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TCP8034 : Planning and Sustainability

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Cat Button
  • Lecturer: Professor Geoff Vigar, Mrs Qianqian Qin, Dr Jane Midgley, Dr Raymond Abdulai, Mr Clive Davies, Dr Paola Gazzola
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


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 sustainable development, from its origins to the more current debates about climate change and how to plan and manage our changing environment and consumption-driven lifestyles. What sustainable development means in different countries around the world and in the UK, and the challenges that arise are another facet that the module will reflect upon. 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
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Writing up of written exercise
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Present in person lectures including discussion opportunities
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, a programme has been developed for each session/theme. This consists of a synchronous lecture or a synchronous discussion session based on pre-recorded material (flipped classroom) which will provide students with weekly live contact with academics, an opportunity to meet the various contributors to the module and to meet each other.

For each theme, students will explore more in-depth by reading a selected paper, which will 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 sessions for which the template does not apply. This is when a session will be delivered by an external guest (Environment Agency, tbc) 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 sustainable development, 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 sustainable development is applied in practice, and of the challenges in doing so. The non-synchronous online discussion boards provide students with the opportunity to discuss further 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 sustainable development, 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. Surgeries/drop-ins will be offered throughout 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 sustainable development 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