In a world facing environmental, social and economic challenges, how we manage changes to our natural and built environments will be crucial for our future. In our urbanised world, how we design and plan our cities impacts our environmental sustainability, health and even happiness. This programme will equip you with the skills to be part of making progressive changes in your place.
In practice, there is a common tension between those developing and interpreting planning policy on the one hand, and the designers of cities on the other. This programme brings these groups together to engage in project-based learning. You will develop planning research, urban analysis and design skills before deciding whether to complete an urban design thesis or dissertation. Both of these options can be completed as work-based studies with opportunities for summer placements.
City Planning and Design highlights
This course is unique having been driven by engagement with practice rather than adhering to traditional academic subject areas. The core skills that urban designers and planners need have been clearly defined and form the basis for the course.
- There are fantastic opportunities to work with planning and urban design both locally and globally. Belfast is a city that is developing rapidly and this reflects a wider confidence in urban regeneration and development at a national level. Many recent graduates are working in planning authorities and consultancies throughout the UK and Ireland with others working in the related fields of housing, natural and built heritage and renewable energy.
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accredited as a standalone programme. Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) accredited if completed following an accredited undergraduate planning degree.
- As well as including employers in our teaching and development of projects we value the input of practitioners on our examination panels. Our employer links are further enhanced through formal partnership meetings with our accreditation bodies (RICS and RTPI) and by providing student prizes, for example, for the best independent research project. Therefore, course development is closely aligned to the requirements of the planning sector. Employers are often also consulted by students in the development of the independent research project. For example we have developed strong relationships in Northern Ireland with the Housing Executive, and the Planning Division of the Department of Infrastructure. As part of the support activities embedded in the degree employers contribute to regular careers events.
Internationally Renowned Experts
- The members of staff responsible for delivering the MSc are from a variety of professional and research backgrounds. Staff expertise includes international development, sustainable development, development economics and planning policy and practice. Each member will give a different perspective within the course, such that both theoretical and applied elements will be fully developed and a rounded high-level education will result.
- Significant emphasis is placed on the development of problem-solving skills during live projects in this programme. The option of a work-based study for the thesis module reflects the local confidence within the planning and urban design sector of the quality of QUB student work. Placements can be in planning offices, architectural practices or with related heritage, environmental or community sector groups. The environs of the university are extremely pleasant: Northern Ireland and Belfast have been highlighted by The Sunday Times in 2018 as the best places to live in the United Kingdom. Belfast and the Causeway Coast have been listed as the best regions to visit in the world by Lonely Planet in 2018. Moreover, the manner in which Northern Ireland is positioned after Brexit may make it the most convenient location in the UK for ready interaction with the EU.
“In an increasingly urbanising world, cities represent both the greatest social, environmental and economic challenges and opportunities for planners and urban designers alike to create more sustainable environments and just societies.”
Dr Neil Galway, Programme Director for MSc City Planning and Design
Course Content The MSc is designed to allow you to develop real world project management skills through the completion of live design projects for local authority and community sector clients. You will also acquire urban and data analysis skills that you can use to develop strategic regeneration policies and design solutions. The course content gives theoretical and practical coverage across a wide variety of topics including:
• Green infrastructure
• The Inclusive City
• Urban Technological Developments
• Low carbon transition
• Critical Heritage Perspectives
• Cities and the e-economy
• Planning the Urban-Rural dialectic
• Demographic challenges
• The future of urban housing
• Health in future cities
Course Modules Comparative Urban Design (20 CATS)
Spatial Literacy (20 CATS)
Urban Futures (20 CATS)
Future Planning Practice (20 CATS)
Planning for Sustainable Communities (20 CATS)
Approaches to Development (20 CATS)
Thesis (60 CATS)
Part-time Modules EVP7039, EVP7040 & EVP7043 modules will be delivered in year one.
EVP7038, EVP7041, EVP7042 & EVP7044 modules will be delivered in year two.
Students failing more than 20 CATS points worth of taught modules will not normally be permitted to progress on to the Thesis Module. A student who has failed one 20 CATS taught module will normally be allowed to progress to the Thesis Module at the student's risk. If a student fails the Thesis Module on a second attempt, a post-graduate Diploma may be awarded.
People teaching you
Natural and Built Environment
As well as being Director of the Postgraduate Education in Planning, Neil is a chartered urban planner who has experience in strategic planning policy, plan preparation and regeneration.
Natural and Built Environment
A Lecturer in Spatial Planning, his research interests relate to the intersection of urban planning policy, housing markets and strategies of urban economic development.
Natural and Built Environment
A leading figure in global environmental sustainability research with on-going projects in India, Liberia and Brazil.
15 hours of teaching per week, spread across 5 days (Mon-Fri)
Our graduates end up in leading positions in central and local government as well as in planning consultancies in the private sector. Some of them have gone on to lead significant environmental campaigns such as opposition to fracking; work with NGOs such as Friends of the Earth; and work with communities to make their neighbourhoods better, such as with disadvantaged groups.
Employment after the Course
Examples of employment: Urban Design and Planning practices, Research institutions, GIS companies, Housing organisations, Community Advocacy Groups, Environmental and Community sector NGOs.
Graduate employers include:- Belfast City Council, Department for Infrastructure and other public and private sector planning consultancies.
Learning and Teaching
Learning and teaching is split into the following:
Demonstrator-led IT skills tutorials to ensure students develop GIS and data visualisation skills such as proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch Up.
A key component to all group projects whereby tutors offer feedback on student ideas in small groups during the completion of live projects for professional clients.
This is an essential part of life as a Queen’s student when important private reading, engagement with e-learning resources, reflection on feedback to date and assignment research and preparation work is carried out.
Student-led thematic presentations that address major global themes are a crucial part of this programme. Placing the emphasis to research and interpret relevant information on the student allows for the programme to incorporate and fulfil their interests.
Assessments associated with the course are described below:
Methods of assessment will comprise a combination of group reports, individual assignments, student presentations, portfolio submissions and role-play exercises. A major component of this degree will involve the completion of a thesis based on an independent research project over the third semester, supervised by a member of research staff.
The Planning department has a devoted studio space along with several shared workshop facilities with 3D printers, plotters, laser cutters and traditional model-making equipment. In joining the larger School of the Natural and Built Environment in 2016, Planning students also have access to GIS labs.
Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a relevant subject.
Applicants with qualifications below 2.2 Honours degree standard, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, will be considered on a case-by-case basis, if they can demonstrate appropriate acceptable experience.
The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit http://go.qub.ac.uk/RPLpolicy for more information
The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2022. However, we encourage applicants to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.
A deposit is required to secure a place.
Our country pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country. Use the dropdown list below for 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, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
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
Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,650 Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,650 England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,470 EU Other 3 £18,200 International £18,200
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.
2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2022-23, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may be 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 £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.
Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.
If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.
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, examination resits and library fines.
City Planning and Design costs
Students are required to undertake a compulsory field trip to a European city. They are responsible for funding travel, accommodation and subsistence costs and should budget for approximately £500.
How do I fund my study?
The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.
A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.
How to Apply
When to Apply
The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.
Fees and Funding