Three candidates were awarded commendations by the Membership Assessment Advisory Panel (MAAP) for submitting high quality APC submissions in 2018. Here these candidates share their top tips for those looking to apply.
Applied through: Licentiate APC routeMake sure that golden threads
link all aspects of your submission
- BA (Hons) Human Geography - Leeds Metropolitan University
- MA Town and Regional Planning - Leeds Metropolitan University
After graduating from my Master's course in 2013 I began looking for a planning job. To gain vital experience I undertook voluntary part time work for a local architecture firm, providing planning advice on their projects. I also approached my local councils where I was accepted for work shadowing opportunities at Leeds City Council and Kirklees Council. Each gave me vital insights into both the planning system and planning in the public sector. I successfully applied for a job at Kirklees Council, where I have remained for five years.
Kirklees Council has allowed me to flourish as a planner, nurturing my professional development by establishing a strong support network and encouraging me to deal with increasingly complex planning matters. This has allowed me to quickly progress from dealing with minor developments to being lead officer on an ever growing and varied roster of major development proposals. My day to day role includes the assessment of planning applications against planning policy, negotiating as case officer on varied developments, acting as planning lead for council projects as well as offering planning advice to members of the public and local councillors.
- Pick a case study that has meaning for you – Picking a case study of a project you're proud of, or that truly taught you something, will help you feel more invested and allow you be more passionate. This will make it easier to share the work you've done with others and to think and write about it.
- Make sure that 'golden threads' link all aspects of your submission – Your submission is made up of three assessed documents and the log book. They should not be seen as individual documents, but part of a larger whole, being intrinsically interlinked. For example, if something didn't go as planned on your case study project, enter it in your Log Book, reflect upon it in your Professional Competency Statement (PCS) and tell everyone how you're going to learn from it in the Professional Development Plan (PDP).
- Reflect and review your courses of action continuously throughout – Reflection and review is, currently, a 'core' type of evidence required within the competencies and as such should be integral to your actions and submissions. I'd suggest drafting a reflection and review paragraph on each main action you're detailing in your submission. If you feel it's too much later, you can always refine it down.
Applied through: Licentiate APC route“I was able to reflect on my employment, what I've
learned and where I felt I could improve in practice”
- MA Social Anthropology - University of St Andrews
- MSc City and Regional Planning - University of Glasgow
- RTPI West of Scotland's award for 'Best Overall Planning Student'
Following my degree, I took an internship with RTPI Scotland, where I produced a research report on resourcing and funding of the Scottish planning system which assisted RTPI Scotland in developing policy positions ahead of the independent review of the planning system in 2014-2015. Following this, I secured a graduate position with Peter Brett Associates LLP (now part of Stantec) in Glasgow, where I was employed until April 2018. I worked closely with planners and economists within the Glasgow office and other offices across the UK, gaining experience in preparing planning applications and associated evidence and reports, undertaking socio-economic assessments, infrastructure strategies, site-finding exercises, contributing to Environmental Impact Assessments, Strategic Environmental Assessments, and more.
- Give yourself plenty of time when drafting the submission -The APC will give you a chance to reflect on your professional experiences and how you learn and grow as a practitioner. I found that this could not be rushed as I needed critical distance to reflect on my professional experiences, particularly in forming my case studies for the Professional Competence Statement. While some aspects of the submission are descriptive, much of it is you reflecting on your role in a task and now it links to key competencies, on your learning experiences, how you learn, and identifying where you can learn in the future (i.e. in the Professional Development Plan)—all part of becoming a reflective practitioner.
- Give yourself, your mentor and corroborator sufficient time to review your submission thoroughly. In addition to catching the odd spelling and grammatical mistakes, this will allow you, your mentor and your corroborator to offer more substantive constructive criticism which can make a real difference to the finished product.
- Establish a good working relationship with your mentor - Don't be shy to ask for guidance. There are also benefits to choosing a mentor who has recently been through the submission process themselves. My mentor was fantastic and had a lot to offer, from planning how to set and meet deadlines, to effective writing styles for my submission, advice on appropriate case studies, and much more. Admittedly, I was a little overwhelmed when beginning work on my submission because of my workload and a busy home life (having just had a baby daughter!), but my mentor was really encouraging and helped me prioritise it.
- Read the guidance, repeatedly - I found that as I drafted my submission, re-reading the guidance allowed me to identify areas that needed to be further developed. This was particularly the case in the PCS where you need to be very concise. To demonstrate I met the competencies, I mapped out which competencies would be covered by which case studies. After I completed a first draft, I physically highlighted the competencies within the case studies to ensure they were all present in the draft, well-evidenced, and worked within the context of that case study. A close reading of the guidance was also essential for the PDP, ensuring that the right amount of detail was included and that the objectives were realistic. Overall, keeping an eye on the guidance allowed me to identify concrete tasks to 'tick' off, making the workload manageable.
What does being Chartered mean to you?
In addition to Chartership being a significant personal and professional achievement, the APC process provided a critical period of reflection for me. It gave me an opportunity to evidence the skills I gained over the period of my employment at PBA and to gain recognition for it. More importantly I was able to reflect on my employment, what I've learned and where I felt I could improve in practice. It also encouraged me to take a longer-term view of my professional development.
Applied through: Experienced Practitioner APC routeEnjoy doing the application – as it
is a fulfilling and self-reaffirming exercise
- PhD in Urban and Regional Planning at the Centre for Planning, Strathclyde University, 1992.
I was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge between (1992-2018), specialising in housing and urban planning. I am Co-Chair of the European Network of Housing Researchers' working group 'Social Housing: institutions, organisations and governance' and was a Senior Associate of Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR). In March 2019, I took up the post as Professor of Planning at Western Sydney University in Australia and remain a Senior Visiting Fellow of University of Cambridge.
- Follow the listed competencies carefully as you develop your case studies
- Take the process seriously
- Read the detailed advice given in the RTPI guidance
- Allow time to write the application and do a strong proof read too
- The PDP is an equally important component of the application and a very useful exercise
- Finally enjoy doing the application – as it is a fulfilling and self-reaffirming exercise to undertake
What does being Chartered mean to you?
It is important as a planning academic to gain strong professionally recognised credentials – we don't just work in an ivory tower – our evidence-based research and strategic advice is grounded in practice. It was also critical for me, as I took up my post as Professor of Planning at Western Sydney University, to have MRTPI. I gained instant credibility.