University of Otago Master of Planning

Programme Structure

Each candidate follows a personally prescribed course of study designed to accommodate their strengths and professional goals.

First Year

The first year of the MPlan Programme will normally comprise the following papers:

Paper Code Title
PLAN 411 Planning Theory
PLAN 412 Spatial Planning and Evaluation
PLAN 435 Planning Case Study I
LAWS 515 and one of  LAWS 521, LAWS 540
Planning Law
PLAN 438 Planning Practice
Planning relating paper  

These papers lay the ground work in planning theory, formulation and implementation; impact assessment and policy evaluation; bicultural planning issues and the statutory and administrative context of planning practice. Students are also taught hands on skills to analyse planning problems, to develop policy recommendations and research skills.

Students may be permitted to substitute alternatives to the core papers, with the approval of the programme coordinator.

Second Year

In the second year students have two options, usually intended to reflect students' intended specialism and intended career path. Under normal circumstances students are expected to undertake the thesis option (Option 1 below). The option to be taken by each student will usually be decided towards the end of the first year of the course, in consultation with the programme coordinator. The choice of topic will depend on the availability of supervisors with relevant research expertise. A research proposal outlining the intended research must be submitted in early November of the first year of study.

In some instances, students may find it useful to choose their topics in consultation with a central, regional, or local government agency.

EITHER: Option 1

Paper Code Title
PLAN 5F Thesis
PLAN 535 Planning Case Study II


OR: Option 2

Paper Code Title
  Two approved planning related papers
PLAN 590 Planning Research Project
PLAN 535 Planning Case Study II

Planning Related Papers

The selection of planning related papers must be done in consultation with the programme coordinator. Papers offered in Geography taken by planning students in recent years have included:

  • GEOG 454 Alpine Geomorphology
  • GEOG 457 Advanced Urban Geography
  • GEOG 459 Biogeography
  • GEOG 460 Climatology
  • GEOG 461 Mountain Hydrology
  • GEOG 471 Impact Assessment and Sustainability
  • GEOG 472 Developments in Environmental Management
  • GEOG 473 Contemporary Geographies of Southeast Asia
  • GEOG 474 Coastal Management
  • GEOG 475 Sustaining Rural Livelihoods in Developing Countries


Papers offered by other departments have included:

  • Marine Conservation Biology (Marine Science Department);
  • Principles of Wildlife Management (Zoology);
  • Spatial Information Studies (Surveying);
  • Maoritanga (Maori Studies);
  • Organisational and Human Resource Management (Management);
  • Environmental Law (Law);
  • Principles of Nature Conservation (Botany)
  • Sport and leisure (Phys Ed).