2021/22 Full-time Postgraduate course
Master of Science
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment
Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment
This course is taught online so you can study where you want, when you want.
A new and innovative course, MSc Planning and City Resilience produces leaders in planning for resilient, inclusive and healthy cities.
Discover the role of planning in providing innovative responses and opportunities for creating resilient places that can adapt to the impacts of social (e.g. demographic change), economic (e.g. enhancing city/region competitiveness), environmental (e.g. climate crisis) challenges. You will explore a range of topics that relate to building resilient cities across four cross-cutting themes: sustainable development, social and climate justice, inclusive planning and partnerships, and smart interventions.
The programme is delivered via a combination of lectures, workshops, and seminars alongside local and international field visits that use the city as a laboratory. You will benefit from research-led academic instruction from a multidisciplinary course team. In addition, you will learn from industry experts working in the public, private and NGO sectors and gain experience in how planning enhances city resilience, blending concepts and theories with real world problems and solutions.
As a graduate you will be in possession of an MSc degree recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), enabling you to develop your career as a chartered town planner. Graduates will have excellent career opportunities in planning and development agencies and consultancies, local authorities, regeneration, environmental management, community development, climate change mitigation and other planning related careers.
Become a leader of change in how to collectively co-design, plan and deliver a resilient future that creates sustainable cities and communities.
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This programme will be delivered fully online from September 2021.
The MSc Planning and City Resilience programme provides an inclusive online learning and teaching environment that is informed by cutting-edge research and delivered by a multi-disciplinary course team.
All modules will be delivered online.
Class sizes are kept small to ensure that students benefit from one-to-one support and tutorage. In addition, you will be allocated a dedicated Academic Mentor at the beginning of your studies who will provide studies advice and additional developmental support to help ensure you reach your full potential academically throughout the programme.
Modules are all 100% coursework. There are a maximum of two items of assessment in a module. An item may include more than one component, but the overall item will have a single mark. A range of assessment techniques are used to enable students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the course concepts and content, and their practical and transferable skills. These techniques include academic essays and research projects, reports, strategies and practice/policy submissions as well as oral presentations. Where possible, and appropriate, coursework assignments are aligned to a client and/or live project providing real opportunity to contribute to resilience-building policy and practice.
As a student you should expect to be given clear, explicit information and guidance on the assessment and understand how it will be marked. You will also be given timely and relevant individual or group feedback on all work allowing you to identify areas of weakness and feed forward into your learning.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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Interest in resilience is expanding as a direct response to the scale and intensity of contemporary issues facing cities, governments and societies. This module embraces a range of topics that relate to the conceptual and practical issues involved in building resilient cities and identifies a key role for planning in terms of strengthening the ability of society to prepare for, and respond to, anticipated impacts of contemporary social, economic, environmental challenges.
This module in international city planning and development has the primary objective of providing students with the knowledge necessary to critically analyse theory and practice in different international contexts. Cities are not globally homogeneous. It is therefore important for future planning practitioners to appreciate both the benefits and limitations of international policy transfer, as well as the social, economic and environmental drivers of city development.
This module considers the concept of spatial planning and how it has evolved across the devolved UK and the Republic of Ireland. In particular, the module identifies the contemporary debates surrounding the fluid conceptualisations of spatial planning, and articulates how planning nests within planning practice. The module will provide a learning platform to understand the role and interrelationships between stakeholders in structuring and shaping land use policy and how planning practice sits within a particular legal framework.
The relationship between health, well-being and the built environment requires practitioners to consider how planning and design processes influence the places where people live, work and socialise. This module provides students with an understanding of how planning policy and practices can play a crucial role in creating inclusive environments that enhance people's health and well-being, and help to diminish health inequalities.
This module introduces the student to the concept of sustainable development, how it has evolved and how it can be delivered and measured. It explores a range of economic, environmental and social challenges to determine how these overlap with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It provides for an appreciation of the policy and actions needed to stimulate government, corporate and individual change to help deliver the wide-ranging SDGs.
This module provides students with a broad understanding of research methods and techniques, and how these can be used to investigate a research problem in any context. Students will be provided with the necessary theoretical foundations in statistical research, including the ability to plan research ethically and conduct a literature review. Students will also be able to record, analyse, interpret and present qualitative and quantitative data appropriately.
This module is optional
Effective planning processes and co-production practices require meaningful stakeholder engagement that fosters equal and reciprocal relationships, and inspires new ideas to enable communities and cities to become more resilient. Drawing on both theory and practice, this module provides a deeper understanding of civic agency and participatory planning to inform future practitioners of the opportunities, challenges and benefits of inclusive engagement.
This module is optional
New models and motivations are emerging to co-design and improve public services that meet changing community needs, deliver well-being outcomes, produce collaborative gain and advance place-based resilience. This module provides students with an understanding of the evolving governance models associated with the (co-)design and (co-)delivery of public services that aim to enhance social, economic and environmental well-being outcomes.
This module is optional
This module examines a range of theoretical and practical issues surrounding leadership and change. Understanding, and appreciating, such issues and considering how best to use new knowledge will be essential for spatial planners in terms of enhancing city resilience in an inclusive way. The module is designed to prepare students to better manage their careers in the context of discontinuous change.
This module is optional
Students completing this module will have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the purpose, processes, principles and skills in the practice of environmental protection and sustainable technologies within the context of the sustainable development agenda. This includes protecting life on land and in water, taking action on climate change, and promoting responsible consumption and production. Students will develop critical skills in strategic planning, policy and intervention to achieve this.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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(a) have gained:
i. a second class honours degree or better from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard;
ii. an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification;
(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent).
In exceptional circumstances, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b), where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
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Global initiatives, such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, illustrate the growing need for practitioners – and graduates – with the skills necessary for progressing the resilience agenda. It is anticipated that demand for professional planners will continue to expand, nationally and internationally, due to rapid urbanisation, growing inequalities and the climate crisis. The technical and transferable skills gained through the modules will help prepare students for securing and maintaining employment within this ever changing context.
Accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the programme will provide a career development opportunity for both current planners (in public and private sector) with aspirations to work in the area of resilience, and those graduates from any undergraduate programme to transfer to the field of planning. The provision of optional modules provides flexibility to accommodate educational preferences and career progression interests/specialism.
Graduates will have excellent career opportunities in planning and development agencies and consultancies, local authorities, regeneration, environmental management, community development, climate change mitigation and other planning related careers.
Opportunities also exist within the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment for graduate to embark on PhD research in a wide range of planning and resilience topics.
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Fees illustrated are based on 21/22 entry and are subject to an annual increase.
Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply.
Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
MSc Planning and City Resilience is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a combined postgraduate programme. Students may be eligible to apply for the RTPI 'Future Planners' Bursary.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
Course Director: Dr Linda McElduff