Master of Planning and Urban Design

Courses Australian courses Master of Planning and Urban Design

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Master of Planning and Urban Design

James Cook University (JCU) has brought together some of the world's most creative and visionary planning professionals to enable you to gain the maximum benefit from this unique Masters degree. They'll share their extensive international experience, including in South East Asia, Brazil and in Indigenous communities.

So whether you're an international student, an Australian student studying Planning, or adding to your existing qualifications in Arts, Social Sciences, Engineering, or Science - if you dream of embarking on an important career in Planning where you can really make a difference in your world - this Masters degree offers you opportunities not available at any other university.

Townsville, Cairns, Singapore
Start dates
February, July
2 years full-time
Part time available
Study mode
On campus

Career opportunities

Depending on the specialisations you choose, your career could see you working anywhere in Australia or internationally in highly creative roles in government, not-for-profits, developing countries or independent corporations. Your options will be extensive. When you graduate your work could include tropical planning and urban design to meet the major challenges facing society today, such as:

  • Designing cities, towns and remote communities to cope with climate change
  • Population growth and change
  • Rapid urbanisation
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Conflict over land use
  • Planning to include cultural diversity
  • Economic development
  • Hazard mapping
  • Planning sub-divisions
  • Ecological sustainability
  • Social and planning policy development
  • Environment impact assessment
  • Environmental law
  • Urban and regional planning.

When you graduate, you'll be able to offer special knowledge and skills in tropical planning and policy development. You could even use the communication and political negotiation knowledge you'll gain to establish a career in politics. For those wishing to contemplate planning issues in a scholarly way, your Masters degree could be a stepping-stone towards a career in research.

Course highlights

If you're already studying Planning, this JCU degree allows you to seek advanced standing to fast-track your Masters degree. And if you want to add to your existing qualifications which could be in areas such as Arts, Social Sciences, Engineering or Science, and embark on a highly creative career as a Tropical Urban or Regional Planner, this JCU course offers you that opportunity.

You’ll study both in the classroom and in the field in order to integrate your theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Field-based learning you may participate in includes:

  • Study of Urban Design and Disaster Resilience units in Singapore, whose tropical urban planning is recognised worldwide for its excellence
  • Work and study with industry experts such as local architects whose experience includes addressing changing planning needs to address ageing populations, disappearing youth populations, limited job opportunities, declining tourist numbers - key issues that you may choose as your focus when you graduate
  • Studies of Planning relevant to Yarrabah's Indigenous community
  • Visits to regional farming, tourism/eco-tourism locations, where you'll gain an understanding of the issues facing these communities and businesses.

Course overview

This JCU Masters course provides you with academic knowledge and practical field experience that will enable you to make a positive impact on communities, and navigate through political environments involved in planning for a changing world. Among the core subjects and optional units you'll study are:

  • Environmental and Regional Planning
  • Urban Geography/Design
  • Field Studies of Tropical Geography
  • Design Communication
  • Urban Ecosystems
  • Disaster Management Principles
  • Natural Hazards
  • Sustainability in Practice
  • Native Title and Land Use Planning
  • Indigenous Environmental Management
  • Practice of Cultural Heritage
  • Asia Pacific Development: Culture and Globalisation.


This JCU Masters degree is accredited by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).

How to apply

Complete an online application through our Online Application Portal.

Our campuses in Singapore and Brisbane operate on a trimester system – three semesters per year. View academic calendars.


Master of Planning and Urban Design

Handbook year


Course code


Course type

MCW – Masters by Coursework (AQF Level 9)

Professional accreditation status 

This course is accredited by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA). Graduates are eligible for immediate membership of the Urban and Regional Chapter of the Planning Institute of Australia and, after two years professional planning experience, are eligible to become corporate members (MPIA).


Tropical Environments and Societies

Award Requirements

Admission Requirements

Course pre-requisites

Completion of an AQF Level 7 Bachelor Degree in a cognate discipline (such as geography, environmental studies, planning, engineering or similar), at this or another University

Minimum English language proficiency requirements

Applicants of non-English speaking backgrounds must meet the English language proficiency requirements of Band 1 – Schedule II of the JCU Admissions Policy.

Academic Requirements for Course Completion

Credit points

48 credit points as per course structure

Additional course rules

Students may be required to attend block mode or flexible delivery subjects on other campus', and some subjects will require fieldwork that includes additional costs for food and accommodation.

Additional completion requirementsNone

Course learning outcomes

Graduates of the Master of Planning and Urban Design at James Cook University will be able to:

  • Integrate and apply an advanced body of theoretical and technical knowledge, including understanding of recent developments, in urban and regional planning in the tropics
  • Retrieve, analyse, synthesise and evaluate complex information, concepts and theories from a range of sources
  • Plan and conduct reliable, evidence-based laboratory and/or field experiments/practices by selecting and applying methods, techniques and tools, as appropriate to urban and regional planning in the tropics
  • Organise, analyse and interpret complex planning data using advanced mathematical, statistical, qualitative and technological skills
  • Communicate theoretical propositions, methodologies, social science and scientific data, arguments and conclusions clearly and coherently to specialist and non-specialist audiences through advanced written and oral English language skills and a variety of media
  • Identify, analyse and generate solutions to unpredictable or complex problems, especially related to tropical, rural, remote or Indigenous contexts, by applying planning knowledge and skills with initiative and expert judgement
  • Critically review regulatory requirements, ethical principles and, where appropriate, cultural frameworks, to work effectively, responsibly and safely in diverse contexts
  • Reflect on current skills, knowledge and attitudes to manage their professional learning needs and performance, autonomously and in collaboration with others
  • Apply knowledge of research principles, methods, techniques and tools to plan and execute a substantial research-based project, capstone experience and/or piece of scholarship.

Course Structure


EV5001:03 Environmental and Regional Planning

EV5301:03 Urban Geography and Design

EV5603:03 Planning Legislation and Professional Practice

EV5505:03 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems


Select two majors from Table A


Select either OPTION A or OPTION B

OPTION A (Dissertation – entry restricted to minimum Grade Point Average of 5.5)

SC5912:06 Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (1 of 2)

SC5913:06 Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (2 of 2)

OPTION B (Minor Project)

EV5910:03 Professional Planning Project (1 of 2)

EV5920:03 Professional Planning Project (2 of 2)

SC5008:03 Professional Placement


Select 3 credit points of subjects specified in List 1

List 1

EV5602:03 Urban Design Studio

EV5404:03 Field Studies in Tropical Geography

EV5120:03 Advanced Design Communication

EV5130:03 Urban Ecosystems

EV5607:03 Disaster Management Principles

EV5606:03 Disasters, Communities and Planning

EV5614:03 Leadership in Disaster Management

EV5454:03 Natural Hazards

EV5015:03 Sustainability in Practice

AN5006:03 Asia Pacific Development: Culture and Globalisation

EV5610:03 Native Title and Land Use Planning

EV5010:03 Planning for Sustainable Communities in a Changing Environment

EV5252:03 Indigenous Environmental Management

AY5026:03 The Practice of Cultural Heritage Management

SC5901:03 Special Topic 1

TABLE A (Majors)

Type of major

Mandatory, double

Credit points in major

12 credit points

Special requirements

Fieldwork is compulsory in some subjects




Development Planning




Disaster Resilience





Indigenous Planning




Sustainable Tropical Urbanism








Some subjects may be only be available in external mode


Some subjects are only available in external or block mode at the Cairns campus. Townsville-based students are required to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements in order to attend these subjects, at their own expense.


Not all majors are available in Singapore.


Expected time to complete

2 years full time or equivalent part time

Maximum time to complete

9 years

Maximum leave of absence

5 years


Course progression


Course includes mandatory professional placement(s)


Special assessment


Professional accreditation


Maximum allowed Pass
Conceded (PC) grade


Supplementary exam for
final subject

A student who has failed the final subject towards the award and who gained 40% or more of the marks for that subject, may be granted a supplementary examination in that subject. However if that subject is required for accreditation, then the criteria specified by that accreditation will apply.

Advanced Standing


Students may apply for advanced standing for previous tertiary study in accordance with the Credit and Articulation policy and associated procedures

Maximum allowed

18 credit points

Except where a student transfers from one JCU award to another, then advanced standing may be granted for more than two-thirds of the new award, where there is subject equivalence between the awards


Advanced standing should not be granted for subjects completed more than 10 years prior to enrolment for the award for which advanced standing is being sought.


Advanced standing gained for any subject shall be cancelled 19 years after the date of the examination upon which the advanced standing is based if, by then, the student has not completed the course of study prescribed for the degree

Other restrictions


Award Details

Award title


Approved abbreviation


Inclusion of majors on


Exit with lesser award

Students who exit the course prior to completion, and have successfully completed 12 credit points of appropriate subjects, may be eligible for the award of Graduate Certificate of Science in Tropical Urban and Regional Planning.

Course articulation

Not applicable

Special Awards

Where coursework is completed at a grade point average of 6 or above, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, on the recommendation of the College Dean of Science and Engineering may recommend the award of a Master of Planning and Urban Design with Distinction.

What is Planning?

This website is intended as general guide. Prospective students should contact the university to confirm admission requirements and the availability of courses. James Cook University reserves the right to alter any course or admission requirement without prior notice.