Why study planning and surveying at postgraduate level?

Planning and surveying courses

Planners and surveyors work with the built and natural environment, taking measurements, deciding on land use and keeping urban growth in check. Planners work as intermediaries between the physical environment and the development plans of local councils and businesses. Surveying is a diverse profession, which includes quantity, property and building surveying.

There are various postgraduate courses available to those wanting to pursue a career in both areas, leading to professional qualifications such as charterships, or to highly detailed research via PhDs.

Surveying masters are often related to the construction and civil engineering areas: graduates with these backgrounds may wish to pursue a quantity or property surveying masters.

Conversion courses are available for non-cognates. Although they aren't necessary to get a job (the surveying profession accepts applications from graduates from a wide range of backgrounds), a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accredited postgraduate course can give you a real leg-up in the job market. It's also vital for those wanting to gain chartership.

Planning graduates may have an undergraduate degree accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Those who lack either a cognate or an accredited degree will need to do an RTPI-accredited postgraduate course to meet the required level.

Questions to consider if you're thinking about postgraduate study in planning and surveying

  • Is your undergraduate a 'cognate' degree? (ie is it in a subject related to the built environment?)
  • Is your chosen course accredited by the RICS or RTPI?
  • If you need to do a conversion course, what study mode would suit you best?
  • What industry links do different courses have?
  • What kinds of placements or work experience are offered?
  • Do potential employers have preferred courses?
  • What work experience will you be able to organise in the location of your postgraduate institution?
  • Do course fees include field trips?
  • What IT facilities will you need?

Employment options

Planning and surveying covers a wide variety of job roles with a range of different employers. Graduates can find work with consultancies, private practices, large commercial organisations, private landowners, local authorities, central government, housing associations, property developers, construction companies and utilities. The tasks can be just as varied, from advising clients about land use issues and undertaking surveys, to implementing plans and policies for commercial and residential developments.

Professional qualifications are a great way to progress your career and are available through RICS and the RTPI. Chartered status is highly valued throughout the built-environment sector. It usually requires a strong accredited degree, several years' experience and completion of an assessment of professional competence. Chartered surveyors and planners can have excellent prospects, especially those willing to take managerial positions.

Professional planning and surveying bodies

There are two main professional bodies that you need to be aware of: The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Both set accreditation standards, provide training opportunities and promote the interests of professionals in their respective career sectors.

Popular course titles

  • MSc Spatial Planning
  • MSc Building Surveying
  • MSc Quantity Surveying
  • MSc Urban Planning (Developing Transitional Regions)
  • MPhil Environment (City and Regional Planning)
  • MSc Planning and Landscape
  • PhD Planning
  • PhD Property Surveying