The discipline of Planning is located in the School of Natural and Built Environment, David Keir Building on Stranmillis Road. Planning is a fascinating subject to study at university. Planning is about changing the places within which we live. How we can transform and improve our cities, towns, villages, neighbourhoods, and communities. So, it affects our everyday lives and is an extremely exciting discipline to study at university. A Planning degree provides you with the knowledge and skills to be able to make decisions that shape the processes of growth and development. We currently face many major challenges - for example, attracting investment, creating jobs, protecting the environment, energy policy, housing supply, transport links, providing local amenities, protecting health and wellbeing - and Planning affects how these things happen. Therefore, as future planners you will have a very important role to play in shaping the future. Planning is a broad subject matter and planners perform many different roles relating to the natural, physical, economic, social, and cultural environments that we live in. Given this, Planning offers a wide spectrum of employment opportunities. Studying Planning will equip you with the knowledge to understand how cities, towns, villages, communities, and neighbourhoods function and operate, and then have the skills to make decisions that shape how they grow and prosper.
This MPlan is a unique degree, offering a complete four-year pathway in professional planning education, with a specialisation in European Planning. Innovative features include an emphasis on understanding European-wide planning issues and overseas study at a European university, which will include opportunities for work placement. This provides unique insights into the diversity of planning cultures and challenges across the continent, allowing graduates to grasp a wide range of employment opportunities in the UK, Europe and beyond.
European Planning Degree highlights
Planning at Queen’s is ranked 2nd overall by subject (Building and Town and Country Planning) in the Guardian University League Tables, 2020.
- This degree is accredited by two professional bodies: the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
- 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 for Infrastructure.
As part of the support activities embedded in the degree, employers contribute to regular careers events.
Course Content The first two years are shared with the BSc Planning, Environment and Development and students will be eligible to transfer from one degree to the other at the end of the second year. In the third year, MPlan students begin to concentrate on aspects of European planning. The degree includes fieldwork in Stages 1-3 and a week-long field study to Europe during Stage 3 (in recent years the destination has been Barcelona). Students will go on work placement during the summer between Stage 2 and Stage 3. The fourth year is spent at a partner university in Europe. We currently have partners in Sweden, The Netherlands, France and Germany. Stage 1 Stage 1 courses are outlined below:
Planning Health and Well Being
Planning Skills and GIS
Design Principles in the Built Environment
Contemporary Issues in Urban and Rural Planning
The History of Planned Settlement
Institutional and Policy Context of Planning Practice
Stage 2 Stage 2 courses are outlined below:
Site Layout and Design
Planning and Climate Change
Economy and Space
Theory and Practice of Development Management
Planning Theory and Society
Theory and Practice of Spatial Planning Policy
Stage 3 Stage 3 courses are outlined below:
Planning Practice Study Visit
Comparative Planning Studies
Researching European Planning
European Planning Perspectives
Legal Studies in Planning
Themes in European Planning
Stage 3 Optional Courses Infrastructure and Transportation Planning
Conservation of the Built Environment
Stage 4 Stage 4 courses are outlined below:
Advanced European Planning Studies (i)
Advanced European Planning Studies (ii)
Stage 4 Optional Courses Independent Research Project in European Planning
Work-based Study in European Planning
People teaching youDr Philip Boland
Programme Director for MPlan in European Planning
Natural and Built Environment
Philip is a Reader in Urban Planning. His research focuses on economic development, illegal drugs, religion and planning, city branding, economics of religion, and cultural planning.
Contact Teaching Times
Large Group Teaching 6 (hours maximum)
6 hours of lectures
Medium Group Teaching 6 (hours maximum)
6 hours of practical classes, workshops or seminars each week
Personal Study 24 (hours maximum)
22-24 hours studying and revising in your own time each week, including some guided study using handouts, online activities etc
Small Group Teaching/Personal Tutorial 8 (hours maximum)
8 hours of tutorials (or later, project supervision) each week
Learning and Teaching
At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable students to achieve their full academic potential.
On this MPlan we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society and make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners. Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this degree are:
- E-Learning technologies
Information associated with lectures and assessments is often communicated via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Canvas. A range of e-learning experiences are also embedded in the degree through, for example: interactive group workshops in a flexible learning space; IT and statistics components; podcasts and interactive web-based learning activities such as on-line discussion forums; opportunities to use IT programmes associated with design in practicals and project- based work etc.
- Employer/community input
Teaching will be complemented by the inclusion of contributions from those in planning authorities, professional planning practice and representatives of local communities. Such practitioners will contribute directly to lectures, field visits and practical student projects. For example, we partner with community groups to develop project ideas that are relevant to the needs of the sector. Recently this has included work on social economics, public participation, social documentary and others. Contributors have included the East Belfast Partnership, Friends of the Earth, Belfast Healthy Cities, Belfast City Council, Groundwork NI, the private sector (Turley Associates, BS Design), the BBC and many others. This will provide a significant learning and employability enhancement opportunity, draws on the strong professional and community links of teaching staff and enables professional contacts to be developed.
- Field Trips
From the beginning of year one you will be involved in ‘getting out there’ on field trips of one day or longer. For example, a project in year one will include a visit to a local town in order to develop a design brief. In year three students will participate in a week-long stay in a European city, in recent years we have visited Barcelona. Such learning will enable you to apply your existing knowledge and research skills to a different and international setting. It will also provide an opportunity to engage with lecturers and practitioners in a more informal context. Students have told us that they value such interaction and the friendliness of lecturing staff.
Introduce basic information about new topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. Lectures also provide opportunities to ask questions, gain some feedback and advice on assignments (normally delivered in large groups to all year group peers). There are normally between 24 and 25 undergraduate Planning students on the courses we run (BSc and MPlan). In some modules you will be with students from other degrees, but on the whole the planning degree will provide you with an excellent staff to student ratio.
- Peer Mentoring
All Level one students will have the opportunity to be mentored by Level 3 students. There will also be other opportunities for career-related mentoring as you progress.
- Personal Tutor
All students will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will meet with them on several occasions during the year to support their academic and skills development and discuss individual student’s career aspirations.
- Self-directed study
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. Self-directed study will commonly be supported by seminars/tutorials.
Significant amounts of teaching will be carried out in small groups (typically 10-15 students). This will include breaking up into small groups within lectures. These sessions will provide opportunities to engage with academic staff that has specialist knowledge of the topic, to ask questions of them and to assess your own progress and understanding with the support of peers. You should also expect to make presentations and other contributions to these groups. Teaching staff will also be available on a one to one basis for tutorial sessions. The amount of time allocated to seminars will vary across modules and will be clearly outlined in the module guides provided.
- Studio Work
Planning is one of only a few courses at Queen’s which conducts a large proportion of its teaching in a studio environment. We use studio projects to help you develop design/technical skills and apply theoretical principles to real-life or practical contexts. For you, studio work will offer a unique and highly supportive learning experience. Most of our project work is conducted in our own dedicated studio in which you may work informally, individually or in small groups, with staff on-hand to offer guidance and support.
- Supervised projects
In the final year, you will be expected to carry out an independent research project on a planning topic. You will receive one to one support from a supervisor who will guide you in terms of how to carry out your research and successfully complete your project.
- Work-Related learning
Throughout the degree you will be applying theoretical ideas to real-life projects and engaging with the world of work. For example, the design stream of the degree will begin in year one with a design brief which will be consolidated with a design proposal in year two. Year two will also include a plan making exercise for a local town, and a client-based project involving a planning response and appeal. You will engage with the world of work, therefore, through engaging with practitioners as outlined above and by working on and disseminating projects with employers that draws on ‘live’ issues. For example, during year two students present their group findings on plan-making to classmates, lecturers and professional experts. In year 3, there will be considerable opportunity for engagement with international, comparative topics and an international field study module. In recent year the location we have visited is Barcelona.
Details of assessments associated with this course are outlined below:
- The way in which you will be assessed will vary according to the intended learning outcomes of each module. Some modules are assessed solely through project work or other written assignments. Others are assessed through a combination of coursework, and end of semester examinations. Academic staff are active in teaching and research, have obtained teaching awards and have developed innovative learning and assessment methods. The latter might include a role-play exercise, developing social enquiry through working on a film documentary or applying theoretical ideas to discussion of a film. Details of how each module will be assessed will be shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students at the start of each academic year, and on Canvas.
As students progress through their course they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, project supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. University students are expected to engage with reflective practice and to use this approach to improve the quality of their work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:
- Feedback provided via formal written comments and marks relating to work that you, as an individual or as part of a group, have submitted.
- Face to face comment. This may include occasions when you make use of the lecturers’ advertised “office hours” and "feedback days" to help you to address a specific query.
- Comments from planning practitioners contributing to lectures, field visits and 'real life' student projects.
- Online or emailed comment
- General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, seminar or tutorial.
- Pre-submission advice regarding the standards you should aim for and common pitfalls to avoid. In some instances, this may involve revision sessions drawing on past examination papers.
- Feedback and outcomes from practical classes
- Comment and guidance provided by staff from specialist support services such as, Careers, Employability and Skills or the Learning Development Service.
- Once you have reviewed your feedback, you are encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work. You will be supported in this process by your personal tutor.
- E-Learning technologies
In addition, to the entrance requirements above, it is essential that you read our guidance below on 'How we choose our students' prior to submitting your UCAS application.
Applications are dealt with centrally by the Admissions and Access Service rather than by individual University Schools. Once your on-line form has been processed by UCAS and forwarded to Queen's, an acknowledgement is normally sent within two weeks of its receipt at the University.
Selection is on the basis of the information provided on your UCAS form. Decisions are made on an ongoing basis and will be notified to you via UCAS.
For last year’s intake, applicants for this MPlan programme offering A-level/BTEC Level 3 qualifications must have had, or be able to achieve, a minimum of six GCSE passes at grade B/6 or better. A minimum of grade C/4 is required in English Language and Mathematics. Performance in any AS or A-level examinations already completed would also have been taken into account and the Selector checks that any specific entry requirements in terms of GCSE and/or A-level subjects can be fulfilled.
Offers are normally made on the basis of three A-levels. Two subjects at A-level plus two at AS would also be considered. The offer for repeat candidates is set in terms of three A-levels and may be one grade higher than for first time applicants. Grades may be held from the previous year.
Applicants offering two A-levels and one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent qualification), or one A-level and a BTEC Diploma/National Diploma (or equivalent qualification) will also be considered. Offers will be made in terms of performance in individual BTEC units rather than the overall BTEC grade(s) awarded. Please note that a maximum of one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent) will be counted as part of an applicant’s portfolio of qualifications. The normal GCSE profile will be expected.
Applicants offering other qualifications, such as Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, will also be considered.
For applicants offering a HNC, the current requirements are successful completion of the HNC with 3 Distinctions and remainder Merits. For those offering a Higher National Diploma, some flexibility may be allowed in terms of GCSE profile but, to be eligible for an offer, at least 6 of the units completed in the first year of the HND must be at Merit grade, and the remainder Passes. The current entrance requirements are successful completion of the HND with 4 Distinctions and remainder Merits in units assessed in the final year. Any consideration would be for Stage 1 entry only. A minimum of grade C/4 is required in GCSE Mathematics.
The information provided in the personal statement section and the academic reference together with predicted grades are noted however, these are not the final deciding factors as to whether or not a conditional offer can be made. However, they may be reconsidered in a tie break situation in August.
A-level General Studies and A-level Critical Thinking would not normally be considered as part of a three A-level offer and, although they may be excluded where an applicant is taking four A-level subjects, the grade achieved could be taken into account if necessary in August/September.
Candidates are not normally asked to attend for interview.
If you are made an offer then you may be invited to a Faculty/School Visit Day, which is usually held in the second semester. This will allow you the opportunity to visit the University and to find out more about the degree programme of your choice and the facilities on offer. It also gives you a flavour of the academic and social life at Queen's.
If you cannot find the information you need here, please contact the University Admissions Service (firstname.lastname@example.org), giving full details of your qualifications and educational background.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
An IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each test component or an equivalent acceptable qualification, details of which are available at: http://go.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.
International Students - Foundation and International Year One Programmes
INTO Queen's offers a range of academic and English language programmes to help prepare international students for undergraduate study at Queen's University. You will learn from experienced teachers in a dedicated international study centre on campus, and will have full access to the University's world-class facilities.
These programmes are designed for international students who do not meet the required academic and English language requirements for direct entry.
The INTO progression course suited to this programme is
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
MPlan students will go on work placement during the end of Stage 2 and will have the option of developing further work placement opportunities during Stage 4. This degree builds on the University‘s established reputation for high-quality planning education. On past experience of the BSc in Planning, Environment and Development, and the MPlan’s special features, we anticipate that graduates will find employment in areas such as:
Planning authorities and municipalities
Private planning practice/property development
Housing authorities and agencies, such as housing associations
Policy advisers in planning, urban regeneration and the environment, particularly at the level of the EU
Conservation and environmental NGOs
Teaching (particularly geography)
Public bodies, such as advisory bodies on the environment, heritage, transport and heritage
Various graduate programmes (including banking and management)
Further study (PhD) and research positions
We regularly consult with employers, links which are further enhanced through formal partnership meetings with the bodies that accredit our courses (RICS and RTPI), having a practising planner as one of our External Examiners and involving a wide range of potential employers in student projects and regular careers events.
Additional Awards Gained(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Prizes and Awards(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Degree plus award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Degree Plus. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.
Fees and Funding
Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,530 Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,530 England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £9,250 EU Other 3 £17,400 International £17,400
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
For further information please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, 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.
Tuition fee rates are calculated based on a student’s tuition fee status and generally increase annually by inflation. How tuition fees are determined is set out in the Student Finance Framework.
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. A programme may have up to 6 modules per year, each with a recommended text.
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 final year 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.
European Planning costs
Year 3 includes a compulsory international field trip, with overall costs in the past ranging from £250 - £400. Students will be based overseas at one of our international partner universities in Year 4 and will be required to return to Queen's twice in the year. Depending on the location of your host university, costs may range from £100 - £400.
Students who undertake a period of study abroad are responsible for funding travel, accommodation and subsistence costs. These costs vary depending on the location and duration of the placement.
If the placement is undertaken under the European Erasmus programme, students are normally eligible to receive a top-up grant to contribute towards these costs of approximately €300 per month. A limited number of Erasmus grants are available.
How do I fund my study?
There are different tuition fee and student financial support arrangements for students from Northern Ireland, those from England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain), and those from the rest of the European Union.
Information on funding options and financial assistance for undergraduate students is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/Fees-and-scholarships/.
Each year, we offer a range of scholarships and prizes for new students. Information on scholarships available.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.
How and when to Apply
How to Apply
Application for admission to full-time undergraduate and sandwich courses at the University should normally be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full information can be obtained from the UCAS website at: www.ucas.com/students.
When to Apply
UCAS will start processing applications for entry in autumn 2021 from 1 September 2020.
Advisory closing date: 15 January 2021 (18:00). This is the 'equal consideration' deadline for this course.
Applications from UK and EU students after this date are, in practice, considered by Queen’s for entry to this course throughout the remainder of the application cycle (30 June 2021) subject to the availability of places.
Applications from International (non-UK/EU) students are normally considered by Queen’s for entry to this course until 30 June 2021. If you apply for 2021 entry after this deadline, you will automatically be entered into Clearing.
Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as is consistent with having made a careful and considered choice of institutions and courses.
The Institution code name for Queen's is QBELF and the institution code is Q75.
Further information on applying to study at Queen's is available at: www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/How-to-apply/
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.
Additional Information for International (non-EU) Students
- Applying through UCAS
Most students make their applications through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for full-time undergraduate degree programmes at Queen's. The UCAS application deadline for international students is 30 June 2021.
- Applying direct
The Direct Entry Application form is to be used by international applicants who wish to apply directly, and only, to Queen's or who have been asked to provide information in advance of submitting a formal UCAS application. Find out more.
- Applying through agents and partners
The University’s in-country representatives can assist you to submit a UCAS application or a direct application. Please consult the Agent List to find an agent in your country who will help you with your application to Queen’s University.
Fees and Funding
- Applying through UCAS