Global Opportunities

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 ideological, 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. 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. The module also provides broad theoretical frameworks which can guide the students’ dissertations in semester 2.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will cover the following themes. The order may change according to staff availability.

•       Introduction to the Module and the Assignment
•       What is theory for, what sets theories apart from each other, why use theory in research?
•       Positivism and rationalism
•       Marxism and structuralism
•       Modernism, postmodernism, post-structuralism
•       Pragmatism
•       Democratic politics: Aggregative, deliberative and agonistic perspectives
•       Complexity and actor-network theory
•       Knowledge, power and evidence-base
•       Deep uncertainty and resilience thinking
•       Imagination, spatial imaginaries, and utopian planning

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials142:0028:00Selected reading and other materials complementing lectures and workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Lectures covering the themes of the module. Backed up with podcasts & Power Points on Canvas
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion175:0075:00Writing up of written assignment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading322:0064:00Reading an research to support learning and preparatory work for the assignment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00Interactive workshops to apply theory to practice. 3 parallel groups facilitated by staff.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:305:00Tutorial support towards learning and assessment & opportunity for asking questions & feedbacks.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Through blended teaching and learning an overview of planning theory is provided which covers various schools of thoughts and their critiques. Examples from planning practice will help making links between theory and practice in planning.

The blended teaching and learning includes lectures and interactive workshops backed up by recorded podcasts. They consist of: an introduction to the module and assignment; a range of lecture materials including: introductory lectures and lectures covering the themes of the module; in-depth engagement through reading selected papers or watching short videos / listening to podcasts which will then be discussed as a cohort in the workshops to learn more in- depth knowledge of planning theory and its application in planning practice. Also, drop in Q&A sessions will provide tutorial opportunity to answer questions about the lectures and the assignment and gain students’ feedback.
The selected readings provide the students to critically reflect on planning practice. All activities aim to support and guide students in the preparation for assessed coursework.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M90An individual essay, 3000 words (exc. refs), critically reviewing a theory and applying it to a planning case discussed in W. Shops.
Case study1M10Active participation in 4 case study workshops.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay along with active participation in 4 case study workshops test 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 assessment meets three key objectives:
1.       To prepare students to become aware of various planning thoughts and the political nature of planning
2.       To alert students to multiple perspectives on the what planning is and what it is for
3.       To encourage students to develop critical thinking and professional reflexivity

To complete the essay, students need to actively participate in workshops, familiarize themselves with a planning theory and a case study of planning practice that has been discussed in the workshops. They need to know the main features of that theory and be able to use it to assess their selected planning case. They also need to deploy their own critical thinking and argumentation skills to provide a robust and compelling assessment of their selected case.

Reading Lists