Event REVIEW – Navigating the RTPI Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) – 28 September 2015

October 14, 2015

On the 28th September 2015, RTPI London in collaboration with Transport for London (TfL) held an event on Navigating the APC. We are very grateful to TfL for allowing us to host the event at their offices at 55 Broadway.

The event centred on a presentation from Hilary Lush who is the Senior Membership Officer of the RTPI and looked mainly at the new guidance for those submitting in November 2015 and beyond.


Any candidates submitting in November and beyond should refer to the 2015 consolidated guidance which is also now on the RTPI website.

To apply through the APC route, candidates must have,

Completed a fully RTPI accredited degree


24 months’ spatial planning experience, at least 12 months of this experience must be as a Licentiate Member


a log book detailing a minimum of 12 months’ recent experience (full-time equivalent) as a Licentiate Member.

The Written Submission consists of three elements of the APC which are, Professional Experience Statement (PES), the Professional Competence Statement (PCS) and the Professional Development Plan (PDP). Hilary explained that the Log book is not formally assessed but advised that it is crucial that candidates start using it early and put in as much as detail as possible..

On the Practical Experience Statement (PES) section, Hilary explained this section should include the type of employer, a description of role and the type of planning work undertaken for the candidate’s entire practical experience period. The professional level planning experience does not mean administration or technical but rather using your judgement to influence space and planning outcomes – the assessors want to see evidence of career progression that would justify election to chartered membership.

Next is the Professional Competence Statement (PCS) where candidates need to meet eleven criteria in order to be successful. Hilary explained each of the criteria. Hilary advised you to choose between one and three case studies and not break up into different sub headings Some competencies are core, others require application or understanding.

Understanding – Demonstration of how the competency applies to your case study from a theoretical or observational viewpoint. Whilst your personal experience of the competency is not essential, your understanding of how and why the competency applies to your case study should be apparent.

Application – Demonstration of how the competency applies to your case study from a personal practical viewpoint. Your personal experience and evidence of depth of knowledge of the competency are essential.

Core – Demonstration of how the competency is integral to your actions as a professional planner. This is more than just the application of your knowledge, it should be core to how you operate and be imbedded throughout your case study.


C1. Professionalism and the RTPI Code of Conduct (Core)

C2. The spatial planning context (Application)

C3. Identifying and analysing issues (Application)

C4. Gathering appropriate information (Application)

C5. Identifying and evaluating a course of action (Application)

C6. Initiating and implementing a course of action or dissemination and application of knowledge (academic research) (Application)

C7. The legal framework (Understanding)

C8. Ethical challenges (Understanding)

C9. The political framework (Understanding)

C10. The economic context (Understanding)

C11. Reflection and review (Core)

The third element of the APC submission is the Professional Development Plan (PDP), where it is about how candidates would like to develop professionally. It is not just about their current role but also more about the next two year period professionally as a planner. The PDP element contains Goals; Objectives; and, an Action Plan in which all of them should be inter-related and refer to the weaknesses aspect of the SWOT analysis. Under the new guidance, candidates who are only deferred on this module will still progress to chartered membership but will have to undergo a PDP support phase; more information on this process can be found on the RTPI website. Hillary really stressed the importance of the PDP and that candidates must now use the template available online. The plan is active two years from submission and actions must be SMART.

  • Specific: Precise about what you want to achieve
  • Measurable: How will you know if you have achieved the objective?
  • Achievable: Be realistic!
  • Relevant: Objectives should relate to your personal or professional development
  • Time based: Set a time frame in which the objectives are to be reached

The General Presentation of the APC Submission is taken very seriously by the assessors as the MRTPI is a professional qualification. Hilary advises candidates to both planners and non planners to proof-read the APC submission and it should be clear and easy for both to understand what you do in you job. Spelling and grammar needs to be checked. Word counts must absolutely not be exceed. The word count is set at 5,500 words (+10%) Hilary highly recommends that candidates cross-reference their log book to the APC submission.


The logbook can be kept for two years but the assessors enforce a minimum of one year. Ideally the log book should cover the whole licentiate period. Hilary showed the log book template to the audience and mentioned that some candidates struggle with it – her advice was, “write something down, you can edit later on. Backdating it just makes it difficult”. Going through each column on the log book template, Hilary explained that the fifth column (“What skills/knowledge do you feel you need to develop”) is about reflection where candidates can describe what went well, what made them nervous, what they did not know and how they would fill any gaps in skills/knowledge.


Hilary noted the type of experience that can count towards the APC.

  • Full or part time or a combination of both (pro rata).
  • Paid or voluntary.
  • Experience gained in the UK or overseas.
  • Experience spread over a period longer than the 24 months (it does not need to be consecutive).
  • Experience gained prior to the Licentiate period*
  • Experience gained whilst undertaking a degree or further studies**

*Though at least 12 months needs to be gained during the Licentiate period.

**Not including one year intensive master’s course.

Essentially the recommendation is to count anything which is over three months, was attained whilst not on an intensive master’s course and was considered to be relevant planning experience, i.e. you attained skills and competencies linked back to the competencies required for this APC.

Mentoring relationship

Having a mentor on board for candidates is not compulsory but it is nonetheless a resource. It is best to have a mentor who is not your direct line manager, it could be someone else at your workplace or even a planning professional outside of work. Mentors need to be familiar with competencies and up to date with the guidance on the website but do not need to be in exactly the same type of planning job role as the candidate. It is important when you are submitting your APC that anyone is able to understand your job role and how you meet the key competencies. It may even be beneficial in some instances to have support from someone who is removed from your workplace. The mentoring relationship is confidential, even if coming from different departments in the workplace.


  1. Read the guidance.
  2. Hold the relevant level and amount of experience.
  3. Demonstrate ALL the assessment criteria.
  4. Focus on PDP.
  5. Use the resources available to you.
  6. Select your case studies carefully.
  7. Be critical.
  8. Reference the submission to the logbook.
  9. Proof-read and check your submission.
  10. Start early.

There is a wealth of guidance on the RTPI website and some members of the RTPI London committee who have completed their APC have uploaded their hints and tips on the APC process to our blog – https://rtpilondoncalling.wordpress.com/we-are-london-young-planners/apc-interviews/

Good Luck!

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