The Student Room Group

Urban Planning - Unsure of options

Okay so i want to get into urban studies/planning for university but i'm in a bit of a situation currently. For GCSE's i didn't achieve the grades i needed to be able to pursue the subjects i wanted in college and so i have ended up doing Film Studies, Media Studies and BTEC Business. Which would not have been what i would originally picked as i wanted to pursue a career in geography. I've now missed the deadline for my unit 1 coursework in Business through lack of care, motivation perhaps but also being busy. I'm now not sure what to do, retaking it next year alongside U6 work is capped at a pass so the prospect of me going to Uni with just a pass in a BTEC doing a subject that relates to none of my current subjects seems completely unreasonable. What do i do? Should i drop out and work for a few years and take an access course to get into university? i dont know what my options are and the college assistant tutors are not in and have finished for summer. I would have nothing against dropping out of college as i really dislike it but i want to go to university and i need to know what my best choice is to get to study urban planning in university.
Original post by josephkeith19
Okay so i want to get into urban studies/planning for university but i'm in a bit of a situation currently. For GCSE's i didn't achieve the grades i needed to be able to pursue the subjects i wanted in college and so i have ended up doing Film Studies, Media Studies and BTEC Business. Which would not have been what i would originally picked as i wanted to pursue a career in geography. I've now missed the deadline for my unit 1 coursework in Business through lack of care, motivation perhaps but also being busy. I'm now not sure what to do, retaking it next year alongside U6 work is capped at a pass so the prospect of me going to Uni with just a pass in a BTEC doing a subject that relates to none of my current subjects seems completely unreasonable. What do i do? Should i drop out and work for a few years and take an access course to get into university? i dont know what my options are and the college assistant tutors are not in and have finished for summer. I would have nothing against dropping out of college as i really dislike it but i want to go to university and i need to know what my best choice is to get to study urban planning in university.

I presume you intend to work as a town planner after you graduate (If you want to be a geographer, then I would be guessing that you intend to do a degree in human geography as opposed to physical or straight geography, both of which will require A Level in geography). The job profile for a town planner are in the following:
https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/town-planner
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/town-planner
https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/job-descriptions/town-and-country-planner-job-description

If instead of doing a degree, you want to work your way up, consider planning technician or town planning assistant:
https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/job-descriptions/planning-technician-job-description
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/town-planning-assistant
From what I can see, your BTEC might be borderline acceptable (I mean, it's not strictly an academic job, so I would struggle to see why they would specifically require A Level in Business Studies).

If you want an accredited degree, it needs to be accredited byt the RTPI. Most of the accredited degrees are postgrads as opposed to undergrads. There are a handful of fully accredited undergrad degrees though (see https://www.rtpi.org.uk/become-a-planner/study-at-university/):
https://courses.uwe.ac.uk/K401/urban-planning
https://www.dundee.ac.uk/undergraduate/urban-planning
http://www.qub.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/european-planning-mplan-k490/
https://www.ulster.ac.uk/courses/202324/planning-regeneration-and-development-30783
https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/courses/planning-mplan
https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/town-and-regional-planning-mplan/overview/
https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2019/09931/mplan-master-of-planning/
https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2019/09631/mplan-master-of-planning-with-real-estate/
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/undergraduate/degrees/k400/#courseoverview
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/2021/urban-studies-and-planning-mplanug
https://www.tudublin.ie/study/undergraduate/courses/planning-and-environmental-management-tu835/?courseType=Undergraduate&keywords=planning
There is a list of partially accredited undergrad degrees, but if you choose to do one you would need to top it up with a further certificate.
According to the degrees listed,
You're fine with the A Levels and BTEC that you have for UWE, QUB, and Leeds Beckett if you get the grades.
I can't speak for the other universities, since some don't specify what a related subject to urban planning is for a BTEC. With Dundee, they will be asking for A Level Geography if it's 3 straight A Levels (the only uni with this requirement), but then it says that it accepts BTECs but did not specify whether they require A Level Geography as well (presumably no). I would contact the undegrad admissions for these universities to double check, but chances are your A Levels and BTEC should be fine.
However, if you do get a BTEC with just a pass, then you're going to have a hard time getting into these degrees (they all require at least a merit).

If the prospects of you getting a merit is limited on your BTEC, I would recommend either resitting the year (if you can) or drop it to do an A Level in another subject (something like geography) before getting onto any of the above degrees.

Personally, I would consider the apprenticeship or town planning assistant route if you are keen on going into urban planning. For one, with just 2 A Levels + BTEC, you should be fine.

In any case, you would want to get an RTPI accreditation in order to go into the role.
(edited 10 months ago)
Hi thanks for the help, yes i am interested in becoming a town planner. Unfortunately there are no apprenticeships or jobs going in my local area and thats why i opted to study it as a degree. I would like to switch my subjects to do geography but unfortunately due to not receiveing the grades at GCSE level im unable to switch courses to geography.
Original post by josephkeith19
Hi thanks for the help, yes i am interested in becoming a town planner. Unfortunately there are no apprenticeships or jobs going in my local area and thats why i opted to study it as a degree. I would like to switch my subjects to do geography but unfortunately due to not receiveing the grades at GCSE level im unable to switch courses to geography.


You're fine with your exisiting qualifications if you get good grades in them (not sure about the BTEC) for a number of the degrees.
Failing that (no pun intended), you can later see if you can opt for an Access course as a number of universities previously listed accept it to meet entry requirements (subject to you getting the grades; I don't think there are any specific subject requirements such as requiring there to be at least 15 credits in a specific subject). Should you decide to do an Access course, I recommend looking into an Advanced Learner's Loan as it's likely you will need to pay for the course since you would have done a level 3 NVQ (i.e. your A Levels) prior to doing the course.

The other option in terms of A Levels is to do Goegraphy as an A Level as a private candidate (there are no grade requirements set by the exam boards to do any A Level subject; the grade requirements are set by the individual colleges). This is a pain to do because for all 3 UK exam boards there is an synoptic assessment that you would need to do, and you will need to arrange for that to be assesed (which can cost a hefty sum). You will likely need to contact the individual exam board to see where you can do such an assessment.
Having said that, your third A Level doesn't need to be in Geography in order for you to do urban studies/planning at uni, since it's a degree that pretty much accept any 3 A Level subjects so long you have the right grades for them. Should you wish, you can pick an A Level subject that has 100% exams like Maths (I am guessing this is not one of your favourite subjects).

In terms of costs, I would generally say it's likely that doing a single A Level (with 100% exams) would be cheaper than doing an Access course. However, it's up to you which of the 2 you decide to do should you decide to do a degree.

Also, as you didn't get the grades for geography, it doesn't mean you can't apply for other A Level subjects at your college. As previously mentioned, urban planning/studies is generally not a subject that generally requires you to have done specific A Level subjects, so you're fine to pick any other A Level so long you get the grade. Perhaps consider Literature, philosophy, or politics?

If there are no apprenticeships or jobs in your local area for town planning, it's likely that you would need to move to another area in order to get a job as a town planner even if you have a degree. If you intend to go into town planning, I would suggest you look to move.

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