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APL8020 : Design with Plants and Ecological Greenspace Management

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Ms Stef Leach
  • Lecturer: Dr Usue Ruiz Arana, Mr Clive Davies
  • Visiting Lecturer: Professor Catherine Dee
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


To introduce students to the range of scientific and horticultural knowledge applicable to designing with plants and ecological landscape management. To introduce and develop skills in planting design and an understanding of the role of landscape management in the care of land to ensure that landscapes can fulfil needs and aspirations in an effective and resilient manner for present and future communities of users (human and non-human).

Outline Of Syllabus

The module covers the following:

The principles of botany, ecology, horticulture, geology, soil science and climatology applicable to planting design and management.

Introduction to plant materials for landscape design, and the art of designing with plants.

Selecting appropriate material for site and environmental conditions, including waterside planting.

Aesthetic considerations in planting design: scale, texture, colour, form etc. Functional aspects of planting: shade, shelter, structuring space, groundcover, screening etc.

Ecological principles in planting design: biodiversity and maintenance considerations.

Planting plan conventions. Plant schedules. Preparing a planting plan.

The role of planting in the climate and biodiversity emergency: carbon absorption of planting materials

Long term maintenance and management of greenspace.

Students will also go on short guided walks around the campus and city centre, looking at examples of planting. There will be a day visit to a nursery and/or a botanic garden.

Students will also complete a landscape management plan for a designed landscape. Aims and objectives of the designed landscape are linked to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: 3 (good health and well-being), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture62:0012:00Present in person.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching32:006:00PIP practical sessions conducive to the production of a landscape management plan.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching32:006:00PIP in studio planting design tutorials in small groups.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork28:0016:00Site Visit subject to prevailing Covid-19 guidance.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1160:00160:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is structured around a lecture course which introduces students to sciences with a bearing upon designing with plants and long-term maintenance and management. The module also utilises experiential learning, as the lectures are linked to a series of practical tasks. At the outset, these are quite delimited (e.g. weekly exercises) but they become more complex and more creative as the module progresses (e.g. creation of a detailed landscape management for a designed landscape). Landscape planning and management students work alongside landscape architecture students for a project, which becomes the subject of the landscape management plan.

Site visits guided by local professionals (e.g. to local planted schemes and/or nursery) give students the opportunity to connect their theoretical knowledge to real life scenarios.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M1002000 words. Landscape management plan associated with a designed landscape.
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Practical/lab reportMFour short practical exercises associated with weekly lectures.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The acquisition of knowledge and skills is assessed through a series of pass/fail exercises undertaken over the course of the module. In the latter half of the module students are also required to produce a landscape management plan for a designed landscape, which tests the extent to which students are able to usefully synthesise knowledge gained over the course of the module.

Reading Lists