Geography and Urban and Regional Planning BSc (Hons)

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Urban and regional planning has a critical impact on the nature of the built environment. It helps to shape the nature, form and function of our towns and cities. Planners are involved in the making and shaping of place. Moreover, the planning system is in place to ensure that development takes place in the public interest and that there is a right balance between economic, environmental and social interests. It plays an essential role in ensuring that the places where we live and work are attractive, vibrant and well designed.

This popular combination of geography and planning explores some of the big issues facing today’s and tomorrow’s societies, including key issues such as urban regeneration, climate change, sustainable development, property development, community involvement and transport infrastructure. This programme particularly suits those geography students with a keen interest in human geography.

2014 National Student Survey "95% of students said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of our course"

Course fact file

UCAS code: LK74

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 181 (all Planning Joint Honours courses)

Applications in 2012: 881

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

Urban and regional planning lies at the heart of the major challenges that face existing and future generations. Decisions that are taken today can have a major impact on what happens to our towns and cities in the future, so it is important that we get those decisions right. Only by having an in-depth understanding of the way our towns and cities work can we hope to make informed decisions about the future of the built environment.

This unique degree course attempts to build this understanding by drawing on the academic strengths of one of the largest and most prestigious Geography departments in the UK, and the research and international reputation of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) here at Birmingham.  Based in the great planning laboratory that is Birmingham, you will be able to exploit fully the huge wealth of case study material available on your doorstep whilst interpreting these experiences in an international context. This will hopefully bring to life the issues you are studying and set them in a real world context.

The programme has been specifically designed to enable you to develop a sound understanding of the challenges facing our towns and cities and how we deal with these.

Download the Geography and Urban and Regional Planning BSc brochure (PDF 799KB)

Why study this course

All planning programmes benefit from the University of Birmingham's international teaching and research reputation within the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS). The research, consultancy and professional development links with a wide range of public, private and community organisations that have been developed by CURS over a period of time ensure that teaching on our courses is relevant, at the cutting-edge and led by our current research.

Modules

The degree programme has been designed to combine study in both geography and planning to ensure that you develop a strong foundation and an appreciation of how to use this knowledge to make decisions about the built environment. There are extremely close synergies between the two subjects, planning is really an applied form of human geography.  It offers a combination of both core and optional modules that will enable you to concentrate on issues and themes that are of particular interest to you.

Year 1

On the Geography side you will study both human and physical geography modules, participate in a domestic field trip and undertake some GIS mapping. On the planning side you will study the history and evolution of planning, explore how planning operates in the contemporary context and examine the socio-economic nature of cities and how they have changed. There is an emphasis in the modules on developing applied skills through fieldwork, tutorials and project work.

In the first year students take 120 credits over eight compulsory modules:

  • Contemporary Human Geography (20 credits)
  • Earth and Ecological Systems (20 credits)
  • Tutorial and Field Techniques (20 credits)
  • The Planning of the Built Environment (20 credits)
  • Society, Space and Policy (10 credits)
  • Economy, Space and Policy (10 credits)
  • Planning Tutorial (10 credits)
  • Mapping the Midlands (10 credits)

Year 2

The second year builds upon the knowledge acquired in the first year with a combination of both core and optional modules. The programme is designed to enable you to choose from a range of optional modules in order to tailor the degree to your own interests.

There is a focus in the second year of preparing students for their dissertation in the third year – so there is work on research methods and techniques. A European planning field course, is an important part of the programme in this year. This is led by the planning staff in the department and provides the opportunity to explore planning and regeneration issues in another location to provide a comparator to the UK experience. Past locations for this field trip have included visits to Lyon, Marseilles and Rotterdam. This involves a week-long intensive period of study in the field that involves visit to key planning and regeneration projects in the city concerned. There is a UK based alternative field trip for those who are not able to travel abroad.

Core Modules

Optional (to include modules such as)

Research Methods for Dissertations (20 credits)

Social and Political Geography (20 credits)

Statistical Methods for Geographers (10 credits)

Cultural Geography (20 credits)

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (10 credits)

Ecological Systems (20 credits)

Techniques and Fieldwork (20 credits)

Environmental Assessment and Management (20 credits)

Urban and Regional Economy (20 credits)

 

Understanding Neighbourhood Poverty (20 credits)

 

Year 3

In the third year you select specialised modules related to your areas of interest, and also undertake dissertation supervised by a member of staff, in which you are free to design, implement and analyse a research project of your own choosing.

The final year of study is designed to be fully flexible and allow for the development of individual interests.

Core Modules

Optional (to include modules such as)

Dissertation (40 credits)

Geographies of Incarceration (20 credits)

Contemporary Urban Development and Planning (20 credits)

Gender, Body and Performance (20 credits)

Regenerating Urban Communities (20 credits)

Post Socialist Transformation: Moscow (20 credits)

 

Geographies of Energy and Capitalism (20 credits)

 

Environmental Risk and Society (10 credits)

 

Environmental Governance (10 credits)

 

Professional Placement (10 credits)

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

Required subjects and grades: A Level Geography grade A. Grade C in each of GCSE English and Maths.

General Studies: We do not accept General Studies, Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies, or World Development.

Additional information:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points with 6 in HL Geography and two other HL subjects with 5 points in each. Minimum of 5 in SL English and Maths if not offered at GCSE or equivalent.

Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com  
Learn more about applying

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic community and will learn from both academics and place-based specialist practitioners. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, and we want you to be challenged and to think for yourself.

As a student you will be exposed to a variety of learning and teaching methods including lectures, small group teaching sessions, seminars, student-led workshops and tutorials. There will also be a variety of assessments that you will have to complete including essays, project-based work, posters and formal examinations.

In each of the three years there is an emphasis on applied, real world study, ensuring you gain those essential skills valued by all employers, including group and project work, IT skills, presentations and report writing skills.

You will have access to a comprehensive support system throughout your time at Birmingham that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues. In the induction week you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will oversee your academic and personal progress during the degree. During the first year you will have a formal transition review to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support. You will have regular meetings with your tutor to help you develop your skills and to plan your personal development.

Assessment methods

We use a number of different teaching and assessment methods including lectures, essays, group and individual work and formal examinations, culminating in an extended essay in Year three. Throughout the degree you will receive personalised support from a dedicated team of academic and support staff.

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through a combination of essays, group and individual work, and formal examinations, culminating in an extended essay in year three.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done.

Contact

Admissions Tutor: Dr Mike Beazley
Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 3278
Email: Planning Admissions

General admissions enquiries:
Student Recruitment Team
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 8327
Email: uggeographyadmissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Employability

Crowd of people in an urban area In studying urban and regional planning at Birmingham you can be confident that you will graduate with a well recognised degree, in which many of the modules which have been designed with the needs of employers in mind. You will be well placed to develop a career within planning field, either in the public or private sector. In both areas, the demand for qualified graduates is always there. The good news is that as our towns and cities are constantly evolving there will always be a need for planning as an activity.

94% of our Geography and Planning students feel that they have improved their career prospects 2014 National Student Survey

Past experience has shown that this degree opens doors to a wide variety of lucrative careers in the built environment. Potential career opportunities in Britain and overseas include town and country planning, inner-city regeneration, sustainable development, housing and conservation, property development or estates management, planning in developing and transitional countries, management traineeships in the public or private sectors, and teaching. Other students continue in education with further postgraduate study.

Geography and Planning undergraduate employability 2012-13 Geography and Planning - undergraduate destinations 2012/13

Find out more about career opportunities in Geography and Planning

You will leave with a range of skills relevant to careers beyond planning and its related fields. Our graduates are welcomed by a range of employers including central and local government; government agencies; property consultancies; planning and urban design consultancies; broader built environment consultancies; private companies and utilities; and developers. Actual recent career destinations for our students have included the Environment Agency, Homes and Community Agency, Birmingham City Council; Wyre Forest District Council; Redditch Borough Council; National Grid; King Sturge; Turley Associates; Lambert Smith Hampton; CBRE; Pegasus Planning Group to name a few.

The majority of employers will expect candidates to have an undergraduate degree in planning as a minimum. To become a chartered town planner (which is recommended for increased career prospects and to enter a job at a higher point in the pay scale) you will need to have completed a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) accredited degree. You can do this at the University of Birmingham by undertaking our RTPI accredited Masters Course in Urban and Regional Planning

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team in the College who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive at Birmingham.

Contact

Admissions Tutor: Dr Mike Beazley
Telephone enquiries: +44 (0)121 414 3278
Email: Planning Admissions

General admissions enquiries:
Student Recruitment Team
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 8327
Email: uggeographyadmissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk