Institution / Ulster University Jordanstown
City scape

Community Planning & Governance

Inspiring change through collaborative governance.

The course aims to facilitate the personal and intellectual development of students and to produce graduates with the knowledge and skills appropriate to manage change, the delivery of community planning (integrated service provision) and appreciate the dynamic forces that shape the relationship between people and place through spatial planning.

Within this overall aim, the course will enable successful students to engage with, understand and debate:
Planning and Regeneration
Change Management
Collaborative Governance
People and Place
Service Delivery
Performance Management
Resilient Communities

The programme is delivered by the School of the Built Environment, in association with the School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies and the Ulster Business School.

The PgDip/MSc in Community Planning and Governance has been designed to provide insight into the evolving governance relationship between people and place and the challenges of co-operative models for integrated public services during a context of discontinuous change. The programme is centred on two key contemporary debates. First, it focuses on the drive to encourage active citizenship that supports direct involvement of communities in their own governance to influence the delivery of quality local services and shape the environment around them. Second, it explores the concepts that encompass the continuing modernisation of local governance and the integrative relationship between spatial planning and models of integrated service delivery (community planning).

It is an innovative programme bringing together knowledge from the disciplines of spatial planning and governance, leadership and change management, and community development, to offer a programme designed for those wishing to develop specialist and transferable skills to implement new models of service delivery, successful collaborative working, and span sectoral and organisational boundaries.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements

Applicants to the linked PgDip/MSc (full-time) programme should hold:

(1) an Honours or non-Honours degree from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which is recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or

(2) an equivalent standard in a Postgraduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate or an approved alternative qualification;

and provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent);

or as an alternative, and in exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities may be considered as an alternative entrance route.

Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.



This full-time programme requires the following attendance, which leads to the following qualifications:

Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip): 2 semesters
Master’s (MSc): 3 semesters (1 full academic year).

Careers or further progression

Career options

The programme is intended to prepare participants to act as managers, administrators and professional advisers in the public, private and community sectors. There is a strong demand for well-educated individuals who appreciate the changing collaborative working context between professionals and citizens, can influence how places and services are shaped, and understand the opportunities and challenges for delivering and enhancing social, economic and environmental well-being outcomes. Opportunities also exist within the Built Environment Research Institute (BERI) for PhD studies in a wide range of community planning and spatial planning related topics.

Professional recognition

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) 

Accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) for the purpose of fully meeting the educational requirements for Chartered Membership.

Further enquiries

Faculty Office
T: +44 (0)28 9036 6521

Course Director: Gavan Rafferty / Linda McElduff
T: +44 (0)28 9036 6391

Subjects taught

Governance and Performance Management

Year: 1
This module examines the evolving nature and role of partnership working and collaborative governance in contemporary society through an exploration of changing state, market and civil society relations. In the context of community planning, it explores how partnership working and boundary spanning can inform the delivery of service provision and influence performance management. The module intends to enable participants to identify, explain and question models of partnership working and performance indicators for enabling community planning to deliver enhanced public services.

Communities in Focus
Year: 1
The module is rooted in fostering skills of ethical leadership and increasing the knowledge and understanding of students as global citizens. Students will experience working in a collaborative environment and challenged to adhere to the principles and values of a shared learning journey. Students will be encouraged to take responsibility for autonomous learning and working with their peers and tutor/s, to develop robust feedback systems that promote setting realistic and achievable future learning goals. The key aspects of ?communities in focus? will examine community development in framing the local environment within a global context. The principles of practice will include the key values of participation, empowerment capacity building and sustainability. These values form the springboard from which students will explore learning paradigms that begin to challenge and shape community transformation.

Inclusive Engagement Methods
Year: 1
This module explores ways of designing and facilitating inclusive engagement approaches, whilst helping students understand how ideas of civic and civil engagement are politically located and socially constructed in institutional and administrative environments. It presents theoretical and practical frameworks for understanding and implementing engagement for different planning enterprises.

Development Appraisal and Regeneration
Year: 1
This module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the planning and property development process in context of sustainable urban regeneration, a contemporary and priority agenda in cities. The module provides the students with knowledge of key issues related to mixed use developments and the deliverability of sustainability principles within an urban regeneration context. This module addresses the policy objectives related to sustainable communities and low carbon growth in cities.

Leadership for Managing Change
Year: 1
The module will examine a range of theoretical and practical issues surrounding leadership and change. Understanding, and appreciating, such issues and considering how best to use new knowledge will be essential for spatial planners in terms of enhancing organisational and city performance in an inclusive way. The module is designed to prepare students to better manage their careers in the context of discontinuous change.

Community Planning and Delivery Outcomes
Year: 1
The module explores community planning as a modern expression of securing integrated institutional and cross-sectoral working, incorporating civil engagement, to design resilient service delivery. The module offers students to rethink public services, discuss the governance context that shapes service delivery and considers ways to monitor outcomes for improving well-being. With particular relevance to Northern Ireland, given the statutory link in legislation between community planning spatial and land use planning, which is the first of its kind in the UK and Ireland, the modules explores how the interplay between these two processes can be considered as an integrative approach for improving the relationship between people, places and services.

Spatial Planning and Practice
Year: 1
This module considers the concept of spatial planning and how it has evolved across the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe. In particular, the module identifies the contemporary debates surrounding the fluid conceptualisations of spatial planning, and articulates how planning nests within planning practice. The module will provide a learning platform to understand the role and interrelationships between stakeholders in structuring and shaping land use policy and how planning practice sits within a particular legal framework.

Research Design and Methodology
Year: 1
This module introduces students to the practice of postgraduate research in the social sciences. This module requires students to consider the key research approaches, methodologies, and designs in the social science research in an effort to undertake an independent, in-depth study that demonstrates effective research, analytical, evaluation and appraisal skills. Students are expected to demonstrate an applied understanding of the theories and practices of undertaking empirical research in relation to an original problem, and examine the ethical issues which must be considered in advance of embarking on primary research. The module provides an essential skills basis for completion of a post-graduate dissertation or research project.

Community Planning Project
Year: 1
This module requires students to undertake an independent, in-depth study in relation to a specific community planning problem or issue and to demonstrate effective research, analytical, evaluation and appraisal skills. Students are expected to demonstrate an applied understanding of the theories and practices of community planning, undertake empirical research in relation to an original problem, and reach appropriate evidence-based decisions or recommendations.

Assessment method

Teaching and learning assessment

A variety of learning and teaching methods are adopted across the modules on this course, to place emphasis on independent, reflective and experiential learning, which include, for example, interactive lectures, facilitated seminars, cafe symposium style workshops, problem-based learning scenarios, reflective discussions, project work, case study examples and self-directed learning.

There is a mixture of both formative and summative assessments in all modules. Formative assessment is a core element of teaching and learning, in that it does not contribute to the final mark given for assignments, but instead it contributes to learning through providing feedback and feeding forward to help change and improve the quality of submitted assignments. Summative assessments, which evaluate student learning through assignments, vary across modules. Examples include professional reports, individual and group presentations, academic essays, personal reflective logs, and an independent community planning research project (at MSc level).

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2017

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