Admission and Unit Information - Bachelor of Planning / Master of Urban Management and Planning)


This course, when completed in conjunction with the Master of Urban Management and Planning, is accredited by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).


Applications from Australian citizens and holders of permanent resident visas must be made via the Universities Admissions Centre.

Applicants who have undertaken studies overseas may have to provide proof of proficiency in English. Local and International applicants who are applying through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) will find details of minimum English proficiency requirements and acceptable proof on the UAC website. Local applicants applying directly to the University should also use the information provided on the UAC website.


International applicants must apply directly to the University via the International Office.

International students applying to The University through the International Office can find details of minimum English proficiency requirements and acceptable proof on their website.

International Office

Alternate Entry Pathway:

Students attending the HSC Geography Enrichment Day, who sit and pass the invigilated test may receive a conditional offer, full offer subject to achieving minimum Western Sydney University ATAR standard.

Course Structure

Qualification for this award requires the successful completion of 240 credit points including the units listed in the recommended sequence below.

Students are also required to complete two of the Pool units listed below.

Recommended Sequence

Year 1

Autumn session

The Individual in Society

This unit introduces the main theoretical perspectives for understanding the ‘individual in society’, including: humanistic, biological, cognitive, behavioural and socio-cultural explanations of individual behaviour. These perspectives are further understood through application of the ‘levels of analysis’ framework. The content then moves on to social psychology and covers topics such as: self and identity, attitudes and attitude change, conformity and obedience, prejudice and discrimination, aggression, pro-social behaviour and attraction and close relationships. Students explore the relevance of these topics to everyday life and contemporary issues.

Understanding Society

Understanding Society is a core unit offered by the School of Social Sciences and Psychology which will introduce students in the first year of their studies to key concepts and theories used in examination of and for understanding social action, social policy, social institutions, social structure and social change. Students enrolled in the unit will be introduced to factual information concerning contemporary societies and the methods of interpreting such information. At the conclusion of their studies in this unit students will have been presented with opportunities to develop skills in critical reading and sociological analysis.

Cities: Introduction to Urban Studies

This unit is a keystone in the Geography and Urban Studies major. It aims to introduce students to the major urban challenges that will shape our society in the future and to the major substantive concerns in the field of urban management and planning It will develop students' understanding of how their own urban experiences are shaped by broader historical, cultural, economic, and social forces, and will enable students to compare the Australian urban context and issues with those in other world regions.

And one elective

Spring session

People, Place and Social Difference

This unit focuses on the local experiences of cultural and socio-economic difference. This includes applied social science approaches to inequality, diversity, community, sense of place, and environmental sustainability in the urban setting. There is an emphasis upon spatial literacy for social scientists (fieldwork, mapping, data analysis and place description).

Working with Communities

A diverse range of professionals use social science research, theories and principles in their work with communities. In this unit students will explore common scholarly ideas and debates that inform work with communities and how these are applied in a range of professional settings. This unit introduces students to the methods and principles of community participation, capacity-building, community needs assessment, and resilience. Students will be guided to identify and analyse global, local, government and organisational aspects and interests in the development of their own and wider communities. Students will plan a professional approach to working with an example community by building and reporting on a chosen case study.

Development and Sustainability

The unit introduces the basic concepts relating to sustainability and development, and explores their relevance to real-world situation at the local, national, and global levels. The causes of unsustainability as well as their short-term and long-term effects on society and the environment will be evaluated. Students will analyse, using appropriate sustainability indicators and social change theories, a social change initiative (i.e., program, project, policy) designed to integrate the socio-economic, cultural and environmental dimensions of sustainability within the context of a specific developmental focus (e.g. poverty alleviation, gender equality, human/social development, heritage conservation, biodiversity, tourism, green accounting, sustainable livelihoods). Students will engage in problem-based learning skills in order to critically analyse and discuss current issues in development, and provide solutions to sustainability.

And one elective

Year 2

Autumn session

Social Research Methods

Social Research Methods is the first of three units in the core of the Social Sciences that address social research practices in the social sciences. In this introductory unit we begin with the question: “What is social research?” and an overview of social research, the significance of research in the social sciences and the range and purposes of research in the social sciences. Students will learn about the research process, its epistemological and theoretical underpinnings; ethical questions in social research; research design and methodology; methods of data collection and data analysis; and reading and interpreting research and its impacts.

Cultural and Social Geographies

Examines the nexus between culture and place. Contemporary cultural planning issues include; local community relations, social planning, place management, place redefinitions, selling place, ethnic concentration, cultural precincts, and the spatial politics of gender and sexuality. The roles of cultural products in carrying spatial information and reinforcing identity are examined. Introduction to cultural and social geography, and developments in cognate fields of cultural studies and anthropology. Key theories of identity. Case studies range across religion, gender, sexuality, class and nationalism. The analysis and assessment advances a politics of difference, anti-racist, social justice perspective.

And two electives or Pool units

Spring session

Ethics in the Social Sciences

This unit introduces students to the nature of western ethics and moral discourses, to ethical methodology and to the possibilities and limits of ethical discourse and practice. It covers the history of the formalisation of ethics as well as its current philosophical and sociological dimensions. It also deals with various case studies of ethical issues and moral debates students may encounter in their everyday day and professional lives. Students will be invited to reflect on moral discourse(s) and on the use of ethics for social justice and fairness.

The Economics of Cities and Regions

'Economics of cities and regions' introduces the major political-economic issues facing cities and regions. Class discussions investigate how political-economic forces (such as globalisation, structural change etc) shape the development of cities and regions. Class activities enable students to apply economic principles to urban and regional planning and policy decisions, and teach students to analyse the social and distributional impacts of policy and planning decisions.

Analysis of Spatial Data

The making and the use of maps. This unit involves the critical examination of the way geographical data is produced, analysed, mapped and used to inform both private and public decisions. Natural environment, health, accessibility and residential amenity are examples of phenomena that have an important geographical dimension. Policy responses to these phenomena need to be specific with regard to locations and places. Geographic information systems software and census will be used to produce maps based on the analysis and interpretation of data relating to the student's field of interest.

And one elective or Pool unit

Year 3

Autumn session

Applied Social Research

In this unit students continue their education in social research, building on 400337 Social Research Methods. Students gain experience in using tools and techniques for the collection, analysis and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data using real world examples. They gain experience in using various primary and secondary sources of data and designing the collection of data through surveys and interviews. Students will also examine the application of research to, for example, program evaluation and policy development, thus preparing students for professional contexts as generators and critical consumers of social research.

Planning the City: Development, Community and Systems

This unit aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the role of government, focusing on the role and nature of planning across all levels of government from a variety of theoretical frameworks. It presents a critical examination of the urban development and planning processes, with particular attention given to the environmental and political issues associated with planning at the local government level. It looks at the changes and challenges confronting local government in view of the demands made on them by the changing social and economic conditions and societal values such as those relating to requirements for public participation, transparency and accountability. The unit also examines the role of private sector in planning and assessment processes.

Transport, Access and Equity

This unit examines the equity and efficiency issues in the provision of transport in cities and regions from a critical social science perspective. Issues of transport disadvantage and policy and planning responses to improve access to urban services are examined. The social and environmental impact of transport systems are considered in the context of urban management.

And one elective or Pool unit

Spring session

Contemporary Social Issues and Professional Practice

Focused upon professional practice this unit will provide Social Sciences students with an opportunity to improve their career readiness. Using a combination of practical and theoretical teaching framework, this unit will teach students how to translate their social science knowledge to professional, career relevant knowledge. In doing so, it will also provide students an opportunity to engage with contemporary social issues related, for example, to diversity, work and employment, place, sustainability, violence and alternative to violence, health and cyberworld and cyber-experiences.

Geographies of Migration

An international and cross-institutional discussion of immigration and settlement. Covering the theory and experience of immigration. Considers the international and national regulation of immigration and settlement policies, as well as refugee policy. Case studies are from Australia and Canada, and Singapore. Within mixed tutorial groups (with students from Singapore, Vancouver & Sydney) students will exchange experiences and opinions of immigration.

Indigenous Cultures: A Global Perspective

Drawing on global case studies, this unit aims to introduce students to some of the pressing socio-cultural issues facing indigenous peoples around the world. The unit examines the complex relationships between globalisation, colonialism and post-colonialism and contemporary indigenous cultures and identities. It draws attention to the way in which issues of representation, cultural autonomy, cultural commodification, development and human rights play out with respect to indigenous peoples’ lives. More specifically, the unit interrogates the power relations and politics central to many of these issues and examines the nature of contemporary indigenous and non-indigenous interactions, particularly in the contexts of tourism and heritage, the cultural industries, the environment, development and urbanisation.

Urban Design

The unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the nature, role and relevance of urban design. It will examine the issue of urban design at both the micro and macro scale. It also aims to promote awareness of, and sensitivity to, design considerations, and to enable students to critically evaluate urban spaces and places. A key feature of the course will be the development of the graphical communication skills of students.

Students are also required to complete two of the following pool units

Pool Units

Issues in World Development: Rich World, Poor World

This unit introduces students to the field of international development, where the divide between the rich world and poor world takes a centre stage. While development has created prosperity around the world, it is not without discontents. Social and economic inequality at the global level is a real problem and has been increasing. The ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ world paradigm will be critically examined. Students will be equipped with theories and practicum examining development, underdevelopment and their related issues within a contemporary political, economic and social framework. Students will also have exposure to current global development debates such as poverty, global inequality, sustainable development, democracy and security.

Sustainable Futures

In this unit we will explore the questions 'can we create a sustainable society? If so what would it look like and how could it be done; is it possible to live ethically with each other and the planet?' While major contemporary theoretical concepts will be explored the emphasis is on developing sustainable alternatives to the way we now live both locally and globally. Particular attention will be paid to thinking ecologically, postcolonial development and issues of race, gender.

Heritage Interpretation

This unit examines the theory and practice of heritage interpretation for visitors at natural and cultural heritage sites. It examines the development of heritage interpretation within national parks and museums and explores the various issues facing contemporary interpretation in the context of multicultural and postcolonial societies and the advent of digital media.

Tourism Policy and Planning

This unit gives students a general understanding of planning theory as it relates to sustainable tourism policy and practice. Students will apply this knowledge to tourism sites, facilities and activities in Sydney with a major project focusing on Sydney Olympic Park. A self-guided fieldtrip will allow students will analyse various planning techniques, tourism policies, scenario mapping strategies and conflict resolution practices. Students will learn how to present their ideas by integrating quantitative and qualitative data, both in teams and individually. At the conclusion of this Unit students will have the skills to apply planning theory to an analysis of tourism policies, sites, facilities and activities in global cities such as Sydney.

Housing Markets and Policy

From 2014 students in 1678 - Bachelor of Social Science (Pathway to Master of Urban Management and Planning) should take 101905 - Indigenous Cultures: A Global Perspective. Housing affordability and access are significant urban problems. This unit focuses on the past history and current challenges of housing markets and policy in Australia. Comparisons are drawn between rental and home ownership trends and supports, the roles of the public, social, and private sectors, and between Australian, European, and North American housing markets and policies. Discussions critically evaluate how policy and markets interact. Examining trends in local housing markets and in the structure of housing finance provides a basis for discussions about how housing policy could better respond to the evolving challenges of volatile markets.

Sub-major elective spaces

Elective units may be used toward obtaining an additional approved sub-major (40 credit points).

Search for sub-majors

Western Sydney University offers sub-majors in a range of areas including Sustainability and Indigenous Studies.

Indigenous Australian Studies Sub-major

Business Sustainability Sub-major

Students can apply for an elective major or sub-major via MySR.

MyStudentRecords (MySR)