Planning and Social Policy BSc (Hons)

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Our Planning and Social Policy Joint Honours BSc degree courses is delivered by the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) in collaboration with other departments from the College of Social Sciences. 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.

2012 National Student Survey "98% of students said that overall they were satisfied with the quality of our Planning course"

Course fact file

UCAS code: KLK4

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 181 (all Geography courses)

Applications in 2011: 881

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

Start date: September


This degree explores some of the big issues facing today’s and tomorrow’s societies including: housing provision; climate change; sustainable development; property development; leisure tourism and transport infrastructure; exchange rates; trade agreements; income tax; international banking; and the NHS and other public sector organisations.

Download the Planning and Social Policy BSc brochure (PDF 787KB)

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.


The degree programme has been designed to combine study in both social policy 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. Knowledge of social policy is a fundamental part of our urban world and the understanding of how society works is critical to the operation of the planning system and how cities function.  The programme 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 Social Policy side you will study a range of modules on social policy and social issues. On the planning side you will study the history and evolution of planning, explore how planning operates in the contemporary context, examine the socio-economic nature of cities and how they have changed and undertake some basic GIS mapping. 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 8 compulsory modules:

  • 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)
  • Introduction to Social Policy A and B (20 credits)
  • Finding Out About Social Policy: Introduction to Social Research (20 credits)
  • Social Issues and Social Policy (20 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 extended essay/dissertation in the third year – so there is work on research methods and techniques.



Core Modules

Optional (to include modules such as):

The Urban and Regional Economy: Problems and Policies A and B (20 credits)

 Social Inclusion (20 credits) 

 Managing Health and Social Care (20 credits)

 Statutory and Voluntary Perspectives A & B (20 credits) 

 Beveridge to Cameron: the political history of the welfare state from the 1940s to the present day (20 credits)

 Social Policy into practice (20 credits)

 New Migration and Super-diversity (20 credits)

Understanding Neighbourhood Poverty (20 Credits)

Introduction to Social Research A and B (20 credits)

Social Theory and Social Policy A and B (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) or Extended Essay (20 credits)

 Comparative Social Policy (20 credits)

 Crime and Justice (20 credits)

 New Migration and Super-diversity (20 credits)

 Poverty and Social Security (20 credits)

 Your Money or Your Life (20 credits)

Contemporary Urban Development and Planning (20 credits)

Regenerating Urban Communities (20 credits)

The Prospects for Social Policy A and B (20 credits)


Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding 

Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

Required subjects and grades: 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:

Unconditional offers will be made to high-quality applicants who are predicted AAA or above at A level. For details see the Unconditional Offer Scheme 2015

Unconditional offers are based on:

  • A Level predictions of AAA +
  • AS results of at least ABB
  • 5 GCSEs at grade A including English, Maths and a Science
  • 2 GCSEs at grade B
  • Academic reference
  • Personal statement

Other qualifications are considered – see entry requirements for full details. 

International students:

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

Standard English language requirements apply 

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  
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.


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.