Planning, Environment and Development (BSC HONS) K430 | Courses | Queen's University Belfast
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BSc | Undergraduate

Planning, Environment and Development

Entry year
Entry requirements
3 years (Full Time)
UCAS code
  • Overview

    Planning is about changing the places within which we live. How we can transform and improve our cities, towns, villages, neighbourhoods and communities. It affects our everyday lives and is an extremely exciting discipline to study at university.

    A planning degree provides students 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 – attracting investment, creating jobs, protecting the environment, energy policy, housing supply, transport links, providing local amenities – 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.

    Planning, Environment and Development Degree highlights

    Planning at Queen's is ranked 1st among UK planning schools for Satisfaction with Teaching (Guardian University League Tables, 2020) and ranked 2nd in the UK for Overall Student Satisfaction (National Student Survey, 2019).

    Professional Accreditations

    • This degree is accredited by two professional bodies: the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

    Career Development

    • The BSc in Planning, Environment and Development includes a work placement, which takes place at the end of Level 2 and involves a period of work in a professional planning organisation. Such experience is extremely valuable in enhancing student skills and employability.

    Brexit Advice

    Information on the implications of Brexit for prospective students.

  • Course content

    Course Structure

    IntroductionThe general aims of this degree are to develop the professional skills necessary to work in the broad field of planning practice and development management, while providing an understanding of related economical, ethical, social and political dimensions. Graduates will have the skills to enable them to participate in the design and development of the built environment, and a range of other related professions.

    In providing an accredited pathway to the planning profession (worldwide), the degree develops knowledge on a wide range of themes such as the economic, social and political context within which planning operates. Furthermore, a range of transferable skills, such as mediation, advocacy, communication and IT skills, are developed which can be applied in a range of international careers.
    Stage 1Stage 1 assumes no prior knowledge of planning and provides an overall introduction to the key issues, processes and professional skills required for planning practice, plus the history and evolution of planning as a profession and academic discipline. This includes projects that promote group working, oral presentations, academic writing, design skills and the use of specialist software.

    The themes you will study during Stage 1 include:

    Planning Health and Well Being
    Planning Skills and GIS
    Design Principles in the Built Environment
    The History of Planned Settlement
    Contemporary Issues in Urban and Rural Planning
    Institutional and Policy Context of Planning Practice
    Stage 2Stage 2 provides a more detailed appreciation of planning, with modules examining topics such as economics, sustainable development and planning theory. It includes two key projects, one that develops skills in spatial planning policy, and another that promotes understanding of the development control process. Students are also given an opportunity to further develop skills in design issues and are introduced to the social aspects of planning activity.

    The themes you will study during Stage 2 include:

    Site Layout and Design 2
    Theory and Practice of Development Management
    Planning Theory and Society
    Planning and Climate Change
    Economy and Space
    Theory and Practice of Spatial Planning Policy

    The BSc in Planning, Environment and Development includes a work placement, which takes place at the end of Level 2 and involves a period of work in a professional planning organisation. Such experience is extremely valuable in enhancing student skills and employability.
    Stage 3Stage 3 develops a greater theoretical understanding of planning. In the first semester students will study, in depth, some of the key and cutting-edge planning issues and debates that currently face the planning profession. These are studied from a variety of geographical, political and cultural perspectives. In the second semester all students are required to complete an independent research project. The second semester also includes modules in law, infrastructure and transport, and conservation.

    The themes you will study during Stage 3 include:

    Legal Studies in Planning
    Independent Research Project
    Planning Practice Study Visit
    Comparative Planning Studies
    Themes in Spatial Planning
    Research Methods and Place
    Stage 3 Optional CoursesConservation of the Built Environment
    Infrastructure and Transportation Planning

    People teaching you

    Dr Richard Waldron
    Programme Director for BSc Planning, Environment and Development

    Richard is a Lecturer in Spatial Planning in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University Belfast. His research interests relate to the intersection of urban planning policy, housing markets and strategies of urban economic development.

    Contact Teaching Times

    Large Group Teaching6 (hours maximum)
    hours of lectures.
    Medium Group Teaching6 (hours maximum)
    hours of practical classes, workshops or seminars each week.
    Personal Study24 (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 Tutorial8 (hours maximum)
    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 the BSc in Planning, Environment and Development 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 this has included Krakow and 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.
    • Lectures
      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 40 and 50 Planning students on the course. 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 Stage Three Students. There will also be other opportunities for career-related mentoring as you progress.
    • Personal Tutor
      All BSc Planning 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.
    • Seminars/tutorials
      Significant amounts of teaching will be carried out in small groups (typically 10-20 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 three, there will be considerable opportunity for engagement with international, comparative topics and international practitioners during a field study module. Recent collaborators from the world of work include the Chief Architect and Town Planner from Krakow City.


    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.


    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.


    Planning students at Queen’s have access to excellent teaching and learning facilities. These include dedicated studio space for students, excellent presentation facilities, dedicated computer labs with all necessary computing and software facilities (GIS, CAD), as well as world-class library facilities offered through the McClay Library.

    Internationally Renowned Experts Resources

    Many of our staff are leading experts in their fields of research and have been recognised internationally through the awarding of significant research grants and awards. For example, Dr Linda Fox-Rogers was recently awarded the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Early Career Research Award for her work on uneven power dynamics within the planning system.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    A level requirements
    ABB + GCSE Mathematics grade C/4
    Irish leaving certificate requirements
    H3H3H3H3H3H3/H2H3H3H3H3 + if not offered at Higher Level then Ordinary Level grade O4 in Mathematics
    Access Course
    Successful completion of Access Course with an average of 70%. GCSE Mathematics grade C/4 or equivalent in Access Course.
    International Baccalaureate Diploma
    33 points overall, including 6,5,5 at Higher Level + if not offered at Higher Level/GCSE, then Standard Level grade 4 in Mathematics
    BTEC Level 3 Extended/National Extended Diploma
    QCF Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma (180 credits), with 120 credits at Distinction grade and 60 credits at Merit grade + GCSE Mathematics grade C/4

    RQF Level 3 BTEC National Extended Diploma (1080 Guided Learning Hours (GLH)), with at least 660 GLH at Distinction grade (minimum 240 GLH to be externally assessed) and 420 GLH at Merit grade + GCSE Mathematics grade C/4
    A minimum of a 2:2 Honours Degree + GCSE Mathematics grade C/4

    Selection Criteria

    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 BSc programme offering A-level/BTEC Level 3 qualifications must have had, or be able to achieve, a minimum of five GCSE passes at grade C/4 or better (to include 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 2 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 half of the units completed in the first year of the HND must be at Merit level and the remainder Passes. The current entrance requirements are successful completion of the HND with Merits in all 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 (, giving full details of your qualifications and educational background.

    International Students

    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:

    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.

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

    • 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.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Careers

    Career Prospects

    Although the majority of our graduates pursue careers in planning, the knowledge and skills developed also enable them to develop careers in a wide range of other sectors both in the UK and abroad. Recently, for example, graduates have found employment in China, the USA and New Zealand.

    Career sectors that have attracted our graduates in recent years include planning authorities (Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland), private planning practice, management, design consultants, housing authorities, health trusts, conservation and environmental organisations, teaching (particularly geography), countryside stewardship, software development and various graduate programmes.

    This degree is closely aligned to the requirements of the planning sector and draws on practitioners as guest lecturers. We regularly consult with employers, and links are further enhanced through formal partnership meetings with the bodies that accredit our courses (RICS and RTPI).

    We have developed strong relationships with, for example, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Planning Division of the Department of the Environment, and the Department for Regional Development, and draw on such experts in the design of the degree.

    Many of our graduates go on to one of our two Masters programmes to complete their RTPI accreditation, or other postgraduate training, including PhD study; see the School website for further information.

    Employment Links
    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 the Environment and Department for Regional Development.

    As part of the support activities embedded in the degree, employers contribute to 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

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) £4,530
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £9,250
    Other (non-UK) EU * £TBC
    International £17,400

    The undergraduate fees for 2021 entry are set out above.

    * The tuition fees that EU students starting courses at UK universities following the agreed transition period are required to pay will depend on what is agreed as part of the UK's exit negotiations. Please refer to It is however expected that there will be a specific arrangements put in place for RoI nationals living in the UK and Ireland and those with pre-settled and settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

    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

    All Students

    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.

    Planning, Environment and Development costs

    The major additional course costs associated with the Planning, Environment and Development degree programme concern field trips. In year 3 students are taken on an international field trip which in the past has involved Barcelona, Krakow and Berlin. Students are responsible for funding travel, accommodation and subsistence costs and also entrance fees to the various venues visited costs range from £400 - £500. In addition, there are a number of local day, overnight and weekend trips across the degree programme. For these trips students are responsible for funding subsistence costs.

    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


    Each year, we offer a range of scholarships and prizes for new students. Information on scholarships available.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at



  • Apply

    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:

    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:

    Apply via UCAS

    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

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

    Download a prospectus


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