Urban and Regional Planning

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Urban and regional planning.

An online course in urban and regional planning teaches you about the intelligent organisation of buildings, infrastructure and landscapes.

Depending on the course, you can study planning fully or partly online.

  • For any course units where attendance is essential, Australian universities organise occasional residential schools.
  • A residential school is where students spend a block of time, usually 1-3 days, attending classes on campus.

Urban and regional planning students learn how to structure developments to achieve the best overall outcome – subject to resource, technical and legal constraints.

Competition for urban and regional planning jobs is high and, for many positions, a masters degree is essentially a prerequisite. To be a successful planner, you may be advantaged by first getting a bachelor degree in architecture or engineering.

Urban and regional planners are responsible for ensuring that cities, towns and regions have vibrant economies and communities, provide for a high quality of life, and are environmentally sustainable... planners need to develop a rounded understanding of the way in which societies, economies and environments operate and interact.


Study Urban and Regional Planning Online

Urban and regional planners design and facilitate the development of liveable communities in city, suburban and country areas. Online study is the easiest way to build expertise and meet the academic requirements for professional accreditation.

  • Urban and regional planners are in demand with communities wanting to design their futures rather than letting growth occur haphazardly.
  • Urban planning is a formal and deliberate approach to managing community growth and development.
  • The profession calls for a diverse skill set and wide-ranging knowledge of planning considerations.

A 4-year professional degree or a graduate diploma are the qualifications you need to gain full membership with the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA). Online courses typically include practical work experience with professional planners.

What the Courses Teach You

Online courses in urban and regional planning prepare students to be professional planners. Students learn important concepts and become familiar with the breadth of planning considerations.

The programs teach students how to bring principles and knowledge together to formulate effective plans. You learn how to

  • find project-relevant information
  • analyse problems and generate creative solutions
  • access new technologies and acquire new skills
  • communicate to diverse audiences.

The program develops understanding of how cities and sites are constructed physically, socially and environmentally. You'll develop communication skills, reasoning ability and analytical processes to contribute to policy, technical and regulatory aspects.

~ Sydney U

What is Urban Design?

Urban design is the strategic planning of cities and towns to meet aesthetic and functional objectives.

  • Urban design differs from architecture, which focuses on individual buildings.
  • Urban designers work on a large scale that takes in groups of buildings, streets and public spaces, and neighborhoods and districts.

An urban design team may consist of built environment professionals with many different specialisations, including in urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and civil and municipal engineering.

Developers and builders also play important roles in the execution of urban plans. They help ensure new buildings fit within the broader design.

Urban planner drawing.

Sustainable urban environments

Urban environments that are compact and walkable provide the most sustainable form of modern living. Spaces need to be built on the scale of humans rather than machines. They should provide a good mixture of uses and services, allowing you to do most things within walking or, at least, cycling distance of home.

A high-functioning urban space provides a range of housing options, giving different types of household units the opportunity to live there. Ideally, they are connected to extensive train systems. They make it easy to include walking and/or cycling in daily life. To be sustainable, they should contain green buildings and draw on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Payoffs from smart planning

Smart urban design brings together ideas and plans for energy-efficient living. At the same time, it creates enjoyable places to live, work and recreate.

In an era of rising energy costs, the payoff from a low-energy lifestyle is only growing.

For example, designing urban areas to lessen our dependence on cars supports sustainability. It reduces energy use and lowers global warming emissions. As added bonuses, reducing dependence on cars eases road congestion and puts more things close to home. All these things serve to boost our quality of life.

Career Opportunities

Embarking on a career in urban and regional planning carries some risk. The job market is relatively small and projected to grow little in the foreseeable future (Job Outlook).

Generally speaking, the safest bet is to study urban and regional planning after (i) you've gained qualifications and experience in a complementary field and (ii) can see job opportunities emerging for you. Complementary fields include architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting.

As an urban and regional planner, you may work as a consultant or employee for

  • local councils, state planning authorities and other government agencies
  • property developers and other private companies.

Planners are required to balance many different objectives and constraints in managing a project. These include aesthetics, functionality, social value, the environment, budgets, and regulatory compliance.

Planning jobs include the design of new suburbs, coastal development, creating energy-efficient housing, and introducing new public transport services.

Urban planning professionals.

Diploma Courses

UNE Town Planning

The University of New England has a pathway course for students interested in doing a degree in urban and regional planning. The 8-unit diploma in Town Planning is open to anyone with at least a Certificate IV qualification in any discipline. It can be studied fully online and counts as credit towards UNE’s bachelor degree.

Bachelor Degrees

UNE Urban and Regional Planning

The University of New England has a 4-year course in Urban and Regional Planning that leads to accreditation by the Planning Institute of Australia. Students are given a general education in all major areas of planning and urban design. On-the-job training is an important aspect of the course that gives UNE graduates a career head start.

USQ Bachelor of Spatial Science

The University of Southern Queensland offers a career-focused major in Urban and Regional Planning. The 4-year professional course equips students with job-ready skills and knowledge. Students use modern mapping technologies and learn about planning laws and community consultation. Tuition fees are discounted for external students.

Graduate Programs

Curtin planning degrees

Curtin University offers a fully online Master of Urban Planning degree through Open Universities Australia. Embedded in the 11-unit program is a shorter 4-unit course: a Graduate Certificate in Development Planning. The masters program is designed for non-planning graduates who want to become planning professionals.

UNE Urban and Regional Planning

UNE has both a conversion course and an extension course in urban and regional planning. They both run for 3 trimesters. The graduate diploma is a career conversion course for university graduates without a planning background. A third of the time is allocated to fieldwork. The masters program consists of coursework only and allows experienced planners to extend their knowledge and skills.

More Courses

Engineering Degrees

Environmental Science

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