Development of infrastructure is inevitable and relevant to the growth of a country. A career in urban development will give you first-hand access to sustainably developing a city. We detail how you navigate a career in Urban Development in the UK below.

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Academic Routes

Technical Routes

Academic Routes

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Further Education

Higher Education

What do I need?

While careers within Urban Development are vast, each requires the knowledge of how to develop and design fixtures concerning land use and the built environment.

It is useful to have a working knowledge of environmental issues, and some info on using CAD. High-level jobs will more than likely require a related postgraduate qualification. However, there are other roles in the field you can immerse in which we explain here.

Further Education

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BTEC Diploma

Access to Higher Education

Further Education is considered Level 3 education in the UK (England, Northern Ireland, and Wales). The most common further education route is A-Levels, but it is not the only option. There are coursework based courses like BTEC. To pursue a Bachelors degree (Level 4) or any other undergraduate qualification, you must complete this level of education first.


A-Levels are exam based courses taken post-secondary education. Usually, people take from 3 A-Level subjects as most university courses require at least 3. Urban Development accepts a range of educational backgrounds at this level.

If you have decided what career you would pursue within Urban Development (e.g. zoning inspector, urban planner) you can pick other A Levels subjects that are similar to it. Some suggested A-Level subjects may be in Geography, Economics, Law. Nonetheless, the A-Level subjects you choose can be varied.

Do note that A-Levels are not practical. Which means if you do not intend on pursuing further study, you should be building experience in your field while studying. Read more about Internships here.

What qualifications do I need for A-Levels?

A-level courses will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are mandatory to possess. It is best to check the specific requirements of the university or college you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

To find A-Level courses search online or Contact us for help.

BTEC Diploma

The process of obtaining these qualifications are more practical in comparison to the more theory-based academic A-Level. You are assessed solely with coursework.

These qualifications are available at different levels from Levels 1-3. At Level 3, the diploma can be equivalent to up to three (3) A-Levels. BTECs can be taken alongside other qualifications (such as an A-Level) and can permit entry to university.

For Urban Development, universities typically are interested in students who have Economics and Social knowledge. Therefore a BTEC in Social Sciences or Business is a great way to go.

What qualifications do I need for BTEC?

Depending on the BTEC diploma you’re pursuing; Level 3 BTEC diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the university you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

To find BTEC courses search online or Contact Us for assistance.

But what if I’m over 18 and I have no Level 3 qualifications? We got you below.

Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education aka Access to HE is tailored for students aged 19+ who intend to apply for an undergraduate course. These courses take one year, performing as a fast track to higher education.

Universities will typically be looking for students with a business-based background. Access to Higher Education courses in Business, Social Science etc. are among good options for subjects related to Urban Development.

What qualifications do I need for Access to HE?

Access to HE diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

To find Access to Higher Education courses search online or Contact Us for assistance.

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Higher Education

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Foundation Degrees

Undergraduate Degrees

Postgraduate Degrees

All degrees or qualifications in town planning need to be certified by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Likewise, most surveyor courses would be accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If you are a RICS qualified surveyor, this may increase your salary band.

Foundation Degrees & Foundation Years

Foundation courses can be taken if your results/tariff points accumulated in a Level 3 qualification were not high enough to allow entry to a standard three-year Bachelors course.

There are two foundation options:

  • Foundation Degree – a standalone qualification (1-2 years) equivalent to one or two years of a Bachelors degree. A top-up degree can be taken afterwards to get the full Bachelors degree.
  • Foundation Year – this is the first year of a four year degree consisting of = 1 foundation year + 3 years of a standard Bachelors degree. At the end of the four-year course, you will receive the same qualification as a three-year Bachelors degree student.

For example, UWE Bristol offers BA Property Development and Planning including a Foundation Year, which lasts for four years. Taking the foundation version of the course would require at least 72 tariff points while the standard three-year degree route would require at least 112 tariff points.

After you complete the Foundation degree qualification you can complete a top-up which takes one year to achieve the full Bachelor’s degree.

What qualifications do I need?

It often varies per university and course with the usual requirement being at least 60 tariff points. Check the entry requirements per course on UCAS.

To find Foundation courses, enter your area of study and search Foundation degrees here. In the filters select Foundation to only view Foundation courses.

Undergraduate Degrees

All applications to undergraduate courses are accessible via UCAS. Undergraduate courses can come in the form of foundation degrees, HND or Bachelors level. 

Urban Development is on offer as a degree in the UK. As explained, entry into Urban Development can be taken from various educational disciplines, therefore you do not have to do a degree titled Urban Development to work in this field.

If you are unsure which sector you would like to get into; you may benefit from doing a standard Urban Development degree. For more varied choices, Combined/Joint Honours courses or courses with a variety mix of subjects may be better suited to you.

Examples include BA Architecture and Urban Planning, BSc Real Estate in Urban Planning and Development, BA Education Studies and Global Sustainable Development.

Searching Urban Development courses on UCAS throws a wealthy bunch of universities for you to choose from.

How do I choose which degree?

With the copious choices given, it may make it difficult to decipher which is best for you.

To start narrowing it down, we suggest you first look at the entry requirements to the course and assess your existing or prospective exam/coursework results.

Next, have a look at the modules done by the university and assess if those are relevant to your career if you’ve already chosen. Also view the teaching quality at the university.

Finally, use comparative websites like Discover Uni or the Complete University Guide to compare course satisfaction and other statistics to make informed decisions.

If you have sports or other extracurricular interests you can research universities which offer these to keep your hobbies alive.

Tip: Some university courses offer an integrated placement year (otherwise known as a sandwich) where you get the option to work in your industry. This provides you with at least one year of experience in your field before graduation.

To view all higher education options and courses, enter your area of study and search courses here.

What qualifications do I need?

It varies per university but largely universities require at least 112 tariff points. Grades in A-Level tend to be at least BBC-AAA for Urban Development related courses. BTEC diploma grades required tend to be at least DMM. Check the entry requirements per course on UCAS. Some courses have foundation entry options which allow you to gain the Foundation qualification and continue the course with lower entry requirements.

Postgraduate Degree

If you already have an undergraduate degree and would like to make a career swap, or you would like to pursue further education we’ve got options for you.

To progress in your career specialisation is key and a good method of doing this is through postgraduate study. Urban Development is also offered at Postgraduate level so that can be your avenue to specialisation.

If you have never done an Urban Development related degree, volunteering or any means to generate experience while pursuing the postgraduate qualification would be essential.

Similar to applying for an undergraduate degree, click here to view options and courses, enter your area of study and search courses. Filter options to Postgraduate. (Some postgraduate courses may not be listed on UCAS so do independent searches online).

Technical Routes

Possible entry-level job routes into the Urban Development sector without a degree can be found as a construction worker, and more.

Familiarise yourself with different aspects of urban development around the world to build your knowledge. Building relationships with professionals in the industry can build your network and knowledge base and this can be done through volunteering and internships.

The following are technical developments to improve your chances within a career.


On an apprenticeship, you’re employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification, usually for one day a week either at a college or training centre. By the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll hopefully have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level. – Prospects

To find an apprenticeship through in the UK click here >>


Completing an internship can help you to gain crucial experience. These can be found via LinkedIn, and/or simply via Google.

You can source internships directly by researching engineering, architecture, construction or project management companies online.

If you discover that internships are not being advertised, you can still apply but you will need to pitch to the Hiring Manager and convince them on why you should be offered an internship position at their company. If you would like some advice on doing that Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Have a browse of some internships in the UK here >>


Try not to decline unpaid opportunities especially if you have no experience, if you can afford it. Eventually, you may be offered a position as a paid employee. Remember, you are building an invaluable network and you gain a head start in your field due to on-the-job learning.

Enquire at various engineering, architecture, construction or project planning companies to seek work shadowing or voluntary work and gain experience.

For volunteering opportunities in the UK click here >>

Independent Research

Use online resources to build knowledge in your field. Keep abreast with the news, and listen to podcasts or books about your field.

YouTube is your best friend. There are many videos available teaching you more about urban development. Find your niche and the information will be easier to research.

Listen to our podcast episode on Urban Development with TCIG’s Senior Quantity Surveyor, Dominique Durham.

To find out what immigration hurdles you must pass to pursue education in the UK click here. For financial 411s click here.

Unsure about what Urban Development is? Read our explanatory post here.

Need help applying for university in the UK? Click here >>
Posted by:Nandina Hislop

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