Module Catalogue 2020/21

TCP3054 : Planning Theory and Politics

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Andrew Law
  • Lecturer: Mr Sean Peacock, Dr David Webb, Dr Josep-Maria Garcia-Fuentes, Dr Moozhan Shakeri
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



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

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

To introduce and develop knowledge of planning theory and its relationship to planning practice
To integrate planning theory with knowledge of planning history and urban theory from stages 1 and 2
To develop an understanding of the political and ethical dimensions of planning practice
To develop an awareness of the critiques of planning as a practice
To develop in students a personal, reflective response to theoretical critiques of planning

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to demonstrate:
The ability to synthesise information
The ability to think critically and apply theoretical concepts to planning practice
Clear written communication skills
Problem solving abilities related to critiques of planning practice

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.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 word essay which unpacks a planning theory.
Essay1M502000 word essay applying a theory from the course to a case study within the workshops and/or from practice.
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.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.