City Planning

Master of City Planning

Prog. Code: 
2 years full-time

Term 1, Term 3

Professional Recognition


Commonwealth supported places


Delivery Options

Full-time, Part-time

Play a vital role in decisions shaping the future of our cities and regions

The Master of City Planning is structured to offer you the option of either developing your general planning knowledge or – through your elective options and selected focus of your Planning Project – pursuing specialisations in City Renewal and Development, City Design, History or Theory, and Healthy, Sustainable Communities. Close synergies with other taught postgraduate courses in the School provide an excellent basis for interdisciplinary working.

The program has been structured to fit in with busy lives and work commitments. You can commence the Master of City Planning in either Term 1 or Term 3 and complete the course either full-time or part-time. Where possible, classes are scheduled in the late afternoon or evenings. A number of electives are offered in intensive mode.

Working with industry, government and practice partners, this degree ensures that UNSW School of Built Environment remains on the front foot in shaping the next generation of city thinkers, planners and urban policymakers.

Key Information

Program details

The Master of City Planning is a 2-year program consisting of 1 research project or urban design studio and 14 courses (96 Units Of Credit/UOC).

The program allows you to choose one of four specialist pathways or a generalist (no specialisation) program. 

The program includes:

  • 1 Research Project (If you complete the City Design specialist pathway you can alternatively complete an Urban Design Studio)
  • 9 Core Courses
  • 4 Prescribed Electives.  

Research Project 
In your final year of study, you'll devise and independently undertake a major thesis project, where you'll focus on a particular area of specialised interest and build further depth and expertise to the critical ideas and knowledge you have already gained. You'll also complete a research seminar which will provide you with a range of research-based tools needed to complete the major research project.  

Urban Design Studio
If you've taken the City Design specialist pathway you have the option to replace the major research project and research seminar with an Urban Design Studio and an Urban Design Graphics course which you'll undertake with Master of Urban Development and Design students. 

Key Areas of Study
Urban society, theory, history
City economics and development
Environment and sustainability
City building – infrastructure and transport
Strategic spatial planning
Planning law and administration
Planning research and analysis
Urban management and development assessment
Communication, engagement and participation

Specialist Pathways of Study
City Development and Renewal
City Design
Healthy, Sustainable Communities
History and Theory
Generalist (No stream specialisation) 

For course listing, descriptions and timetables please see the UNSW Online Handbook. 


The Master of City Planning is accredited by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).

As a Planning student, you can take part in the PIA Young Planners network which brings together students and new graduate planners for social and professional events.

Career opportunities

Career opportunities
The Master of City Planning degree provides you with an excellent platform to take up planning and urban policy-related opportunities across all tiers of government (Federal, State, local), private sector consultancies, property development, and indeed the breadth of built environment professions where planning skills are required.

Pathways taken as part of the Master of City Planning may direct you towards more specialist areas, for example in housing, urban renewal, environmental management, heritage or urban design related professions. The interdisciplinary skill sets developed through the degree also enable you to move into wider policy, research, analytical, creative and community roles both in Australia and overseas.

Related Degrees
Graduate Certificate in City Planning
Graduate Diploma in City Planning

Why UNSW School of Built Environment
  • Accredited by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA)
  • One of the world’s great cities is our classroom
  • Graduate Certificate entry available with progression to Graduate Diploma upon graduation
  • Part of the leading centre for urban planning research in Australia
  • Benefit from research-informed teaching
  • World class alumni connections
  • Top 27 in the world and 4th in Australia in Built Environment (QS World University Rankings, 2020)
  • We're a global top 50 university. UNSW ranked in the top 50 universities worldwide (QS World University Rankings, 2020)
  • UNSW has the Most Employable Students (Winner, Australian Financial Review Most Employable Students Award 2020)
  • We're ranked 13th in the world and 2nd in Australia for Employer Reputation in Built Environment
  • Member of prestigious Group of Eight (Go8) universities
  • Strong industry links and partnerships
Students' work


Luminocity 2020

Take an immersive tour through our virtual 360 degree interactive space. Explore Built Environment student projects, visit individual degree exhibits and discover the areas that interest you.


Entry requirements

To be eligible for this program you must have: 

  • An undergraduate degree with a credit average or above (WAM 65+ or equivalent).

Recognition for Prior Learning
If you have an undergraduate degree in a cognate discipline you can apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Up to 24UOC may be exempted, subject to the agreement of the Program Director.

Advanced standing may also be granted for completed or partially completed postgraduate awards from UNSW or other institutions.

What is a cognate undergraduate qualification?

Four key subject areas at undergraduate level offer a strong and appropriate background for a postgraduate planning education. These may be reflected as a degree specifically in any of these areas, but also where one (or more) of these areas are demonstrated in a substantive Major of a general Arts or Liberal Arts degree. 

  • Built Environment subject areas, in particular architecture, landscape architecture, construction, property development and urban design.
  • Social, economic and environmental science subject areas, in particular geography, urban studies and sociology, demography, economics, social policy and politics, communication studies, health studies, international development, environmental ecology, environmental management, environmental sustainability.
  • Law/Jurisprudence
  • Environmental and Civil Engineering subject areas, which would also encompass including surveying and spatial science degrees.
How to apply

All domestic and international students can apply for postgraduate coursework online:

  • Apply online (International students must pay an application fee of $125.)

Application deadlines:

  • Term 1 (February) - apply by 30 November*
  • Term 3 (September) - apply by 31 July

Late applications may be accepted after the closing dates subject to the availability of places.

If you gain entry into a program at UNSW, you can then be assessed for transfer credit for courses (subjects) studied in your previous degree. 

Fees and expenses
Our students

The degree has an exceptional professional and academic reputation. In the Planning degree, lecturers are often highly regarded in their fields of research and bring their passion to the classroom

Gabrielle Coleman, Student