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Planning and Sustainability MA

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 days a week
  • September 2015

Choose Kingston's Planning and Sustainability MA

If you would like to specialise in planning and land development but your interests extend beyond issues of profitability, risk and return to include the wellbeing of communities and issues of sustainability, then this course is ideal. It is designed to integrate the theory and practice of spatial or town and country planning with the growing pressures for urban and rural developments to meet community needs and sustainable criteria.

The course is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) for 2014 entry. Find out more.

What will you study?

The course is split between taught and research modules. In the taught section, you will be introduced to the concepts of sustainability, regeneration and urban design, and will gain an understanding of the legal and institutional frameworks, including policy governing planning and development. You will also discover how urban environments can be planned and developed to meet sustainable criteria. The research element of the curriculum comprises training in research methods, the preparation and presentation of a conference paper, and a dissertation or masters project.


Essays, seminar papers, reports, plans and presentations, case studies, major research-based project or dissertation, conference paper presented at the annual student masters conference.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.


  • This module is an essential ingredient in the study of spatial planning and its associated decision making processes for development to proceed in the UK. There is an expectation that the legal framework, including European provisions and any pending changes providing for the implementation of the system, is critically applied and evaluated. Land and property development is closely linked with all aspects of planning so the module also enables students to understand the development process in detail from the viewpoint of developers such that they can facilitate development effectively. The way in which funding packages, development economics and the macroeconomic environment can influence development and planning, including sustainability issues, is explored by the use of case studies and practical examples, possibly involving a site visit. From the planning perspective, a practical application of decision making is delivered through the reflective evaluation of planning issues for a local case study in a written statement and the implementation of the main processes involved in a public inquiry through role play.

  • Urban design has become an integral part of the spatial planning system in the UK. This module aims to develop your awareness and appreciation of place making, particularly in the European context.

    Assessment involves individual as well as team work, with reference to both theory and practice. You must:

    • produce a critical appraisal of the impact of planning theories; and
    • apply the principles of urban design to the production of a design scheme for a real life scenario.
  • The majority of the world's population live in cities: a critical appreciation of their nature – past, present and sustainable future – is essential for those concerned with the built environment. The constant regeneration of cities can only be achieved by integrating well-rounded strategies that encompass the complex socio-economic systems that inhabit and create the urban environment. This module provides debate on the theoretical concepts of the City: urban, suburban and rural spatial planning contexts. It enables the evaluation and critique of the criteria which govern the evolution of future sustainable communities.

  • This module aims to introduce students to the key principles of sustainability, adopting the three pillars of balancing social needs and justice, seeking economic prosperity and environmental responsibility.

    Through examination of the main theories and contentions under each head as applied to the built environment, students engage with debates as to the application of theory to professional behaviours, knowledge and ethics.

    Through this they explore the adequacy or otherwise of policy responses in order to arrive at their own stance in relation to sustainability. The module is taught through a series of inter-active lectures and seminars and assessed through an essay, a synoptic paper and a group report.

  • This module aims to provide you with a sound grounding in research principles and methodologies that are commonly applied within the built environment. Throughout a series of lectures and seminars, supported by tutorials and exercises you are encouraged and enabled to develop your critical reasoning powers and to gain practice in researching ideas and knowledge and in the design of relevant research instruments. By the end of the module you should be confident to and capable of designing and self-initiating a significant individual piece of research relevant to your programme of study. Assessment of the module is through the execution of a literature review, a short research collection and analysis activity and the design of a research project.

  • This module provides the opportunity for you to undertake a piece of original work related to your own area of study, which acts as the 'capstone' project for their studies. Through investigation of an area related to your studies they will develop a theoretically informed body of work that integrates both theory and practice. It may take the form of a dissertation, a practice project, design or experiment-based project depending on the appropriateness related to the programme studied. The module is supported by a series of lectures and individual tutorials. Following the major submission students present and defend their findings in open forum at a Masters Students Conference, thereby providing them to practice skills that they will require in their subsequent professional work. Assessment is by the main submission and the oral presentation and defence.


You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

For further information:

Postgraduate admissions administrator
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 4646
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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road and Knights Park

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