Study Abroad and Exchanges



TCP3054 : Planning Theory and Politics

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module examines the ways in which the practice of planning has been imagined, explained and justified. It addresses the political and ethical dimensions of planning practice using the lens of various theories of planning, power and urban development. It considers the distributional aspects of planning and a range of political and organisational rationalities that shape and constrain planning practice. Overall, the module aims to develop a strong constructive critique of planning practice, to engender greater reflexivity in students about the position of the planner in urban change.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will cover the following themes:
Introduction and overview of planning theories and typologies.
Facts and values – (it’s all politics!)
Power and intervention
Political and organisational rationalities (including neoliberalism and expertise)
Changing urban theory
What is the public (who do we plan for)?
Key schools of planning theory:
Critical pragmatism
Political economy
Communicative and collaborative

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading182:0082:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops62:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide an overview of the key issues and theories along with relevant case studies. The workshops provide structured discussion of particular issues through a mixture of small-group tasks and plenary discussion. Five of the workshops will be structured around answering questions for the first assessment, the sixth workshop will be a peer review session, where students can discuss their draft responses. The drop in/surgery session will be in week 12 and will be an opportunity for feedback on draft essays for the final assignment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M50Coursework: Based on workshops, short response to a series of questions set at beginning of module. Approx 2000 words, due in Dec.
Essay1M502000 word essay on a vision of planning practice for 2020, due in January.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Workshops will involve discussion of key political problems in planning practice and short answers will link theory to problem solving in these cases. The aim is to develop individual understanding of planning theory and politics through group discussion. The assessment is based on short write ups of discussion results.

The essay tests the ability of the students to think creatively and critically about planning practice through using new theories and integrating these with knowledge introduced in earlier stages of the programme. The focus of the question is deliberately not an application of theory to an existing problem, but rather an opportunity for students to develop their own theoretical synthesis. This provides a different form of intellectual challenge to other assessment across stage 3 of the programme.

Reading Lists