MSc Spatial Planning and Research

Course overview

Similar to its sister programme (the MSc Spatial Planning and Development), this programme prepares students for a career in planning and development, but is orientated more towards developing research skills and understandings.

This programme focuses on planning as it engages with economic and property development processes, from the local to the global level. The structure of the programme allows students to undertake in-depth study in this area and develop a good understanding of research technique and deconstruction. The vibrant learning environment provides opportunities to go on field trips, engage with local communities and work with industry partners. 

NB: This programme was previously known as the MSc Development Planning and Research.

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If you have any questions, please contact us by email at or by phone on +44 (0) 118 378 7593.

How we teach you

Our programmes are designed and delivered by internationally-renowned experts, with a wealth of academic and professional experience. All of our programmes are regularly updated to maintain their relevance in a rapidly changing industry.

Our teaching received an excellent score in the most recent independent Teaching Quality Assessment (TQA), highlighting our commitment to maintaining a world-class learning environment. You will enjoy access to our cutting-edge research, ensuring that you remain at the forefront of the field.

We believe that our students should have access to good quality resources and, in addition to the facilities offered by the University, we fund a professionally staffed Resource Centre.

We aim to create a stimulating academic environment; you will be encouraged to develop individual interests and general skills as a basis for a career in the property industry, a related field or for further study.

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If you have any questions, please contact us by email at or by phone on +44 (0) 118 378 7593.

How to apply

Apply for 2017 entry now

There are two different application processes: apply online and apply by post.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for Postgraduate study at Henley Business School, at the University of Reading is through the University’s online application service.

This allows you to complete your application information, attach electronic copies of your academic transcripts, certificates and other supporting information and also provides a facility for an email request to be sent to your referees enabling them to send your supporting references directly to us.

Apply online

Apply online now using the University of Reading's online application system.

Apply by post

If you are unable to apply online you can request a paper application form by telephoning +44(0) 118 378 5289 or writing to the Admissions Office, University of Reading, Miller Building, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AB, UK.

When to apply

We operate a rolling admissions system and it is recommended that you apply early to secure your place. There is no specific deadline and applications will be considered until the programme is full. However, to allow time for us to process your application we recommend that you apply by the following dates for admission in October:

  • UK/EU applicants: by 1 August
  • International applicants: by 1 June

After you apply

You will receive a confirmation email when we receive your application form. Your application is then reviewed by a member of staff.  Successful applicants will receive a formal offer letter outlining any necessary entry cri­teria you will need to meet and you will be asked to confirm your acceptance of this offer.

A (non refundable) deposit of between £500 and £1,000 (depending on the programme you have applied for) is payable upon acceptance of an offer of a place. International applicants requiring a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for a visa will be sent the CAS details by email once all conditions of the offer have been met, and the relevant deposit has been paid.

Throughout the admissions process we will keep you updated with key information via email.   We also provide opportunities to interact with faculty and staff online.

You can find us on Facebook and keep up-to-date with news and events in the School or ask us a question. In addition, you can speak to a current student; our students and alumni are always happy to share their Henley experience.

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If you have any questions, please contact us by email at or by phone on +44 (0) 118 378 7593.

Meet us

If you are unable to attend a postgraduate event please get in touch with our team.  We will be happy to speak to you by telephone, on Skype or through our Live Chat system (during UK office hours: 9 - 5 pm).

Our contact details are: or telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 7593.

Please see our full list of world fairs where you can meet a Henley representative. 




Contact image

If you have any questions, please contact us by email at or by phone on +44 (0) 118 378 7593.

Contact image

If you have any questions, please contact us by email at or by phone on +44 (0) 118 378 7593.

Why Henley?

Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time

Starts: September

Entry requirements: A good (normally upper second class honours) undergraduate degree in any cognate or non-cognate discipline.


The MSc Spatial Planning and Research is recognised in the UK and more widely, to be one of the foremost planning programmes which develops both spatial planning competencies but also market aware planners who are well prepared for the orchestration and negotiation of development schemes. The programme has strong appeal for future employers in the private and public sectors because of the blend of analytical rigour and practical application. Many graduates of this programme, and its forerunners, have progressed to senior positions in the real estate and planning sector.

Real Estate & Planning:

Our School is the largest in the UK for teaching and research in real estate and planning. Established in 1968 at the University of Reading, we are the only major UK real estate and planning centre to be located within a business school.  Being part of the Henley Business School reflects our close and longstanding collaborative relationship with industry.

We enjoy a worldwide reputation for excellence in both teaching and research and we are consistently highly ranked in all major league tables. We undertake internationally recognised, leading edge research into real estate, planning and land and we offer a comprehensive range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses, all of which are accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Our planning courses are also fully accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Our programmes are held in high regard by leading employers, many of whom come to us each year to recruit our graduates. We are proud of our outstanding employment record, with more than 95% of our students entering graduate level jobs within 6 months of leaving us.

Henley Business School:

Consistently maintain highest standards: Henley is in top 1% of business schools worldwide to hold accreditation from all three bodies in the UK, Europe and US

Excellent networking potential : 72,000 Henley alumni members in 150 countries

High calibre students: always oversubscribed, 1,000 ambitious new Masters students join Henley each year

Award winning campus: beautiful, green, 134 hectares, with state of the art facilities

World-leading faculty: widely published, frequently asked for expert comment by media and to speak at events

Henley is proud to be part of the University of Reading.  The University is ranked within the top 200 universities worldwide (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016/17 and QS World University Rankings 2018) and 98% of the research is rated as being of international standard.

Course modules

Module descriptions are correct for modules taught in the academic year 2017/18. Optional module listings are indicative, and may be subject to change.

Module Name Credits


Compulsory Modules

This module aims to develop the student’s understanding of the philosophical ideas and theoretical debates that influence planning intervention. It explores how theory can be used to analyse issues and problems relevant to planning practice. The module provides a historic overview of town planning and examines the rationales for, and against, intervention and the social, cultural, political and economic factors that underpin them.

  • Historical drivers of modern planning
  • Past practices and underpinning theory
  • Politics of planning
  • Networks and planning
  • Complexity and spatial planning
  • Collaborative planning theory and practices

20 [10 ECTS credits]

The module aims to provide students with an understanding of: the nature of the development process including the activities, agencies, events, relationships, skills and tasks involved; the factors which influence the process and its outcomes; and the types, characteristics utility and quality of buildings and schemes. The module also explores the methodologies involved in the appraisal of development projects as well as the legal underpinning of the UK planning system.

  • Development process and activity
  • Development appraisal and finance
  • Planning law

20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module aims to provide students with a solid foundation in real estate economics in order to provide insights into the application of economic principles and models in respect of property and land use. Both commercial and residential real estate markets will be considered, as well as the effects of public policy on these markets.

  • Models of urban land use
  • Location theory
  • Economic analysis of the commercial real estate market
  • The user, investor and development markets
  • Economic analysis of residential real estate markets
  • Economics of town planning
  • The impact of public policy on real estate markets



20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module aims toprovide students with an understanding of the nature, role and contemporary relevance of sustainable urban design and development. It aims to promote awareness of, and sensitivity to urban design, and strategic and local planning issues with implications for natural resource management and the distribution of environmental assets.

  • Origins of sustainability and urban design practice
  • Sustainability and urban design principles, and its meaning in our everyday lives
  • Policy guidance and delivery of sustainable development, and its enforcement
  • Monitoring and evaluation through sustainability appraisal and design audit

20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module aims to integrate the knowledge and skills fostered across the programme through a practical yet reflective series of projects.  Focusing on various themes, the projects incorporate individual and group work, and combine study, presentation and role-play. Some project tasks relate to field visits, while others focus on planning and development processes. The module integrates practical skills, key concepts and creative thinking, all essential for professional life.

  • Negotiation and development project – involving role-play between student groups as different stakeholders, learning the theory and practice of negotiating development schemes
  • Development management task – requiring students to prepare a brief for a client or to assess an application for a site
  • Site-planning and design project – based in an urban context
  • European field trip – a one-week overseas study trip with a reflective learning journal

30 [15 ECTS credits]

This module aims to develop students’ research and analytical skills, as well as their understanding of the research methods typically found in the social sciences. The module will include qualitative and quantitative approaches to research. Students will develop and consolidate core skills in research methods and techniques and begin to develop specialised research skills in relevant areas.

  • Introduction to social sciences research philosophies
  • Overview of qualitative research methods
  • Overview of quantitative research methods
  • Preparation for independent research
  • Guidance on research design
  • Practical workshops linked to applied research techniques

10 [5 ECTS credits]

The module aims to develop students’ research and analytic skills and prepare them for their independent study or dissertation research. They will  develop specialised research skills and understanding of research methodologies in relevant areas. Students will develop skills in evaluating research, writing a literature review, designing a research proposal and considering the ethical implications of the proposed study.

  • Identifying a research topic
  • Styling a research argument and selecting sources;
  • Managing research;
  • Considering research ethics and plagiarism; and
  • Delivering on research impact

10 [5 ECTS credits]

This module provides a vehicle for an in-depth understanding of a chosen area of planning practice.  Students will be required to select a relevant topic or issue for further research and analysis. They also will be required to display academic rigour in carrying out their research, in presenting findings, and in producing a high quality, fully referenced dissertation that is supported by appropriate statistical, qualitative and illustrative data.

  • Introductory tutorials with the Dissertation Co-ordinator;
  • Research Methods lectures, workshops and tutorials;
  • Preparation of research proposal and methodology;
  • Submission of research proposal/allocation of supervisor;
  • Main empirical work on dissertation;
  • Tutorials with supervisor; and
  • Submission of final dissertation (early-September)

30 [15 ECTS credits]

Optional Modules

This module aims to examine current countryside issues and policies, with an emphasis on planning in England and Wales. The context for the module is the changing economic and social drivers in the countryside. The module links with other modules in enabling students to understand the UK planning system but placing standard institutional arrangements and structures in a rural context.


20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module will enable students to:

  • develop an understanding of the structures and processes in different national housing systems
  • understand the consumer experience of housing and the factors that influence this, such as house quality, tenure rights and obligations, and neighbourhood amenities
  • analyse major policy issues and identify different options to deal with particular issues
  • understand the housing production process and the factors that influence its outcomes


  • Welfare regimes, the role of the state, divergence and convergence, the state and housing markets, constructing a housing market and market institutions
  • Housing tenures ­– rights and obligations, house and home, housing quality, housing and health
  • Neighbourhood and community, inequality and segregation, mixed communities
  • Housing renewal, slums and shanty towns
  • Low income housing – different forms of intervention and their impact
  • Managing social housing
  • Homelessness

20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module provides both a sophisticated theoretical understanding and overview of key challenges and trends in the delivery of urban regeneration and planning. It focusses on the relationship between the economic, social and political forces shaping urban regeneration policy and practice. Students will be expected to engage with relevant literatures and theoretical concepts in a critical way. A key focus of the module is to allow students to explore the assumptions, models, policies and practices of urban regeneration.


20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module aims to prepare students for leadership roles in strategic planning. During this module, students will analyse how strategic planning has developed in the UK, its underpinning concepts and the ways in which strategies have been prepared in relation to their operating environment. Students will consider the conceptual and practical challenges faced in applying strategic planning principles and the possible future for strategic planning.

  • Strategic planning in a global context
  • UK planning – from regionalism to localism
  • The economics behind UK localism  
  • Understanding functional economic areas
  • Planning functional ‘mega-city regions’
  • The European strategic planning context – territorial cohesion

20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module aims to compare planning practices and systems worldwide and draw lessons from such comparisons. Understanding the different contexts, techniques and impacts of planning deepens awareness of differences in planning cultures. Students will gain an appreciation of the ways in which planning is accomplished and the advantages and problems associated with each system set in its political, economic and social context.

  • Theory and practice of comparative studies
  • Drawing lessons from comparative studies
  • Planning systems in different countries
  • Themes, tools and techniques

20 [10 ECTS credits]


The module aims to review the justifications for and the basis of state involvement in the housing market and describe and evaluate the main policy mechanisms used such as regulation of private renting or the provision of social housing. The module aims to provide students with the tools to assess housing problems and policies.  The module will use the theory and practice of housing economics to study housing markets in a dynamic context, with emphasis placed on demand-side and supply-side drivers. The role of finance in the housing market will be explored as will the impact of regulation. The roles of market search, estate agents, developers and financial institutions will be considered from an economic perspective and the links between the housing market, the macro-economy and business cycles will be investigated. The merits and demerits of the various methodologies to derive house price indices will be analysed. Empirical analysis will be undertaken in appropriate sections.


20 [10 ECTS credits]

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Fees and funding

Full time Fees:

Home (UK/EU) Overseas (non EU) 
£9,200 £15,600

Part time Fees:

Home (UK/EU) Overseas (non EU) 
£5,060 per year £8,580 per year

Alumni of the University of Reading who undertake their next level of study at Henley Business School will receive a tuition fee discount of £1000.

Henley Business School is pleased to announce that a loan is available through Santander to assist Henley Business School programme members with funding across our portfolio of part-time programmes, including postgraduate courses. Participants who are studying whilst continuing employment now have the opportunity to borrow up to £20,000 to help towards their course fees. Rates from 4.3% APR on loans from £7,500 to £15,000. See the Santander Loan document for terms and more detail.

For more information please contact Edward Willoughby on 05511486340 or email.

(UK applicants only)

Applicants who normally live in the UK (for a minimum of three years) can apply for a Professional and Career Development Loan to borrow between £300 and £10,000. This is a bank loan, with interest charged at a commercial fixed rate.

How to apply for a Career Development Loan

See Professional and Career Development Loans.

The University provides opportunities to students from a wide range of backgrounds, who have the desire and ability to succeed. There are a range of scholarships and bursaries on offer for postgraduate students. For further information see: Money matters, costs and budgets for postgraduate students.





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  • Then simply apply for a Masters Fund Scholarship at the internationally-renowned Henley Business School.
  • Chance to study at a top 1% internationally-recognised business school
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  • Our highest prize: the Prestigious Dean’s Scholarship: 100% fees paid Meet and dine with Henley’s senior management team.




Closing date

Closing date

Entry requirements

Planning Programmes

Entrants to these programmes are normally required to have obtained a good (normally upper second class honours) undergraduate degree in any cognate or non-cognate discipline.

Students whose first language is not English are required to provide evidence of proficiency. 

IELTS (British Council International English Language Test): Score of 7.0 overall with no component less than 6.0
Internet Based TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language):  Score of at least 100 with a minimum of 20 in Listening, Writing and Reading and 21 in Speaking.

2.1 degree, or equivalent, from an internationally recognised university;  not necessarily in a related discipline.

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Careers and accreditations

Our graduates have praised the University’s excellent links with industry and described the programme as being pivotal in helping them secure employment in their chosen fields.

The MSc Spatial Planning and Research is a popular programme, which combines practical learning and theory. As such, it has seen its graduates go on to work for a wide range of employers across both the private and public sectors, including planning consultancies, development companies, local planning authorities, large multidisciplinary property firms and others.

Students at a building siteReading has an excellent reputation with the planning profession in both the private and public sectors. Our postgraduates tend to be sought after by employers and many find employment before graduating.

Our alumni association, The Reading Real Estate Foundation, organise career development and recruitment events for our students throughout the year. These include an evening lectures series with key industry speakers, an annual Careers Fair and our highly successful Mentoring Programme which pairs students with professionals in the industry.

We have a professional Careers Development Advisor, Jane Batchelor, who helps our students with every aspect of the career development process, including identifying work placement, internships and permanent career opportunities.

Typical examples of recent employment found by our graduates are with planning consultancies such as: Nathaniel Lichfield Associates, Terence O'Rourke Partnership, RPS, DTZPieda. The bigger surveying firms with planning and development departments also recruit our students, for example: Drivers Jonas, Gerald Eve, GVA Grimley.

In the public sector there are varied options at the local, regional and national levels: government offices and departments, regional agencies and local planning authorities. The range and diversity of jobs and careers offered under the mantle of 'planning' is really very wide and stimulating. We will be happy to advise you in finding work experience and talk to you about your employment options during your time with us.

The MSc Spatial Planning and Research is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

What our students say

Our students come from a range of backgrounds and go on to work in both the public and private sectors in the UK and internationally. Read what some of our past students say about us:

"‘The University of Reading provided me with a platform of choices and I am now working for my chosen planning firm in London. My knowledge of Real Estate and Planning truly grew through postgraduate study. The decision to study at Reading, is one that I will now benefit from for years to come. I was a student motivated by my lecturers, always ahead within their field, and who embrace what they teach. The allowance for discussion in lectures and in turn the willingness of lecturers to give you their time encouraged us to question what we were learning rather than just absorb it. As a result, I am proud to say that I am now one of a network of REP graduates".

Enya McLiam-Roberts - Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying for the MSc Spatial Planning and Development Planning. The course gave me an interesting insight into both practical and theoretical aspects of planning which I have found to be very transferrable now that I am working. The fact that the course is dual-accredited has given me a wider appreciation of different aspects of planning and its relationship to the wider property industry. The optional modules allowed me to tailor the course to my personal interests. The field trip is a great opportunity to learn more about planning in a different country too. I found the support from the teaching and support staff extremely valuable throughout my time and thanks to them and the wider Reading reputation, I now have a great job that I enjoy!"

Sophie Stocker - CBRE

"Towards the end of my undergraduate studies I knew I wanted to further my property development knowledge and my decision to undertake a MSc in Development and Planning was strongly influenced by my desire to gain a breadth knowledge of the interrelating process of real estate development and town planning. 

When it came to deciding on the destination it came down to quality, reputation and location, something the University of Reading and Henley Business School have in spades. I did my research and Henley Business School stood out for consistently being ranked among the world’s best business schools and, more specifically, real estate schools. Personally an MSc in Development and Planning with its double accreditation by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) was extremely attractive.Most importantly however, it was Real Estate & Planning's close and longstanding relationship with the property industry, the fact it is highly regard by leading employers and its outstanding employment record that put it ahead of the competition. It was an easy decision at the end."

Saif Uddin - Balfour Beatty Investments