Jenny: MSc Urban and Regional Planning

MSc Urban and Regional Planning

Jenny Adams, an alumna of the MSc Urban and Regional Planning masters degree course in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, talks about her experiences on the course and her career since graduating.


My name is Jenny Adams. I'm a senior planner within ARUP’s Planning Policy and Economics team. ARUP is a large engineering consultancy and I work in their London office.

Since graduation my career has always been ARUP actually. I started as a graduate planner on their graduate scheme, and I worked for a couple of years on a variety of different projects. I then in my second year at ARUP transferred to the South Africa business in the Johannesburg office, and that was part of a master planning project for Pretoria, so that was a really exciting thing to be able to do early on in my career. And I worked out in South Africa for a year, and then I, once the project ended, I moved back to London. I was promoted to a senior planner and I've been working on a range of different projects again – lots of large scale master planning projects, strategic planning, and doing socioeconomic research.

I studied at the Urban and Regional Planning Masters, which is a Royal Town Planning Institute accredited course – that was at the University of Birmingham, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies which is within the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences.

The course was about urban and regional planning. We did a variety of modules such as introduction to special planning. We also got the chance to learn about urban regeneration and renewal, sustainable cities. We did a course on place making and urban design which is the more design focused aspect of planning. And it was delivered predominantly through lectures. We also got the chance to work a lot with professionals I the field, so a couple of lectures and a couple of modules in fact were delivered by people working in the field that came and spoke to us which was really valuable to get that direct experience.

What really attracted me to Birmingham was I applied for a range of town planning courses, and it was when I went for the open day and the lecturers were so welcoming, so inviting, they were very passionate about their subject and it just really invited me in, and I thought it felt like the right fit really. And also the campus I thought was incredible – I was really amazed by that when I visited, how beautiful it was and how green. And so yeah, it just felt like the right fit.

The course has really prepared me for the job. It combined a lot of practical lessons with a lot of theory. I've been able to apply that theory in my job.  Another thing that was really valuable was the broad range of modules I was able to do which has really helped to give a broad perspective to my job in ARUP which does involved a different range of planning projects.

I would definitely recommend the University if Birmingham and the course that I did. The course was brilliant in terms of the balance between theory and practical experience, and I really just enjoyed all the support that I had on my course, all the other people who I was studying with who were passionate about the subject. So I would definitely recommend it.

I really valued during my time at Birmingham the approach that the lecturers had to the course, how open and friendly and passionate they were about the subject, and I particularly liked the open door policy and being able to talk to my lecturer about things relating to the course, but also he gave me some great career advice when I was trying to decide which job to go for which was really valuable.

I think with the town planning you need to be passionate about the subject.  It’s quite a niche course. It’s accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute so it is an obvious career-ended focus for it, so anyone who is looking for a career in town planning it’s fantastic for that, and a passion about the built environment. If you’ve done previously geography or economics or a range of subjects that can be applicable to it because it is such a broad course and it covers a lot of interests.

The course does involve some fieldwork. There's a field trip to Rotterdam just after the second term which is a fantastic experience to go visit the city and see what Rotterdam’s doing in terms of innovative regeneration projects.

If you’d like to know anything more about the Urban and Regional Planning course or studying at the University of Birmingham, please contact me on the PG mentor page.