Spatial Planning - Bolton Street

TU Dublin - Technological University Dublin

Spatial Planning - Bolton Street

Course Title: Master of Science in Spatial Planning
What is... Spatial Planning?
This part-time course provides an opportunity for practitioners and qualified individuals to become professional planners by attending an accredited part-time planning course. Through a modular delivery of lectures, tutorials and seminars over a period of 2.5 years, including the successful completion of a dissertation, students can obtain a highly recognised planning qualification.

The course is presented within the School of Transport Engineering, Environment and Planning in TU Dublin Bolton Street. An intake of 10-15 students is envisaged, of different disciplines and backgrounds, all with some professional experience, usually in the built environment. The course provides scope for a considerable degree of inter-disciplinary learning both within the student group as well as between lecturers and students.

The group environment fosters a creative atmosphere of interactive problem-based learning. Students are set real-life challenges often involving actual problems facing planning agencies, who also get involved in tuition and assessment. The teaching faculty is made up of committed TU Dublin personnel in addition to practising professionals, considered some of Ireland’s leading experts in their respective disciplines.

Students and staff engage directly with agencies and community/industry in project work on a routine basis. A high level of industry involvement is ensured in guest lectures, programme development, project work, feedback and critique, etc.

The Spatial Planning Graduate Network, an alumni network organised by graduates of the course and the programme chairperson, runs a CPD and forum programme which directly involves and is linked to the current course.

Students undertake a range of modules covering all areas of the social and environmental sciences. They gain practical knowledge of core planning practices; including planning law, transport and urban development, spatial planning systems in Ireland and other jurisdictions, development management, infrastructure planning, area planning, environmental assessment and urban design. The completion of a dissertation allows students to explore a specific and relevant planning issue on an in-depth basis.

Subjects taught

The following modules are included in the course:
Year One
SSPL 9001: Rural Environment and Planning
The module provides an understanding of current and emerging theory in the rural environment. As well as gaining a practical awareness of current problems and issues, students will focus on the incorporation of environmental, cultural and economic values for rural areas. Students will undertake exercises in providing for and promoting biodiversity in spatial plans.

SSPL 9002: History & Theory of Planning
This module provides a high level understanding of the evolution of spatial planning, key concepts and current themes. The student is also trained to critically evaluate the theoretical and ethical justification for planning policies and their implementation.

SSPL9003: Planning Law & Institutions II
Planning law and governance is becoming ever more complex and fast-changing. The Planning Law & Institutions II module provides an essential grounding in the administrative structures, statutory instruments and applications necessary in the implementation and administration of planning policies and planning law.

SSPL9004: Local Area Plan
The aim of this module is to develop advanced planning skills through the formulation of plans for local areas. Students will learn how to combine design and innovation with planning objectives. The Local Area Plan is a fundamental tool for planners. It is the principal junction between policies and zoning which increasingly must take account of the neighbourhood scale and local contexts.

SSPL 9005: Socio Economic Environment
This module provides the learner with the relevant socio-economic context for understanding the dynamics of settlements and communities. The module utilises contemporary examples from Ireland and internationally to illustrate these concepts and provides a strong context for policy evaluation.

SSPL9006: Research Techniques
This module provides the skills to understand sources of information, data analysis and computation relevant to research. The student is introduced to research and report writing skills. The module also prepares the student for writing the MSc Spatial Planning dissertation.

SSPL9055: Technology & Infrastructure
This module provides an overview of the principles and techniques for building & site development and environmental infrastructure. The student also obtains an understanding of energy conservation in sustainable construction and building design.

Year Two
SSPL9008: Cultural Heritage & Urbanism
This module provides a systematic understanding of the cultural context for spatial planning and urban design. It also considers what skills might be necessary to anticipate the consequences of urban interventions. Students will learn how to evaluate a proposal in a heritage context.

SSPL9009: Environmental Assessment II
This module provides an overview of theory and current practice in the preparation and undertaking of Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment.

SSPL 9010: National & Regional Planning
Economic growth increasingly concentrates in new spatial patterns caused by changes in the geographic distribution of flows of people, goods and information. This module explores how increasing integration and globalisation of economies have implications for the distribution of economic activities in space and how strategic planning policies respond to this.

SSPL 9011: Planning Practice logbooks
While undertaking the 2½ year part-time course the student must maintain a logbook detailing the areas in which work experience has been gained. The logbook should demonstrate that the student has worked for at least 40 days in each of four practice areas selected from a range of areas of professional planning. The range of elements from which a choice can be made reflects the diverse nature of the planning profession.

SSPL 9012: Urban Design
This is a practical group project which synergises many of the lessons learned from the full range of modules and learning activities on the course. The group will step through an evolved process in order to structurally address a given area and propose how it might be regenerated and redesigned towards the creation of a vibrant, resilient and healthy neighbourhood. The group will engage with stakeholders and agencies involved in the area's future.

SSPL 9013: Planning Techniques
This module covers advanced and specialised techniques for data and information management used in contemporary spatial planning. The module looks at population, labourforce and housing projection methodologies. Familiarisation will be gained with methodologies underpinning transport assessment, retail impact assessment and health impact assessment. Participatory planning and decision-making techniques will also be considered.

SSPL 9014: Transport and Urban Development
Modern transport networks form the backbone of city regions and influence real estate development through accessibility profiles. The module explores the implications of transport infrastructure for urban development and settlement patterns. Issues of governance, policy and design will be explored as well as understanding techniques for the design and appraisal of sustainable urban mobility solutions.

Year 3
SSPL 9027: Dissertation
This is a self directed learning module which is reported in a dissertation between 15,000 and 20,000 words. The dissertation must be an original piece of work by the student on a topic relevant to the theme of Spatial Planning and is a mandatory requirement for the award of the masters degree. The dissertation offers each student an opportunity to explore, on an in-depth basis, a particular and specialised problem or aspect of planning.

Entry requirements

Minimum Entry Requirements?
In order to be admitted to the course, applicants must meet the following requirements:
• Have an appropriate honours (2.2 grade or higher) bachelor degree.
• Have five years relevant experience in an area generally related to planning.
• Have an ability to undertake practice during the course that is relevant to planning (see attached note on "Planning Practice Logbook Requirement" for details).

See also: Spatial Planning Practice Logbook

Prospective students are expected to address the above matters in their written application as well as in an interview. Acceptance onto the course is by interview. A Selection Interview Panel is convened, usually in early-June, to decide on course intake for the following September.

Application dates

Applications for courses commencing in September 2024 will open in November 2023.

Please note due to the great demand for our courses early applications are assessed when received and dealt with promptly. Therefore it is advisable to make early applications for an early response. If you do not yet have your final degree results this will not hinder your application as we are happy to issue conditional offer letters in such circumstances.

Assessment Info

Assessment is by examination and coursework, however a large portion of the programme is assessed by practical project-work, undertaken both individually and in teams. Projects undertaken include:

•Local Area Plan Project
•Urban Design Project
•Strategic Environmental Assessment Project
•Other module assessment projects (often incorporating field work)
•Planning Practice Logbook requirement
•Research Dissertation (undertaken in final semester)


2.5 years
Mode of Study: Part Time
Method of Delivery Blended

The course is presented on a part-time basis through a five semester cycle. During each of the first four semesters, over a two year period, lectures will be delivered in a blended format. This will include (i) weekly lectures online and (ii) face to face lectures taking place over 8 full Friday’s and Saturdays per year. Attendance will be required for one additional weekend seminar per semester. During the fifth and final semester, students work primarily on their dissertation.

Total course attendance over the 2½ years will therefore amount to two years of online weekly delivery (usually two evenings per week) and 16 to 18 weekend face to face lectures, tutorials, and weekend seminars with some exam periods. Written examinations will be held at the end of years one and two.

Enrolment dates

Commencement Date: September 2024

Post Course Info

What are my career opportunities?
The course is accredited by the Irish Planning Institute and the Royal Town Planning Institute, the two established and internationally recognised accreditation bodies for spatial planning in Ireland.

Many graduates use their knowledge to supplement their existing professional practice. Equally, many others use the programme to reskill into planning positions within local authorities, agencies, government bodies or private practice. Others still, use the course to develop practice in new and emerging areas of planning, which like any contemporary profession is an evolving field.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time,Blended

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    Course provider