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Thread: Australian universities and planning

  1. #1

    Australian universities and planning

    To Whomever It May Concern:

    I have been accepted into the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne for a Master's in Planning / Urban and Regional Planning. I am currently debating my options.

    Which school has a better Planning reputation? faculty? environment?

    Any suggestions would be very helpful. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Hello everybody, I also want to ask similar question. I want to take master in Australia, I plan to apply Griffith (strength in environment) and James Cook (strength in tropical urban planning). But overall, which school is better?

    Another thought on australia planning school is also okay too

    Thank you!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nien View post
    Hello everybody, I also want to ask similar question. I want to take master in Australia, I plan to apply Griffith (strength in environment) and James Cook (strength in tropical urban planning). But overall, which school is better?

    Another thought on australia planning school is also okay too

    Thank you!
    Thats a tough question

    I don't know much about James Cook, However,

    I am enrolled (2nd year) in the Urban and Environmental Planning Degree at GU Gold Coast. I really enjoy it and the science subjects and find them quite challenging and rewarding. I think any degree that combines planning and the environment is important. I think we will see a new wave of innovation. They are both different but the degree offered at GU combines the urban and environmental element. Planners with an Ecology background are in high demand. The Gold Coast also offers a prime location for studying the effects of rapid urbanisation, climate change, coastal areas and the natural environment. And we have an awesome social camping to La Boite to see what it is like to live in a fully sustainable setting.

    Here are some links for you


    Just a notice, many students struggle and dislike the science subjects and wish it was more "urban". wherever your heart lies


    Keep me posted, I would like to hear your decision

  4. #4
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    I did my undergraduate Degree at UNSW, so i may be slightly skewed in my opinion!

    I know of others that have done their masters at USYD and have enjoyed it.

    Actually i know someone that is currently doing their Masters at Melbourne as well.

    I think Melbourne is quite popular.

    Just depends on what city you would rather be in!

    Im sorry but i dont know the content of any of the courses- i could only tell you about UNSW in terms of the uni (im undertaking a completely different masters degree there now)
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  5. #5
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    Natski: Can you speak to what UNSW is like and the overall reputation of the uni and degrees in planning from there? I too am considering an offer to study in the M Plan program there and am wondering what the reputation of the program there is.

    To the original poster nmhood83: Did you decide on a school? What one? When do you start there?

  6. #6
    BWharrie's avatar
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    Knowing that there are many facets to Town Planning and choosing the right university that suits your passion is important.

    Development Control Planners have the responsibility in assisting prople through the legal maze. So if you like legal work, knowing acts and regulations and the cut and thrust of the coal face joust with developers and the general public (if you want to work for Council or Govt Ppanning Authority) or vica versa, then this may be for you. Contact a friendly Development Control Planner (yes there are still a few about) of your local municipality and see if you can sit down with them for an hour or two while they are working, or if you like the 'dark side' contact a friendly planning consulant for a bit of a chat. Counjcil Development Control Planners usually get to meet a lot of interesting folk which sharpens your customer service skills and negotiating tactics. Either public or private
    Private planners in this field put Development/Planning Applications together so it means co-ordinating other professionals ie architects, engineers and the like.

    Then there are Strategic Planners who make the rules(in Council) or make big plans(planning consultants). In this league you will need to make lots of networks and set up lots of meetings, hear lots of aspirations and complaints then try make sense of it all and put into measurable outcomes for those Developent Control Planners. Lots of big plan making but sometimes the Council or Government go a different direction and you are left with an empty hollw of much important work gong nowhere fast. Generally good for planners who prefer collaboration and understanding than quick decision makers.

  7. #7
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    Thats a very good point. I think I will be pursuing a sustainability stream. How will that be viewed upon by prospective employers? How about my school of choice? Do some schools have a better reputation by employers than others (eg. USYD vs UNSW Master graduates)?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by seymour View post
    Natski: Can you speak to what UNSW is like and the overall reputation of the uni and degrees in planning from there? I too am considering an offer to study in the M Plan program there and am wondering what the reputation of the program there is.

    To the original poster nmhood83: Did you decide on a school? What one? When do you start there?
    As i said before i did my undergrad at UNSW, i really enjoyed my degree- it wasnt specifically focused on one area- it gave you a general overview of planing in general, didnt really focus on one area of planning.

    UNSW is a great uni in my opinion, i have never had a problem with it- its undergrad degree for planning is probably the best known and respected degree in NSW.
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    A degree is a degree, you do not stop learning after you finish. Self learning and reflecting, and your hopefully good work ethic will be seen past a university on your piece of paper.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    I would rank UNSW as the leading University for planning amongst those you've been accepted to.

    I have an undergraduate degree from UNSW so similarly to Natski I may be biased. However, I have recent experience with an employee who did a Masters at UNSW - she clearly benefited in the workplace and she felt well supported by the facilities, staff and course structures in place at UNSW. Sydney has some good academics but their Masters Program is designed to follow a briefer, generalist undergraduate program. UNSW has a full blown undergraduate planning degree.

    Someone above said go where you want to live - I think that's a legitimate argument and in my opinion, Melbourne offers the best lifestyle for a student (weather aside) but only if you are based at the City campus. They have some suburban campuses where some planning subjects are delivered - not great.

    You won't be disappointed by a student experience at any of the institutions but I think UNSW will give you the best degree.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    University of Melbourne

    Hi there

    I'm a graduate of Melbourne's planning degree in 2005, but that was before the Melbourne Model came into being. Previously they offered planning at an undergraduate level but now you have to do it as a Masters. Some of the courses on offer are new, but a few of them are refined courses of old, e.g. Planning Thought, Transport and Land Use Planning, etc. Anyway here's my personal take on Melbourne's planning degree (from my 2005 experience, which may have changed by now):

    Teaching Approach to Urban Planning
    I must add that Melbourne takes a very policy and, more importantly, theoretical approach to its teaching of urban planning. I believe that they do offer more practical/applied courses now, for instance, in understanding the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs), urban design for planners, etc, but still it appears overwhelmingly theoretical, which is both its strength and weakness.

    What you can expect are critiques of current planning policies, understanding of concepts like development management, roles of planners, urban design theories, etc. Also expect academic / policy research and analysis.

    But don't expect things like population modelling, translating this figure into dwelling units, density, understanding where roads should run, what is the width of roads, how much commercial floorspace and parkland to support the neighbourhood etc, as Melbourne doesn't dabble with physical planning. But all this is because of the way planning is done in Victoria, which is mostly policy and law based.

    Specialisations

    Melbourne offers 5 specialisations, namely Urban Design, Transport, Environmental, Economic and Social Planning. Out of these I would say that transport will be the weakest of the lot as the focus is more on developing sustainable transport policies than hardcore planning, which the engineering school does not offer much in (e.g. traffic modelling, public transport timetabling, road engineering, understanding vehicular flows, etc.). Also the previous transport planning lecturer has left, so I'm not sure who's teaching transport in the school now.

    If you're interested in Urban Design, you're better off doing a Landscape Architecture or Architecture degree, with specialisation in Urban Design, as the degree focusses more on understanding urban design and making policies than actually being equipped with the capabilities to draw a plan. When I took some hardcore urban design courses, I really struggled with them as I did not even have the basic skills of drawing or using Autocad/Photoshop. I had to ask a friend to teach me on the go, so the planning students were at a design handicap compared to the architects and landscape architects in the studio (Note: This appears to have changed now as you are now recommended to take Design Communications, which is the basic drawing class for any of the design degrees, but it appears that there may not be enough units to do an actual design studio).

    I would say that their social and environmental planning specialisations are the strongest, but you should try to supplement this with additional courses from outside the faculty (for instance, take environmental science at the faculty of science, or social policy / sociology from the school of politics). When I was there, they were a bit flexible in allowing the type of electives you can take, but I'm not sure what's the school's policy now.

    Here is the current MUP course structure:
    https://app.portal.unimelb.edu.au/CS...ew/2009/A06-DA

    Overall Experience

    I thoroughly enjoyed the course there, had a great time with friends and lecturers. That said, I must add that as a poster said here, you have to continue to supplement your skills with new knowledge as you get into the workforce for there is only so much that school can teach you. It really provided me with a good base to begin my work in urban planning, but now I realise that I need to take up more specialist courses to be able to further in my interest in transport planning.

    Overall I would recommend it to anyone looking for a rigorous course in urban studies, urban theory, urban planning, management or wanting to work in strategic policy making. I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking to do pure physical planning or urban design or transport planning.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by joshww81; 15 Jun 2009 at 9:01 AM.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I'm thinking about applying to a Masters in Urban Planning to an Australian school. I currently live in Canada and before I get ahead of myself, I was wondering if there were any prospects of receiving financial assistance if I'm an international student? I know i'd be paying a ridiculous amount of fees (atleast $20,000/yr on tuition alone). Is there a separate fee if you're a citizen thats part of the commonwealth?
    I really want to live in Australia and I feel like the most realistic way would be to attend school there and find a job after rather than just trying to find a job in a foreign country where I have no experience in. I'm working full time as a planner right now (its my first job) but I'm aching to get out of Canada. Should I stay and gain more experience or get the hell out before I get too old? I know that its all up to what I want to do but I'd like to know if going into debt to pay for school in Australia is worth it based on any of the experiences you guys may have had.

    Any thoughts?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jammers View post
    I'm thinking about applying to a Masters in Urban Planning to an Australian school. I currently live in Canada and before I get ahead of myself, I was wondering if there were any prospects of receiving financial assistance if I'm an international student? I know i'd be paying a ridiculous amount of fees (atleast $20,000/yr on tuition alone). Is there a separate fee if you're a citizen thats part of the commonwealth?
    I really want to live in Australia and I feel like the most realistic way would be to attend school there and find a job after rather than just trying to find a job in a foreign country where I have no experience in. I'm working full time as a planner right now (its my first job) but I'm aching to get out of Canada. Should I stay and gain more experience or get the hell out before I get too old? I know that its all up to what I want to do but I'd like to know if going into debt to pay for school in Australia is worth it based on any of the experiences you guys may have had.

    Any thoughts?
    To be honest, i dont think you get any assistance at all being an international student- whether your part of the commonwealth or not.

    Ultimately the decision is yours, i live in oz, so i really cant give you any first hand experiences being an international student here
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  14. #14
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    Jammers

    I'm currently in the US but grew up in Melbourne and plan to go back soon. I also worked at Melbourne University recruiting international students so I know all about this. International students are a HUGE industry in Australia in general but especially in Melbourne, and they get nothing from the government. Being from the Commonwealth won't help either, they aren't even eligible for concession cards on public transport.

    That said if you did the degree and wanted to stay afterwards, as a Canadian it would not be difficult. ( I've also been through getting PR for my wife, a US citizen, and it was a snap.)

    Hope that helps.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally posted by joshww81 View post
    Hi there

    I'm a graduate of Melbourne's planning degree in 2005, but that was before the Melbourne Model came into being. Previously they offered planning at an undergraduate level but now you have to do it as a Masters. Some of the courses on offer are new, but a few of them are refined courses of old, e.g. Planning Thought, Transport and Land Use Planning, etc. Anyway here's my personal take on Melbourne's planning degree (from my 2005 experience, which may have changed by now):

    Teaching Approach to Urban Planning
    I must add that Melbourne takes a very policy and, more importantly, theoretical approach to its teaching of urban planning. I believe that they do offer more practical/applied courses now, for instance, in understanding the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs), urban design for planners, etc, but still it appears overwhelmingly theoretical, which is both its strength and weakness.

    What you can expect are critiques of current planning policies, understanding of concepts like development management, roles of planners, urban design theories, etc. Also expect academic / policy research and analysis.

    But don't expect things like population modelling, translating this figure into dwelling units, density, understanding where roads should run, what is the width of roads, how much commercial floorspace and parkland to support the neighbourhood etc, as Melbourne doesn't dabble with physical planning. But all this is because of the way planning is done in Victoria, which is mostly policy and law based.

    Specialisations

    Melbourne offers 5 specialisations, namely Urban Design, Transport, Environmental, Economic and Social Planning. Out of these I would say that transport will be the weakest of the lot as the focus is more on developing sustainable transport policies than hardcore planning, which the engineering school does not offer much in (e.g. traffic modelling, public transport timetabling, road engineering, understanding vehicular flows, etc.). Also the previous transport planning lecturer has left, so I'm not sure who's teaching transport in the school now.

    If you're interested in Urban Design, you're better off doing a Landscape Architecture or Architecture degree, with specialisation in Urban Design, as the degree focusses more on understanding urban design and making policies than actually being equipped with the capabilities to draw a plan. When I took some hardcore urban design courses, I really struggled with them as I did not even have the basic skills of drawing or using Autocad/Photoshop. I had to ask a friend to teach me on the go, so the planning students were at a design handicap compared to the architects and landscape architects in the studio (Note: This appears to have changed now as you are now recommended to take Design Communications, which is the basic drawing class for any of the design degrees, but it appears that there may not be enough units to do an actual design studio).

    I would say that their social and environmental planning specialisations are the strongest, but you should try to supplement this with additional courses from outside the faculty (for instance, take environmental science at the faculty of science, or social policy / sociology from the school of politics). When I was there, they were a bit flexible in allowing the type of electives you can take, but I'm not sure what's the school's policy now.

    Here is the current MUP course structure:
    https://app.portal.unimelb.edu.au/CS...ew/2009/A06-DA

    Overall Experience

    I thoroughly enjoyed the course there, had a great time with friends and lecturers. That said, I must add that as a poster said here, you have to continue to supplement your skills with new knowledge as you get into the workforce for there is only so much that school can teach you. It really provided me with a good base to begin my work in urban planning, but now I realise that I need to take up more specialist courses to be able to further in my interest in transport planning.

    Overall I would recommend it to anyone looking for a rigorous course in urban studies, urban theory, urban planning, management or wanting to work in strategic policy making. I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking to do pure physical planning or urban design or transport planning.

    Hope this helps.
    that was really helpful, joshww81!

    I'm in a similar situation - I am soon to graduate from ANU with a Bachelor of Asian Studies but I'm hoping to go into urban planning. I was considering the Melbourne Uni masters program but considering the definiciencies you have outlined above, I'm not sure if it is right for me - I'm particularly interested in transport planning and design.

    The other option seems to be the UNSW undergrad program (plus postgrad?) but I'm not terribly keen to do a second undergraduate degree, especially considering it is a 5-year course and I'm already 22 haha....

    Any more advice others can share?

    Cheers

    Peter

  16. #16
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    Hey,

    I'm in a similar situation, making a decision between UNSW, USYD and Melbourne. I'm graduating from an environmental science/geography degree at Sydney Uni and was hoping to begin my masters next year.

    Is the masters program at UNSW tailored towards those who already have a background in planning (ie. at least a bachelor)? I'm a bit concerned I will get there having only done basic planning courses and be in class with people who have all done a entire planning degree.

    For those looking at Sydney, I think its a great university. But after having just done my bachelor there, i think I need a change!

    Any more info on UNSW would be appreciated.

    Cheers
    Tom

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