Planning and Geography Undergraduate Programmes

Degree Page Tabs

For more than 40 years Cardiff School of Planning and Geography has built its reputation across the boundaries of urban planning and human geography. The School is one of the leading human geography schools in the UK, with a specialism in planning.

The School operates at the cutting-edge of research and teaching innovation in planning and geography, specialising in the following areas:

  • Spatial analysis, including Geographical Information Science
  • Urban and regional governance, including urban planning and economic geography
  • Environment, society and space, including rural geography and planning

Cardiff School of Planning and Geography brings to bear a critical mass in these areas and is thus able to contribute to a wide range of policy domains including spatial, land, urban and city planning.

Our courses focus upon the built and natural environment and the impacts of economic, social, political and cultural change. While geography provides the theoretical and analytical skills to understand both the nature of change and its impacts, planning translates this understanding into action to ensure a better quality of environment for present and future generations.

The School accepts around 150 undergraduates across four courses each year and therefore ensures a learning environment where there is opportunity for close contact with staff delivering the courses and modules. In total there are more than 450 students in the School studying at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels in Human Geography, Planning, Urban Design, Sustainability, Regeneration, and Transport.

The wide ranging and specialist expertise of the School’s 50 members of staff ensures that all aspects of Planning and Human Geography are covered in our courses. The quality of teaching in the School has been assessed as 'excellent' and it is the only planning school in the UK to have been consistently awarded the highest category of excellence in government reviews of research quality.

BSc Geography (Human) – See course details on Coursefinder

Human geography is an exciting and innovative discipline. Our students are provided with a comprehensive and critical understanding of the subject as well as opportunities to specialise in specific areas such as cultural, development and environmental geography.

Students benefit from the School’s emphasis on the application of human geography to real-world contexts, particularly to policy-makers and the public, and have the opportunity to learn how the discipline informs elected decision-makers, helps the voluntary sector, and seeks to improve civil society.

Aspects of Human Geography are studied in greater depth than most other geography schools, and with strong links to the University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, elements of physical geography are incorporated into students’ education as optional modules where appropriate. The School combines theoretical and conceptual approaches to the relations between space, place and environment with detailed empirical case studies of geography in action.

In the School we place a great emphasis on practical learning. To this end there are field study visits in each year of the undergraduate programme. In Year 1, these field study visits are local to the Cardiff city region. In Year 2, students enjoy a residential field study visit to a European city (currently Brussels). Both Year 1 and 2 trips are fee inclusive. In their final year, students can opt for a field study visit to a global city location. Students can currently choose from the following destinations: Hong Kong, Los Angeles, or Tanzania. These final year field study visits are subsided by the School (with a 33% student contribution).

Students starting this course in 2015 will study:
(This list is subject to change)

Year 1 Modules ...

The first year provides an introduction to the key dimensions of human geography, a showcase of the innovative approaches geography brings to contemporary issues, and a strong overview of urban and rural development issues. Through the Study Skills module, students will also develop the essential skills for studying human geography at degree level.

Our focus is on human geography, but we recognise that students may be interested in aspects of physical geography. Students are offered the option of studying one module in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, paving the way for further physical geography related options in years two and three.

You will study:

  • The Big Questions in Human Geography
    This module introduces students to the cutting edge debates occurring in the discipline in the twenty-first century. Delivered by experts from across the School, this module also acts as an introduction to sub-disciplines taught in years two and three.
  • Introducing Research Methods
    This module introduces students to the research methods used in human geography.
  • Study Skills
    This module is taught through small groups and introduces students to the writing, referencing and research skills required for university study. 

 Plus two option modules from:

  • Cities
    Cities examines the development of cities in both the global north and south, and explores how cities in different societies function.
  • The Countryside
    Introduces students to range of contemporary issues facing the countryside, critically examining how they can be understood and managed sustainably.
  • Earth and Planetary System Science (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences)
    This is an optional module and can be taken instead of Cities or The Countryside. It provides a research-led, holistic view of the Earth, the individual parts of the system and their interrelationships in terms of natural cycles, feedbacks and interconnected processes.

Year 2 Modules ...

The second year builds on the foundations provided in Year 1, looking in more depth at the history of geographical thought and the cultural, development, economic, political and social sub-fields of human geography. Additionally, the Citizen Geographies module includes the possibility of a work placement. The second year culminates in a Field Study Visit to a European city (currently Brussels)

You will study:

  • Geographical Ideas
    This module traces and critiques the development of geography from map making and exploration to contemporary cultural geography.
  • Developing Research Methods I + II
    Develops the practical understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods used in geographical research. 

Plus four option modules from:

Year 3 Modules ...

The third year explores the broader relevance of geography to policy and society in the Public Geographies module. This and the dissertation are compulsory. The third year then allows students to specialise in particular areas of Human Geography, with a broad choice of modules and field study visits. Students must choose four optional modules, of which one can be a Field Study Visit.

You will study:

  • Research Dissertation
    An independent research project with academic guidance.
  • Public Geographies
    This module critically debates how geographers can use their knowledge to bring about change by influencing a range of different 'publics' (e.g. policy makers, the media, industry, civic groups, citizens). 

Plus four option modules from:

  • Advanced Economic Geography
    The module connects students to the Economic Geography research in the school in order to understand contemporary issues in the global economy.
  • Cities and Social Justice
    Examines world cities and patterns of inequality formed through capitalism and globalisation.
  • Gender, Space and Place
    Critically explores the dynamic field of Feminist Geography: the key historical and contemporary issues in this field and the cutting-edge challenges.
  • Geographies of Consumption
    Addresses the development of new practices and spaces of consumption that characterise contemporary societies.
  • Geographies of Nature
    Assesses how human life is increasingly intertwined with non-human species and spaces.
  • Geographies of the Developing World
    Critically explores issues relating to the developing world such as child labour, slum housing, conflict and natural disasters.
  • Housing Inequalities: people, places and policies
    Explores the nature of housing inequalities in the UK, the impacts of such inequalities on people and places, and the role of public policy in responding to these issues
  • Mobilities: Transport, Communication and Representation
    Explores how globalisation creates new forms and flows of mobility, and critically assesses their consequences for everyday life.
  • Researching Contemporary Issues in Hong Kong
    Critically examines Hong Kong's evolution into a leading global city.
  • Researching Contemporary Issues in Los Angeles
    Critically examines the urban geography of Los Angeles, providing an insight into the lessons that can be learnt from this unique global city.
  • Researching Contemporary Issues in Tanzania
    Critically examines contemporary development challenges in Tanzania.
  • Global Climate Change (School of Earth and Ocean Sciences)


BSc Geography (Human) and Planning - See course details on Coursefinder

The School of Planning and Geography offers a unique opportunity to study a combination of human geography and planning, building on the combined expertise of academics based in the School.

Students develop a solid grasp of planning issues and processes and their geographical contexts, and an understanding of global, national and local processes of change, key environmental, social, cultural, political and economic trends and the role that planning plays in shaping their effects on different places. Geography and planning examines the changing nature of spaces and places, the relationship between society and space, and the roles of the state.

Students gain a broad base of conceptual and practical skills, which enable graduates to enter a range of professions in the public and private sectors. Recent students having secured jobs in such diverse areas as local government, planning, education, international development, management, business and finance, surveying, environmental organisations and the civil service, both in the UK and abroad.

This degree will be recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute from the 2015/16 academic year.

Students starting this course in 2014 will study:
(This list is subject to change)

Year 1 Modules ...

The first year provides an introduction to the core areas of Geography and Planning. They cover issues such as the nature of geographical thinking, globalisation, the elements of planning, and the developing world. Students will also develop the essential skills for accessing and processing information.

You will study:

Year 2 Modules ...

The second year builds on Year 1, looking in more depth at the history of geographical thought, the economic and cultural sub-fields of geography, the core practical disciplines of planning, and planning’s application to environmental issues. A stream on geographical research provides a review of research techniques and issues, and also acts as an introduction to the dissertation to be completed in the third year.

You will study:

And choose one option from:

Year 3 Modules ...

The third year pulls together the modules on planning and on geography in a year-long core module that culminates in a field visit. This and the dissertation are compulsory. You will then be able to choose the remaining three modules from a range of options.

You will study:

And choose three options from:

BSc City and Regional Planning – See course details on Coursefinder

Planning is an exciting activity that impacts on our everyday lives, influencing everything from the homes where we live, opportunities for employment, the quality of our town centres, the use of public spaces, the availability of green spaces and the ways we move between different parts of our towns and cities. Places are complex and continually changing, and graduate planners need the knowledge and skills to manage development and promote change.

The BSc City and Regional Planning course is designed for those who want to understand how places work and how to change them. The course provides you with an understanding of the social, economic, political and environmental factors that shape cities and regions. You will also learn how to influence these processes in order to deliver more sustainable communities that are better places to live in.

The course is ideal for anyone interested in the relationship between the built and natural environment. And, as a professionally-recognised and applied degree, the course opens up a wide range of graduate career opportunities in planning, design, surveying and beyond. 

You will have opportunity to specialise in modules focusing on different areas of planning, spend time studying overseas, and participate in field study visits in the United Kingdom, Europe and globally. Your modules will involve practitioners and experts from the world of practice to bring your studies to life and help you to apply your knowledge. There is opportunity for you to get extended, salaried placement experience where you will gain real responsibility and depth of experience.

The practical emphasis of the course is reinforced by field study visits which are included in each year of the course. First year field study visits are local to the Cardiff city region. In Year 2, students enjoy a residential field study visit to a European city (currently Copenhagen). Year 1 and 2 trips are fee inclusive. In 2016, final students can opt for a field study visit to a global city location. Students can choose from the following destinations: Hong Kong, Los Angeles or Tanzania. Students are required to contribute 33% to the costs of final year field study visits, with the remainder covered by the tuition fee.

You will experience a wide range of different types of assessment on the course. These include professional reports, presentations, posters, site analysis and development briefs, films, debates, and both individual and group work. Your assignments will help you to become proficient in a series of planning skills and more general skills.

Graduates from the course have an excellent track record in securing employment in careers in planning, surveying, design and development, as well as transport, economic development, environmental policy, housing and urban regeneration. And, because the course places emphasis on developing a wide range of skills, it can open up opportunities in a wide range of careers outside of planning.

The course is recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a spatial planning degree, and students progress to the School’s specialist Masters courses to complete the RTPI’s educational requirements. The course is also recognised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and provides all of the educational requirements for membership. 

Students starting this course in 2015 will study:
(This list is subject to change)

Year 1 Modules ...

The first year of the course introduces you to the key 'building blocks' of planning, and also gets you straight into practical 'live projects'. You will develop a critical understanding of the social, economic and environmental processes that influence places and how they function. 

You will study:

  • Introduction to Urban Planning
    The evolution and structures of planning at national,regional and local scales
  • Places and Plans
    The art of making places at the neighbourhood scale
  • Property, Urban Development and Regeneration
    Understanding the key actors in the development process and what makes development happen
  • Urban Economies
    The economics of planning and urban and regional development
  • Society, Diversity and Planning
    The demographic and social dimension of planning and issues of equal opportunities
  • Introducing Research Methods
    Introduces students to the research methods used in planning

Year 2 Modules ...

The second year builds on the core knowledge acquired in the first year and encourages students to apply their skills to a series of practical planning and development issues.

Students on both pathways will be provided with guidance and advice during the second year on the placement year in practice. Students who are enrolled on the three year course may, subject to availability and approval, be permitted to transfer to the four year course with placement, and vice versa. The placement year is a highly valuable component of a planning education. The second year modules for both pathways are the same.

You will study:

  • Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change
    The environmental challenges facing planners and the ways that they can deliver more sustainable outcomes
  • Planning, Markets and Land
    How planning interacts with land and property markets
  • Governing People and Places
    Introduces students to the governance of place at different spatial scales, as well as the mechanisms for making collective or shared decisions about our communities
  • Site Planning and Development Valuation
    How to undertake site planning and assess development costs and feasibility
  • Developing Research Methods
    Develops the practical understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods used in planning research 

You also choose one option from:

  • Regulating Development: Planning Law and Policy
    Examines the legal and policy instruments used for managing development and land use change
  • Development and Underdevelopment
    Exploring the key issues facing urban planners working in countries in the developing world

Professional placement in planning practice ...

Students entering the placement year secure valuable practical experience in professional practice with a public or private organisation. The placement is a period of supervised office training with an employing organisation which is prepared to deliver a range of experience and a structured programme of work. The School will help you to secure this salaried placement and students usually secure their placement on a competitive basis from a range of opportunities advertised through the School. Students can also explore opportunities with a wider range of employers if they have a specialist interest in a specific form of experience.

Placements are offered by a range of different employers in the private and public sectors, as well as in the third sector such as charitable trusts and campaigning organisations. The following organisations have recently been among those offering placement opportunities:

  •  White Young Green
  •  Pegasus Planning Group
  •  Redrow Homes
  •  National Grid
  •  Transport for London
  •  Welsh Assembly Government
  •  The Planning Inspectorate
  •  London Borough of Newham

Students typically earn a salary of between £14,000 and £17,000, depending on location, and placements usually last for 12 months.

The experience gained during the placement year is highly valued by students and especially by prospective employers for its promotion of key employability skills.

Final Year Modules ...

The final year provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on the learning across the course to date, including any period of professional practice, and allows you to start to develop a specialism within a specific sub-field of planning. It serves as an important component of the course in bridging the worlds of practice and academic study. Emphasis is placed on developing the qualities of a critical, reflective practitioner and encouraging students to think carefully about the nature, instruments and impacts of planning.

In your final year as an undergraduate you will study six modules; four core modules and two option modules.

You will study:

  • Contemporary International Planning
    Explores a wide range of different planning systems across the world and the lessons that can be learned from them
  • Planning Theory and Practice
    Critically reviews and reflects on the key concepts that planners use in everyday practice
  • Sustainable Transport
    Introduces students to the factors which inform travel and transport choices, and how more sustainable patterns of travel can be achieved
  • Research Project
    Exploring a key planning issue or topic of your own choice with the guidance of an experienced supervisor 

Plus two option modules, which can include one field study visit module:

The option modules are an important step in developing a specialism in planning. They complement your core modules and help you to determine your preferred route to specialised study at Masters level.

  • Researching Contemporary Issues in Hong Kong
    Explores the changing nature of this compact, global city and how these are being managed
  • Researching Contemporary Issues in Los Angeles
    Investigates the significant urban issues arising in managing this complex and varied city
  • Researching Contemporary Issues in Tanzania
    Investigates the development and management of cities in the context of the developing world
  • Design Guidance and Review
    Explores the mechanisms for evaluating and improving design quality in the built environment
  • Economic Change and Spatial Policy
    Examines the nature of regional differences in terms of economic development and the effectiveness of regional spatial planning policy in the UK
  • Housing Inequalities: people, places and policies
    Examines issues such as homelessness, housing for elderly persons, the provision of housing land and its relationship to wider regeneration projects