View across the water of buildings

Spatial Planning / Pleanáil Spásúlachta

Course Title: Master of Science in Spatial Planning

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.

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.

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 course 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.

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. 

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.

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 weekly lectures online and 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. 

Applications for this course are now open - Apply Online

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.

"I had been working in the private planning field when I came upon the MSc in Spatial Planning at TU Dublin. The beauty of the course is that it is delivered on a part-time basis over 2.5 years and the lectures are well timed to cater for those working full-time. The content is extremely varied, covering (amongst others) Planning Law, Local Area Plans, National & Regional Planning, Transport, Urban Design, Cultural Heritage and Environment. I soon began to understand that planning as a practice, is not the secular discipline that I had previously, and misguidedly, deemed it to be – it is an area that touches on all of our lives through our communities, towns and cities and it is one that holds the key to a sustainable, socially inclusive and healthy future. Mixing with students from multiple backgrounds added hugely to my experience and so too did the dedication, vibrancy and unfailing encouragement given by the lecturers throughout the course. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in either expanding their knowledge or indeed seeking an entirely new career path. To say that it has positively altered my own life path would be an understatement."
Lisa Carroll, Architect and MSc in Spatial Planning Graduate 2023

"The MSc Spatial Planning provided an in-depth, and practical, approach to exploring the modern day challenges faced by the planning sector. This course is offered on a part-time basis and provides an appropriate balance of remote and on-campus learning. This enabled me to meet the challenges of everyday life whilst maintaining my studies. The modules and tutors facilitate critical thinking with opportunity to discuss and debate ideas. Everyone was made to feel welcome and the tutors provide enthusiasm for their subject matter. There is a suitable blend of theory and practical modules with field trips to put into practice classroom learning. I really enjoyed this course and would highly recommend it to someone interested in exploring in greater detail planning theory and practice in a modern world."
Ally Menary, Public Sector, 2023

"This course is perfectly tailored for those with busy schedules and in fulltime employment. The blended and flexible learning approach, made doing this Masters possible from my own perspective. The course is also ideal for both those seeking to solidify what they already practice in a professional capacity and perhaps most importantly, for those seeking to enter the world of planning having no prior experience. The subjects are wide ranging and are incredibly interactive providing an ideal balance of both theory and practice-oriented learning. For example Urban Design provided us with the opportunity to develop a real-life area framework and Local Area Plan required us to draft a real-life LAP for a Dublin suburb. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience and made many new friends and contacts along the way, something which cannot be quantified or graded. As such, I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is passionate and interested in pursuing more in-depth knowledge in the area of Town and Spatial Planning in Ireland."
Rory O'Brien, Development Manager and Planner

"I was looking for a structured, part-time course with a definitive timeframe. I was not in a position to return on a full-time basis to university, though I knew I needed the support of a peer group and regular contact with tutors and lecturers. I found that TU Dublin offered a part-time postgraduate MSc in Spatial Planning which met my needs. Our class consisted of a relatively small group made up of personalities whose skillsets & experience spanned a wide range of backgrounds.

The MSc programme covered a broad range of modules, both theoretical and practical. I found the project aspect of the programme extremely beneficial. Preparing analysis documents, studies, project-managing and presentation of these projects provided me with added skills and confidence in pursuing a career as a professional in the planning sector. 

For me, the course offered a safe and encouraging academic environment. The MSc in Spatial Planning is an excellent course - providing skills, knowledge and practical training. The fantastic tutoring and mentoring provided by the lecturers was invaluable. Together with the friendship and comradery provided by my classmates I can honestly say that it was well worth doing and a treasured experience. I would highly recommend the MSc in Spatial Planning offered by TU Dublin."
Gráinne McConnell, Planner

A summary course info sheet is available here Spatial Planning Info Sheet

A list of Frequently Asked Questions is available here Spatial Planning FAQ

A list of sample dissertations undertaken by past students is available here Spatial Planning Sample Dissertations

TU Code



Level 9


Master of Science


2.5 Years

Course Type


Mode of Study

Part Time

Method of Delivery


Commencement Date

September 2024


City Centre: Bolton Street

Virtual Tour

Bolton Street


Year 1 & Year 2: €2,535
Year 3: €1,335