Town Planning MSc

Postgraduate ( full-time, part-time)


January, September

Full-time - January start, 15 months. September start, 12 months.

Part-time - January start, 33 months. September start, 28 months.

Degree Apprenticeship route available


Our Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) accredited course will provide you with comprehensive training and practical experience for a rewarding career in urban and suburban planning.

Read more about MSc Town Planning


We take pride in giving our graduates a great start as highly-qualified urban and suburban planners, whose knowledge and experience are well matched to the current needs of the industry. You’re also in the perfect position to continue your academic career and move up to our Built Environment PhD or Professional Doctorate.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • You'll be introduced to the central concepts which define contemporary practice and research in spatial planning, encouraging you to develop a conceptual framework to underpin the purposes and nature of spatial planning. The social, economic, political and environmental contexts for planning, including their theoretical approaches, are studied through a series of cross-cutting concepts drawing on the multi-disciplinary foundations; this is developed into an exploration of theories of planning and the nature of planning as a process and as a profession.
  • The module is designed to introduce you to the core aspects of planning activity and assist in the development of a critical and practical understanding of the contextual and conceptual framework within which spatial planning operates in urban and rural contexts. The purpose and nature of spatial planning is debated, including its origins in the European Community, contemporary changes, and its application across and within the UK and abroad.
  • You'll explore ways in which strategic plans and development frameworks can be transformed into a sustainable reality. Developing an understanding of the legal, regulatory and policy framework governing land and property development in the UK, development management and appeals, environmental assessment, financial appraisal, regeneration practices, partnerships, community empowerment, equality and diversity objectives.
  • You'll focus on the social and political context for planning in the UK, including planning as a construct of the prevailing social, economic and governmental extant policies that define planning; you'll unpick the relationship between planning and society. Social and political contexts are discussed in detail and their impact upon the nature of planning as a process and as a profession is explored.
  • Gain an understanding of the inseparable nature of the place and its context, a 'sense of place', and how this affects the design of new buildings and place-making that contribute to the built environment. You’ll study the primary elements that form the physical environment in its historic, present and future context, together with the relative legal and planning constraints that affect the built environment. You’ll survey, study, investigate and evaluate a real urban site, and develop the ability to analyse and evaluate elements of townscape, in particular the design elements that contribute to urban form and place shaping. You’ll examine planning policy and guidance, and design procedures and processes. You’ll develop a design brief for a selected site, proposing a new scheme and placing it within the context of the existing townscape. Finally, you’ll improve your drawing and sketching skills to enhance your understanding of the place, spaces between buildings, and the urban environment.
  • Here, you will look at wider developments in environmental protection and how these affect construction, as well as how construction affects them. You will also examine the demands that greater environmental awareness places on the built environment.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the theories and methods of research and research design and develop a theoretical and practical foundation in research for your major project/dissertation. You will get an understanding of a range of approaches to research, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods, together with an understanding of a number of specific research methods. You will develop your knowledge of research design in order to critically consider the design for your research project, including preparing your proposal and considering ethics and ethical issues. You will develop a theoretical and practical foundation from which to develop your Masters Level Major Project/Dissertation.
  • You'll consider the development of housing and the relationship between this and planning, developing the ability to critically analyse planning policy and practice, together with the consideration of new policies for housing. You'll develop a good knowledge and understanding of the constraints, goals, methods and procedures of planning and housing professionals.
  • The Major Project or Dissertation module represents the culmination of learning on the MSc Urban Design MSc Town Planning course, and provides an opportunity for you to develop and resolve an area of critical enquiry. This module will support you in the preparation and submission of a Master's stage Artefact or Dissertation, in an area that is of interest, and relevant to the course. This is a self-directed research project negotiated with course staff, where you’ll have the choice of negotiating, managing, coordinating and bringing to successful conclusion a critically engaged and complex, major project artefact or dissertation within the related fields of urban design or town planning theory and practice. You’ll begin the module by formally presenting your artefact research proposal / project brief to staff and peers, building on the research design and methods module having identified a complex area for investigation and enquiry, along with research methods appropriate to the study or project. Following negotiation with staff, peers, and where appropriate outside agencies, any refinement needed to your research proposal is presented. You’ll demonstrate the ability to apply theory, integrate solutions, think strategically and be sensitive to changing environmental, cultural and social climates. Each project brief is unique and can originate from a variety of sources; you’ll need to consider urban design and planning issues, and the relationship of your proposal to urban design / town planning theory and wider sustainability debates. Socioeconomic and environmental responsibility are key in relation to urban design and planning, you’ll need to synthesise the aesthetic and technical aspects of urban design or planning - demonstrating the development of these through your research informed study or proposal. To complete this module successfully you must demonstrate confident familiarity with literature in the field, detailed knowledge of methods, analyses and/or appropriate application of design / planning processes and the mechanisms involved in realising / enabling built form. It will involve group and individual tutorial dialogue considering relevant approaches, methodologies and potential project solutions.


We’ll assess your progress in a number of ways, including coursework, presentations, group work and workshops, examination and a research-based dissertation.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Engineering is one of the largest of the four faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full-time or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate.

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science, technology and engineering fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK students starting 2023/24 (full-time, per year)


UK students starting 2023/24 (part-time, per year)


International students starting 2023/24 (full-time, per year)


International students starting 2023/24 (part-time, per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

Additional costs

General stationery and printing for reports, A3 portfolio pad, model-making materials - £120
Student contribution to subsidised field trip to a European city - £200

How do I pay my fees?

UK students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us. Find out more about paying your fees.

International students

You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Funding for postgraduate students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our finance guide for postgraduate students to learn more about postgraduate loans and other funding options.

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships and bursaries, which provide extra financial support while you're at university. These include an Alumni Scholarship, worth 20% off fees for ARU graduates.

International students

As well as a number of scholarships, we offer an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Teaching at ARU

We offer face-to-face campus teaching (with the exception of Distance Learning courses), supported by our established online learning systems, which provide additional support for individual study and engagement. The number of contact hours varies course by course, and you can contact us for further information.

In the event that there are restrictions that are put into place due to the pandemic by the government - we will endeavour to retain face to face teaching as much as possible but will respond accordingly to the restrictions placed on the University.

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements.

Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course; please email for further information. Applicants to undergraduate courses can also check our information about undergraduate entry qualifications.

You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting a course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Check the section 'Standard entry requirements' for IELTS requirements for this course.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

Get more information

UK applicants

01245 686868

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 683680

Enquire online