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Asunto:[CeHuNews] 241/03 - Studying at Belfast
Fecha:Viernes, 17 de Octubre, 2003  19:55:28 (-0300)
Autor:Humboldt <humboldt>

CeHuNews 241/03





1.  Awarding Institution/Body             Queen's University of Belfast


2.  Teaching Institution                       School of Environmental Planning

                                                           Faculty of Engineering

                                                           The Queen's University Belfast



3.  Programme Accredited By            The Royal Town Planning Institute

                                                           The Irish Planning Institute



4.  Final Award                                              MSc.



5.  Programme Title                           MSc. Town and Country Planning



6.       UCAS Code



7.       QAA Benchmarking Group(s)        Town and Country Planning



8.  Main Educational Outcomes:


  • Development of an understanding of the nature, purpose, methods and practice of spatial planning. This includes knowledge about the political, legal and institutional context of planning, its impact on individuals and communities and the techniques of policy and plan-making;


  • Understanding of processes of environmental change and the relationships between the social, economic and physical factors associated with the development of the built and natural environment;


  • Development of and practice of key-planning related skills, including an ability to manage development, the production of strategies, policies and plans and the communication of planning-related information;


  • Provision of opportunities to practice and strengthen competencies in key skills such as numeracy, literacy, use of ICT, problem solving and team work;


  • Development of an awareness of the value dimension of planning and the ethical responsibilities of planners;


  •  Extending the ability to undertake a substantial piece of independent research.



9.  Intended Learning Outcomes

In accordance with the general aims indicated above, specific learning outcomes have been set for each module and each Stage. Both Stages include the development of key and planning related skills, with specific intended learning outcomes for each Stage being:


By the end of Stage 1(Level 7):


  • Students should have developed and applied an understanding of the built environment, its design and construction;


  • Students should have developed and applied an understanding of the social and economic systems which interact to influence the nature of the environment and the general aims of planning;


  • Students should have acquired and applied an understanding of planning administration and of the wider political and administrative systems within which it operates;


  • Students should have acquired knowledge and abilities in the theory and techniques of planning, the means of both controlling and promoting development and the mediation of environmental change.


By the end of Stage 2 (Level 8):


  • Students should have developed competencies related to the application of planning and environmental legislation;


  • Students should have developed abilities in advanced individual and group projects in specialised areas of planning concern;


  • Students should have developed and applied understanding of sustainable development issues and a sociologically informed appreciation of social issues in planning;


  • Students should have experience of working with the range of stakeholders and applying problem-solving skills in real contemporary planning situations.


  • Students should have developed their competences in research techniques and personal study.



10.   Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods


The teaching methods employed in the course include lectures, seminars, tutorials, project work, field study visits and one-to-one supervision of dissertations. The overall strategy of the School is to make available to postgraduate students a range of integrated lecture and practical assignment-based courses that provide a wide variety of learning situations. A central feature is the employment of ‘real-world’ assignments, which build upon lecture inputs and increase in complexity as the course progresses. At postgraduate level the assignments are built upon the range of skills already acquired by students and focus upon their application in a planning context.


Stage 1 (Level 7), is seen as an introductory stage for postgraduate entrants to the School. The curriculum covers inter alia much of the lecture syllabus for the last undergraduate year, (Level 3) of the BSc. Course, whilst project-based assignments are designed specifically to build up both generic skills and a background knowledge of planning. In relation to joint courses, individual module numbers for each student group together with anonymous marking systems ensures separate monitoring and assessment.


The need to develop oral presentation skills receives considerable attention, principally as a regular component of project work. All students are involved in group presentations for major projects at postgraduate level. Tutorial periods are attached to lecture courses in accordance with School policy, while seminars and review sessions associated with practical exercises – due to locality and topicality – often give rise to more committed levels of debate.


Considerable emphasis is placed on the development of research and personal work skills in the completion of the MSc. thesis at Level 8. These are supported by modules on ‘Planning Research and Practice’ and ‘Planning Theory’ from which students derive their conceptual framework. These attributes are also applied in ‘Specialised Studies’ in Stage 2 (Level 8), which permit in-depth studies in topics of current relevance to planning practice.   


Throughout the postgraduate course there is an emphasis on mixed mode assessment involving students in a combination of formal examinations, take-home papers, essays, small group project submissions and peer assessment. The learning objectives and assessment criteria are set out on all module handouts and penalties for late submissions are indicated in the school’s Assessment policy (see This also  notes that staff will aim to provide feedback within two working weeks of all submission.



11.     Programme Structure, Levels, Modules and Credits

Module Code


CAT Credit



Stage 1 (Level 7)


Environmental Design (i)





Applied Planning Practice and Procedure





Planning Theory and Philosophy





Political and Institutional Context of Planning





Environmental Design (ii)





Applied Research Methods





Development of Place










Development Plan and Development Control





International Planning Studies



110EVP709 or


Stage 2 (Level 8)


Urban Planning and Management





Planning and Environmental Law





Local Environmental Management





Integrated Community Planning





Rural Planning and Management





Regeneration and Renewal





Specialised Study II



110EVP201 or 110EVP703


M.Sc. Thesis






12.   Awards, Credits and Progression of Learning Outcomes


·         An equivalent of 15 modules, as specified above, are required for the Masters in Town and Country Planning (see also the School Policy on Students Progress and Monitoring,


·         All modules must be passed, with a minimum of 40% and an average of at least 50%. Students that fail to achieve the pass mark for the M.Sc. but do satisfy the pass mark for the PG Diploma, may transfer to the Diploma at the discretion of the Board of Examiners, who may require that additional or alternative modules are taken.


·         The Board of Examiners may also award a M.Sc. in Town and Country Planning “with distinction” where a student has achieved an average of 70% or over.



13.   Support for Students and their Learning


·         Separate induction sessions by Course Leaders and relevant Year Co-ordinators follow the general induction provided at University level. The School also has a residential induction course for Stage 1 entrants.


·         An extensive description of support systems, staff roles, School policy and other information on academic matters is available to students on the School’s website


·         Students are encouraged to contact individual Module co-ordinators about matters relating to the delivery of modules.


·         Students are made aware that issues relating to their Stage can be discussed with Year  co-ordinators.


·         All students have access to all staff through a system of designated consultation hours and e-mail access. Each member of staff offers at least two periods of two hours consultation per week.


·         Careers guidance is available to all students through the School’s Careers Adviser and the University Careers Service. Specific short courses on Careers are provided at Stage 2.


·         The Adviser of Studies is responsible for 'students at risk'; i.e. those students who are experiencing problems with their studies or who have personal problems that are impacting on their academic performance. In addition, the Adviser of Studies can advise about overall academic performance and has a general pastoral role.


·         Students have access to all University Libraries, including the Architecture and Planning Information Service (APIS). There is a specific page on the library’s web site offering guidance to students in the School of Environmental Planning (see


·         All students have access to the Queen's Online system which offers:


-          Bulletins regarding the progress of a module and pathway;

-          E-mail communication with staff;

-          Access to learning and teaching materials (lecture and tutorial outlines, reading lists, web resources and other course materials);

-          Opportunities for online discussions with other students, including PG Diploma students.


·         Students have access to bank of computers (some with Internet access) within their studio. The School's Computer Programmer supports this service through small group tuition and workshops.


·         The Staff-Student Consultative Committee (which is composed of elected student representatives from each Stage and all staff) provides a forum for consultation and discussion between staff and the student body. The SCC meets once every semester. The School’s policy on the SCC can be viewed at


·         Students are encouraged to complete feedback forms for all modules and main lecturing staff. The results of the feedback is presented and discussed at Module and Pathway Review meetings (see below).


·         Module and Pathway Reviews are undertaken at the end of each Semester. The review panel is composed of all staff that teach at that level, the SCC representatives and any other interested student. The School’s policy on the Module and Pathway review can be viewed at


·         All students have access to a comprehensive range of University facilities including; University Health and Counselling Services, Students' Union, Student Support Services, University Harassment Advisers.



14.  Criteria for Admission to Programme


Admission to the two year Masters requires a Second Class honours degree in a broad range of related subject (e.g. geography, economics, law, estate management) or equivalent qualification or experience.




14.   Evaluating & Improving the Quality & Standard of Learning & Teaching


There are a number of structures and systems in place to evaluate and improve the quality and standard of learning and teaching within the School of Environmental Planning, detailed in the School Policy on Evaluation. The School endeavours to continually reflect and improve on the standard of teaching and does so via:


·         Students are offered the opportunity to review the performance of individual lecturers and teachers in lectures, projects and tutorials. These are completed anonymously and the results are discussed as part of the Module Review.

·         Module and Programme Reviews are undertaken according the School Policy, at the end of each Semester.

·         The School undergoes an internal University Subject Review every five years to ensure quality in School’s learning and teaching.

·         The School’s Learning and Teaching Committee meets regularly to review the course programme and to address any problems related to learning and teaching.

·         The University’s Staff appraisal system, includes performance in matters related to learning and teaching.

·         Staff attend a range of teaching-related training events.

·         The School encourages membership of the Institute of Learning and Teaching.

·         An employers’ panel meets annually to advise the school about the needs of professional practice. The outcomes of these discussions are fed into the programme review process.

·         External Examiners report annually on the quality and consistency of teaching and assessment processes.

·         The RTPI and IPI Accreditation Boards review the Programme every five years to ensure conformity to the Institute’s Education Guidelines.



16. Indicators of Quality Relating to Teaching and Learning


Learning and teaching within the School was reviewed by external assessors in the 1997 HEFCE Teaching Assessment Exercise and was awarded 22 points out of a total of 24. The School will be subject to a USR visit in March 2004.



17. Statistical Indicators


The School’s Postgraduate Planning courses are some of the most popular in the UK. In the 2002/03 Academic Year there were 86 applications for the PG Diploma/Masters and 76 offers were made, with 38 full time students joining the course.  The same year, 26 graduated with a PG Diploma (23 with Merit and 3 at a pass) and 23 with a Masters degree.