The Institute of Spatial and Environmental Planning (ISEP) is one of the fastest growing and dynamic planning research environments in the UK.

Planning at Queen's achieved a dramatic improvement in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. In 2008, 12 staff were submitted, an increase of one third, and the UK-wide ranking rose by eight places. It is now rated ninth in Russell Group submissions.

Our research programme is based on the concept of spatial planning and whilst our empirical work is partly grounded in the region, it is built on strong international, interdisciplinary and theoretical references. Our particular strength is the staff team who have built a track record in scholarly and applied research and a wide-ranging portfolio of publications, research grants and Doctoral studentships. Since 2000, the Institute has more than doubled its staff base, built an international reputation and attracted a stream of major research funding linked to our main areas. The Institute values the connection between our research and teaching programmes and the application of our empirical work in a learning environment, and continues to innovate and develop teaching programmes to reflect a rapidly changing market place, problem and policy context and changes in professional standards.

Mode of study / duration
Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil (or part-time equivalent).



Programme Details

Research information

Associated Research
SEP has built a strong postgraduate group which is effectively integrated into our research projects, teaching and School activities. We offer dedicated support and mentoring within the School to complement training available from the wider University. Moreover, we have the staff expertise within ISEP and our School to offer comprehensive support to postgraduate students across a range of projects in spatial planning. Our research strengths centre on two objective areas:

Interpreting the spatial planning implications of ethnic territoriality and community cohesion, connecting our analysis of contested places within the UK with international scholarship; and
Developing critical insights into the sustainable creation of place and the role of participatory governance in regulating the shaping of social and environmental space.
Current projects involve a range of studies on contested spaces that build on our strong international research partnerships in North America, South Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The global challenge of development is also reflected in projects on climate change, marine spatial planning and urban design.
We encourage and support fieldwork in international settings and current students have conducted their empirical studies in Bangladesh, Australia and the USA.

Career Prospects


People teaching you

Professor Frank Gaffikin
Director of Research
Spatial&Environmental Planning
Email: r.barnes@qub.ac.uk

Entry Requirements

Entrance requirements

The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.


For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component (*taken within the last 2 years) is required.

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

  • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) Not set
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) Not set
Other (non-UK) EU Not set
International £19,700

These are due December 2017 

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Environmental Planning costs

There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.

How do I fund my study?

PhD Funded Opportunities

Find PhD funding opportunities and studentships by subject area.
Find out more >

Doctoral Training Centres at Queen's

Queen's has seven outstanding competitive Doctoral Training Centres, with each one providing funding for a number of PhD positions and more importantly a hub for carrying out world class research in key disciplines.
Find out more >

New UK PhD loans

The UK Government will introduce new doctoral loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes from 2018. Loans will be offered to English-resident students to study all types of doctorate at universities across the UK.
Find out more >

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.

* information shown is for 2017-18 and should be used as a guide until 2018-19 scholarships are confirmed.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal go.qub.ac.uk/pgapply and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Speak to your supervisor

If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions. If you have your own research idea, contact the relevant School www.qub.ac.uk/about/Leadership-and-structure/Faculties-and-Schools to discuss it with us. If you are unsure of who to contact, email our Faculty Hubs www.qub.ac.uk/about/Leadership-and-structure/Faculties-and-Schools for guidance. You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.

Download a prospectus


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