Master in Urban Regional and Planning (Development Planning)

Development can be broadly defined as the process of improving the quality of people’s lives. In South Africa, the development process includes: addressing the enormous backlogs in infrastructure and services; strengthening the economy; ensuring meaningful community and stakeholder participation; building the capacity of local government and other institutions; integrating areas divided by apartheid; and, promoting sustainability and sound environmental management.

Development Planning is a means to achieve such objectives. It is concerned with the co-ordination and preparation of policies and programmes that will contribute to social and economic upliftment. There are many different sectoral planning processes ( involving health, education, welfare, water, housing, land reform etc.) but development planning is multi-faceted and inter-sectoral in approach. It sets out to integrate fragmented processes of planning and development and focus attention on strategic priorities. In a context where there are numerous demands on scarce resources, development planning should provide a framework that will ensure that the allocation of these resources is efficient and fair. Development planners may also work within particular sectors, but they bring they bring to bear this broader understanding. Development planners may work in both the policy arena and in the sphere of implementation. They can work for various government departments, for local authorities, non- governmental organisations, and for private consultancy firms.

Development planning is located in a context of globalisation and rapid change at all levels. The development planner must therefore understand the implications of global transformation as well as the requirements of the local context. A good development planner will also understand the limits of development planning within a market-driven economy, and the need to produce plans that contribute to the agenda for change in South Africa but are also realistic, achievable and sustainable.

Course outline

A development planner must have a strong conceptual understanding of development issues internationally and in South Africa, as well as of development theories. At UND, the development planning course also focuses strongly on urban, regional, and rural development, as well as on the concepts of planning and policy development. Development planners also require knowledge and skills in specific areas. Potential focus areas include: current government policy and legislation, local economic development, economics of development, environmental management, land development processes, the delivery of infrastructure and services (e.g. water, roads, electricity), institutional development, community participation, financial planning and budgeting, project packaging and implementation, and research methods.

First Year

The first year programme aims to provide a broad overview of development issues and development planning. The first semester is focused on providing a conceptual understanding of development, while the second semester is oriented to urban and regional development, and to integrated development planning processes.


Courses: First Semester

  • Comparative International Development Problems and Policies (Dev Studies: first quarter)
  • Economics of Development (Dev Studies: first quarter)
  • Option (Dev Studies: second quarter)
  • Research Methods (Dev Studies: second quarter)

Courses: Second Semester

  • Urban and Regional Development (URD) (comprises: Urban Processes in Developing Countries; Regional Development and Planning)
  • Planning Theory and Public Policy (PTPP)
  • Integrated Development Planning (IDP)
Second Year

The second year of study is divided between work towards a dissertation (64 credits), and study in more specific areas (72credits). The Proposal component of the dissertation is undertaken in the first semester, and the dissertation itself is written thereafter.

Compulsory courses

Development and Planning of Cities (Planning: 16 credits, 3rd quarter)

Professional Practice (Planning: 8 credits)

Students must choose an additional 32 Development Studies credits from the following list:

  • – Agriculture
  • – Population and Development
  • – Poverty and Inequality
  • – Informal Economy
  • – Demographic Methods
  • – Civil Society and Development
  • – Migration and Urbanisation
  • – Social Policy
  • – States Institutions and Development
  • – Introduction to Population Studies

Students must choose another 16 credits from Planning courses below, or Development Studies courses listed above

Metropolitan Planning and Development (extension of Development and Planning of Cities)

Local Economic Development (2nd quarter – 32 credits)

Implementation in Integrated Development Planning (2nd quarter)