I mentioned my attendance at RTPI events and the fact that I'd won a Future Planners' bursary in a presentation competition at university. This has helped massively with paying my tuition fees and also aided me in gaining my first planning officer role a whole year before my graduation.
Course: MSc in Urban Planning at UWE Bristol
Why did you choose to study planning?
After a few years out of academia and in the real world of work, I developed a keen interest in planning and decided to pursue a relevant qualification at UWE Bristol.
A key selling point of the course, the MSc in Urban Planning, was its professional accreditation from the RTPI. It can be difficult for graduates to stand out from the crowd but this accreditation really enables students to gain significant skills, enhance their profile, and demonstrate their professional competencies. I currently combine this study with working as a Planning Officer in the Development Management team at Swindon Borough Council. This role is exactly what I was hoping to achieve at the end of my Master's course, but I was lucky enough to be given the position early. Since then I have dealt with my own caseload, assisted in a public inquiry and presented applications in front of the members' planning committee. It was a much needed and exciting step up from my last role and certainly enabled by my Master's, which I am still studying part-time until May this year.
What has been the best thing about studying planning?
It's really busy, but very enjoyable. I love the variety of insights and work the course presents: I've been introduced to the key challenges facing planning, and given a historical summary of how the profession, and professional practices, have evolved. We were exposed to the tiers of planning, and plan-making more generally, through a field trip to Manchester. In terms of exploring local plan-making, we worked with Place Studio, an award-winning consultancy in Bristol, to devise a concept plan for improving Windmill Hill in south Bristol. The project focused on the local neighbourhood, with workshops and community consultation sessions held in a local community centre and at a city farm.
Top tip for future planners?
Attend RTPI events and get involved in your local branch!
I mentioned my attendance at RTPI events and the fact that I'd won a Future Planners' bursary in a presentation competition at university. This has helped massively towards paying my tuition fees and also aided me in gaining my first planning officer role a whole year before my graduation. I was also asked to write an article on my experience of the bursary for the South-West RTPI Branch Out magazine.
Why would you recommend that students consider a career in planning?
If you want to make a difference to the way your area looks and functions, to how people interact with a place, and always aim to improve the facilities and sense of place it provides to its residents and visitors, then I would say that planning could be the career for you!