating to building design, specification, management and operation.

Teaching and research excellence

The School of the Built Environment has a strong record in built environment research. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) 60% is classed ‘internationally excellent’ or better.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt is one of the UK’s leading universities, and Scotland’s most international. Find out more about Heriot-Watt University’s reputation, rankings and international profile.

This programme, led by Dr Sarah McIntosh, consists of eight mandatory courses. MSc students also complete a Masters dissertation.

Semester 1

  • Spatial Planning

  • Sustainable Design and Development

  • Planning Theories

  • Transport and Environment

Semester 2

  • Strategic Spatial Vision Project

  • Governance Participation and Community Planning

  • Environmental Planning

  • Social Sustainability

The programme has been structured around three mandatory project-based courses:

  • Sustainable Design and Development: To develop a critical understanding of the complexity of urban design principles and practice, including sustainability issues and of the development process, incorporating evaluating the financial implications of development and the factors influencing the development decision.

  • The Strategic Spatial Vision Project: develop advanced understanding of, and skills in, the preparation and evaluation of spatial visions and strategies and competence in the professional skills of analysis, evaluation and prescription of policy in an urban context.

  • Governance, Participation and Community Planning: To develop experience and understanding of community participation and engagement, and develop the soft skills of partnership working, through a practical exercise in a local community.

These projects are supported by five mandatory taught courses:

Spatial Planning

Semester 1 (mandatory)

Introduces concepts of spatial planning at different spatial scales and reflection on the implementation and impact of planning policies. Topics in the syllabus include:

Reasons for planning; Development Planning; Urbanisation and Urban development; Development and property rights; Development Management; Environmental Assessment; Conservation; Globalisation and urban transitions.

Planning Theories

Semester 1 (mandatory)

Critical exploration of the key intellectual debates about planning theory and practice. Topics in the syllabus include:

What is planning theory and what do planners do? The case for and against spatial planning; Urban form; neo-Marxism; neo-Liberalism; feminist perspectives; urban utopianism; policy implementation; the public interest; participation and (ex)inclusion; modernism; post-modernism; analysis of the natural environment and its values to society and sustainable development.

Transport and environment

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course provides students with a critical awareness of the nature and importance of transport and land use inter-relationships and the roles of urban managers in relation to these. The following topics will be covered in this course:

Transport’s contribution to climate change and to future visions of sustainability; Making the links between transport and health, social inclusion, quality of life, and economic development; Measuring the socio-economic and environmental impact of transport; Land use- transport interactions; Urban growth and infrastructure; Transport plans and strategies; Decision-making and implementation bodies; legislative frameworks, roles and responsibility; Global and EU policy policies on transport infrastructure and sustainable transport; Design and delivery of public transit and active travel modes (walking and cycling); Behavioural change policies and implementation.

Social Sustainability

Semester 2 (mandatory)

To introduce a range of ways of thinking about sustainability and equity spatially and across economies. This course includes the following topics:

Social sustainability and relationship with overall sustainable development principles; Theories of social justice, equity and social capital; Access to services; Health and health inequalities; Shelter (housing and homelessness); Ethnicity and gender; Community and place; Travel and transport; Land use mix; Synthesis of social sustainability.

Environmental Planning

Semester 2 (mandatory)

This course 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. Topics in the syllabus include:

Theories of sustainable development, including “dark green” approaches and the Brundtland paradigm; The relationship between urban development and green space: the design and management of urban green space for people and nature, ownership and use rights to open space; Urban water management: introduces the concept of hydrological unit management and river basin management plans; Pollution and risk management in the urban context: pollution as a marginal social cost; understanding of pollution pathways and the different concepts of risk associated with pollutants.

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 programme 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 therefore seen as an integral part of the programme.

The educational aims of the programme are:

Comprehensive – to develop in students from a variety of first disciplines comprehensive and integrated understanding of the context, nature and theory of spatial planning which pursues sustainable development, and of its application in practice, as well as knowledge in depth of a named planning specialism.

Professional – to educate students at postgraduate level to the point at which they are ready to undertake preparation for the Assessment of Professional Competence in planning as required by the RTPI.

Promote wider skills – to develop in students a high level of the personal qualities required to pursue a career in planning, including creativity, professionalism, the habit of lifelong learning and critical reflection, and a positive response to change the workplace, the built environment and its governance.

Inclusive – to instil a respect for diversity, an appreciation of social inclusion as a goal of planning, and an awareness of the role that values and attitudes play in managing change in the built environment.

Problem Solving– to develop an advanced ability to define research and devise solutions to planning problems.

Interdisciplinary – to take advantage of the programme’s location in an urban studies discipline which includes teaching and research strengths in estate management and development, regeneration and housing, and which lies within a wider school of the built environment in Scotland, whilst also taking advantage of the wide-ranging international experience of academic staff.

Programme leader

Sarah McIntosh is a Chartered Town Planner with extensive experience of planning projects. She is widely experienced in market appraisals, area development initiatives, housing projects, environmental assessments and in the design, implementation and analysis of interview and surveys. She lectures on urban regeneration, evaluation and appraisal techniques, the planning and development process and urban policy.

Whilst working for Planning and Economic Consultants she worked on a number of Area Development and Policy Evaluation Studies, including the evaluation of housing projects and policies and in particular, the collection and the analysis of public authority data and policies. She has previously worked in the public sector and has considerable experience of the work and procedures of Local Authorities and other public agencies.


UK requirements for international applications

Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).

Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.

All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.


Program requirements

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 entryDistance learning students can choose to start their studies in January or September. The January intake is not available to students studying on-campus.English language requirementsApplicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required. English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6.5 IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more. Technological Requirements Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.

Scholarships & bursaries

  • Alumni Scholarship Scheme
    Heriot-Watt Alumni
  • Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries
    Applicants must be Scottish by birth, have at least one parent born in Scotland or have been continuously resident in Scotland for a period of three years for the purpose of secondary or tertiary education.
  • Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
    International (Commonwealth citizens)
  • Department for International Development (DFID) Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme(SBE)
    International (Commonwealth citizens)
  • Department for International Development (DFID) Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme
    Commonwealth citizens
  • East Lothian Educational Trust
    Applicants must be a resident of the old county of East Lothian (ie excluding Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig.)
  • India Scholarship (SBE)
    Students who have applied via the Heriot-Watt India office. Please note that this award is available for study at our Edinburgh campus only.
  • Leverhulme Trade Charities Trust
    Restricted to residents of the UK who are a son, daughter, spouse, widow or widower of a commercial traveller, chemist or grocer.
  • Local Education Authority Awards
    Various
  • Mexican Scholarships
    Mexican applicants
  • Music Scholarships
    All students
  • Part-time Fee Grant (SAAS)
    See SAAS residence conditions.
  • Postgraduate Student Allowance Scheme (SAAS)
    EU and UK applicants who meet the SAAS criteria on eligible courses
  • Remission of Fees (families of staff)
    Spouses/civil partners and children of members of staff, also retired members of staff of the University
  • Royal Caledonian Schools Trust
    Applicants must be of Scots parentage (conditions apply - see below)
  • Scotland's Saltire Scholarships
    Citizens of Canada, the People's Republic of China, India or USA (2 awards for each country)
  • Sports Scholarships
    All students
  • Staff Scholarships
    Employees of Heriot-Watt University
  • The Consumer Affairs UK Scholarship Programme
    All currently enrolled students
  • West Lothian Educational Trust
    Individuals must have originated in West Lothian or have lived there for the last 3 years.

Accreditation

Professional recognition

The MSc gives full exemption from all the educational requirements of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). On completion most of our students find employment in planning with a variety of employers, for example in local and central government, environmental and development agencies, private sector consultants and developers.

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