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TCP8034 : Planning and Sustainability

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ruth Machen
  • Lecturer: Dr Jane Midgley, Mrs Qianqian Qin, Mr Clive Davies, Professor Geoff Vigar
  • 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: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


To consider practically and theoretically how spatial planning and design can contribute to the sustainable development agenda.
To develop skills in critical analysis of development proposals and planning policies in relation to their environmental implications.
To introduce students to a range of tools that might improve the sustainability of planning and foster sustainable development.
To develop an understanding of the problems, causes and planning responses to sustainable development.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will introduce students to the multi-faceted concept of sustainability, from its origins to the more current debates about climate change and how to plan and manage our changing environment and consumption-driven lifestyles. It will examine what sustainability and sustainable development mean in different countries around the world and in the UK, and the challenges that arise in implementing it. From a planning perspective, the module will examine how different forms/areas of spatial planning can be used in reduction, mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Different forms of environmental appraisal are also introduced, and the role that they can play in addressing environmental challenges and in supporting planning in the formulation and delivery of more sustainable policy outcomes, is discussed.
Overall the module will apply a global approach when exploring conceptual issues, and a more detailed approach when reflecting, and looking into practice issues from a UK planning perspective.
To make an effective thoughtful and creative input into planning processes and systematically evaluate the environmental implications of development proposals and planning policies, the development of critical reflective and applied knowledge and skills is considered central to the module.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Present in person lectures including discussion opportunities
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Writing up of written exercise
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading381:0038:00Reading lists provided for each theme in support of learning and assessment
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:00Selected reading relevant to content covered
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00Conclusions, Q&A and feedback.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module is team taught and covers different themes. To provide consistency in teaching delivery, each session/theme will include a synchronous lecture or a synchronous seminar session. For each lecture/seminar, students will also be recommended a selected paper, which will help to explore the subject more in-depth. This may then be discussed as a cohort in-person (or in a non-synchronous online discussion board facilitated by that week’s academic contributor). The discussion will be guided by questions, based on the reading given.

There are two circumstances where this format will not apply: where a session will be delivered by an external guest and in the conclusions to the module; both sessions require a more interactive approach. The sessions will be recorded, and made available for those that are unable to attend.

The lecture materials covering different topics aim to provide a conceptual background for understanding sustainability, and how it is mainstreamed at different spatial levels and applied in different contexts.

The readings provide students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of how sustainability and sustainable development are applied in practice, and of the challenges in doing so.

Discussions and interactive exercises provide students with the opportunity to discuss and practically explore the complex issues explored in the lecture materials and in the selected readings in a structured way, to critically reflect on the interactions and tensions between the different dimensions of sustainability, and their implications on a proposed development – with the support of independent reading.

All activities aim to support and guide students in the preparation for assessed coursework. An assessment clinic/surgery will be offered in the final session of the module to assist further with coursework preparation.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100Critical review of a planning document (e.g. a development site brief) in terms of sustainable development 2,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

As sustainability is central to planning thinking and practice, the assessment for this module focuses on what sustainability and its different interpretations mean and on what role planners should play in promoting sustainability. The assessment has three objectives:
1.       To prepare students to be more aware of sustainability issues and of how as a planner, they can encourage developers to propose and produce more sustainable development
2.       To introduce students to one of the ways in which planning can set a ground for more sustainable development, as well as introduce students to a particular type of planning practice document (form, style, layout, and type of information)
3.       To encourage students to start working as professionals and develop the skills and know-how needed to translate and apply the academic content of the lectures into real development and policy briefs.
To complete the assessments, students will need to reflect on their own understanding of what sustainable development means and on their own position of what planning for sustainable development is and should entail (e.g. weak or strong approaches), and use this understanding to carry out a critical review of a planning document (e.g. a development site brief) of their choice.

Reading Lists