TCP2034 : How Public is Public Space? An interdisciplinary perspective (Inactive)


Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


1.To explore key concepts of urban design, particularly urban public space.
2.To investigate, in a muti-disciplinary way the ‘publicness’ of public spaces.
3.To understand how to use the analytical ‘Star Model of Publicness’ in assessing contemporary urban public spaces.

Outline Of Syllabus

In recent decades there has been a burgeoning debate about the loss of ‘publicness’ in contemporary urban spaces. This module takes up the challenge to find an objective way to prove or disprove this phenomenon. By taking students through a systematic and multi-disciplinary literature review of key texts it explores the deceptively simple question: ’What is publicness?’ It will help students to answer this through two approached a new theoretical approach - ’The dual nature of public space’, and further the application of a new analytical tool for measuring it - ’The Star Model of Publicness’. This pragmatic approach to analysing public space will then be tested on public spaces in the region. By examining where and why certain public places fail, students will be able to develop informed interventions to improve them, and through this understand the contribution of public spaces to the creation of attractive, sustainable and resilient cities.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00Lectures introduce the topic and provide the knowledge basis for the coursework
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical28:0016:00On site application of ‘Star Model’
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops82:0016:00Seminar discussion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00Sessions to answer specific queries by group
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1140:00140:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will provide students with a theoretical understanding of the subject as well as a practical understanding of the ‘Star Model’ technique. Students will then apply the ‘Star Model’ to public spaces of their choosing in Newcastle and provide possible positive interventions to help make public spaces more successful based on their reading of the current academic literature on the subject ad their own data gathering and analysis. (Intended Knowledge Outcome 1 and Intended Skills Outcome 2)
The practical represents one entire day that the students spent in the public space chosen for analysis (12 h) plus the 4h preparation for this – 2 h preliminary site visit and 2 h meeting to discuss practicalities of observation day.
(Intended Knowledge Outcome 2 and 3 and Intended Skills Outcome 1)
The workshops are a space where the students debate one or two key readings on the topic covered during the lecture that week and also where they work in groups on their Assignment 1 and work towards their Urban Design Journey essay for Assessment 2.(Intended Knowledge Outcome 3 and Intended Skills Outcome 3).
The drop in sessions are where students can come and explain difficulties they might encounter during the Module, alone or in their group so that more targeted learning support is given.
The independent study is needed for the students to cover key texts suggested in the lectures and discussed in the workshops and also for them to work on Assignment 2 which needs them to record key moments of their learning journey as they go along the Module, so that they have a good preparation for undertaking the reflective: My Urban Design Journey. (Intended Knowledge Outcome 1 and Intended Skill Outcome 4).

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Design/Creative proj2A70Group presentation of the Star Model Analysis of a chosen local public space
Essay2A30Individual Written Essay: My Urban Design Journey - 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessment 1: In small groups of 4 - 5, the students will each chose a public space using Newcastle as an urban laboratory and undertake observation of the sites by applying the Star Model of Public Space (Varna, 2014). Each group will spend an entire day 12hrs in each site looking at both the physical elements of urban design and at the social life of the space to understand where improvements can be made to make each public place more public: more inclusive, better designed and more vibrant. Each group will present their results in an oral examination lasting 20 minutes (plus 10 mins Q&A after), where they will have to do a presentation of their results and proposed improvements, by utilising PowerPoint.

Assessment 2: The Logbook: My Urban Design Journey is intended to give the students a space to develop the needed reflexion skills in their future practice. As for many of them this is the first time they will encounter the field of urban design, this assessment encourages them to take note of key moments in their learning journey throughout the module, both on a conceptual and practical level (lectures, workshops and assessment 1 project) and clearly express these in a written piece in the shape of a illustrated Logbook, and which can be of their chosen form: diary; essay; report to allow for creative thinking and delivery.

Group work will be marked in accordance with the SAPL group work policy.

Reading Lists