Masters in Civic Design celebrates Platinum Jubilee

On World Town Planning Day 2022, the University of Liverpool’s Department of Planning celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the first student cohort graduating from its flagship Masters in Civic Design programme.


Liverpool is home to the world’s first Planning School, founded in 1909, and the Masters of Civic Design (MCD) was created by Lever Chair Professor Gordon Stephenson in 1950 in response to the huge reconstruction task facing post-war Britain and the critical shortage of trained planners. The course sought to respond to the major implications of the 1947 Planning Act and the potential impact on the teaching of planning .

This year the Department of Planning celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the first planning student cohort graduating from that programme in its Platinum Anniversary Celebration for World Town Planning Day 2022.


Over its 70 years, 1,455 students have graduated from the MCD with alumni taking up influential positions in the UK and across the world including David Morkel who graduated in 1991 and is Director of URBIS Limited, a planning, urban design and landscape consultancy in Hong Kong with over 28 years of international working experience in Hong Kong, the UK, the UAE and China.

Another MCD graduate, Peter Geraghty, is a leading figure in the profession and was a former President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). He has continued to represent town planning, both Nationally and across the Commonwealth, throughout his career and is currently Executive Director at Hertsmere Borough, Hertfordshire.

As an MCD student, Kim Power was awarded the ‘Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize’.  Kim is currently Principal Urban Planner with Arup having previously held roles with Liverpool Vision, Liverpool City Council, and the UK Towns Fund project.

The programme continues to develop and respond to the changing demands of spatial planning and evolving global issues including climate change.


It has full accreditation from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the programme enables students to embark on a career of professional practice and meets the educational requirements of the RTPI.

MCD students are entitled to student membership of the RTPI during their studies, enhancing their career development and offering access to a wide range of resources including an extensive network of planning practitioners.

The MCD programme now offers a highly regarded Master’s course which provides employer’s with ‘practice ready’ graduates to meet the current demand for planning professionals across all sectors.

Looking ahead

The MCD continues to remain relevant and has a number of exciting developments planned. In addition to the ‘traditional’ MCD in Spatial Planning, from 2023/24 the Department will also offer an MCD in Urban Design. This new variant of the MCD provides students with the opportunity to study an RTPI-accredited Masters programme with a specific orientation to the practice of urban design.

Dr Catherine Queen, who graduated from the MCD in 2011 and received the Holford Prize for being an “outstanding candidate” went on to complete her PhD at the University of Exeter whilst working in private practice. She returned to the Department as a lecturer in 2021 and currently teaches on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes including the MCD.

She said: “The MCD has proved popular among students and for many students it has led to a rewarding career in planning. It continues to meet the aspirations of the founder, Professor Gordon Stephenson Lever Chair at Liverpool in 1948, is as relevant and forward-thinking today as it was in 1952. On World Town planning Day, we are taking this opportunity to reflect on the past, present and future of the RTPI accredited MCD programme as it continues to meet the needs of planning professionals faced with the global challenge of creating sustainable and resilient places.

“As the World’s first planning school we are proud to remain a centre of excellence for innovative and influential research and scholarship whilst maintaining our reputation as a leading provider of high quality professional education.”

If you’d like to find out more about the range of programmes available to study in the Department of Planning, please visit this webpage.

Image: The staff and students of the Department of Civic Design taken in June 1952 in the courtyard of the new building.