REMP02-Planning Theory, Politics and Practice

Module Provider: Real Estate and Planning
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2022/3

Module Convenor: Prof Gavin Parker

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module discusses various conceptions of planning intervention in theoretical terms and relates this to the politics of planning in practice.


This module provides students with an in-depth understanding of various conceptions of planning intervention in theoretical terms and relates this to the politics of planning in practice. The unique aspect of the module is the integration of theory and practice looking to apply different theoretical perspectives directly into practice-based examples, culminating in a debate and essay (50%). To ensure learning coverage is achieved in depth the module is also assessed through examination (50%). 

Assessable learning outcomes:

Upon completion of this module, students should be able to: 

  • use conceptual frameworks to understand and analyse the planning process; 

  • critically evaluate these conceptions and the debates surrounding them; 

  • understand and assess the political context of planning; 

  • understand and assess the impact of theoretical/political ideas on planning practice; 

  • dissect a contemporary planning issue using theoretical ideas. 

Additional outcomes:

The module will also develop Web-based learning skills involving literature searching, research, and case study exercises which may include a group presentation and role-play.

Outline content:

The work is set out according to the major epistemological ideas that underpin the different conceptions of the planning process. After introducing the role and utility of theoretical ideas in understanding and changing planning practice, the lectures then explore a range of different 'models' which seek to understand and explain the nature of planning intervention in modern societies. In the spring term, attention is turned towards the politics and practices of planning policy and related actors, while reflecting on the theoretical and conceptual elements covered in the first part of the module. This latter part of the module encourages students to think about how theory is and can be used to prepare and instigate better planning practice. This is embellished through the group project and presentation on this aspect of planning knowledge. The topics covered include: 

  • Mapping planning theory; 

  • Rational comprehensive planning and the incrementalist critique of planning; 

  • The New-right /neo-liberal critique of planning; 

  • The Marxist critique of planning; 

  • Post-Structuralist conceptions and critiques of planning; 

  • Role of the state, institutions and actors; 

  • Planning, politics and professional ethics; 

  • Environmental justice, ethics and human rights; 

  • Theory and the making of plans; 

  • Community planning and governance; 

  • Planners as networkers and facilitators. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is introduced in week 1 of the autumn term and then delivered using a combination of lectures, web-based learning and review tutorials. These mechanisms are supplemented by practicals which support student work in a role-play exercise. The University's Blackboard course information system is used to provide students with module material and structured web-based learning blocks that provide an intensive grounding in the subject areas.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Tutorials 1 1
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 100
    Exam revision/preparation 78
Total hours by term 120 1 79
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Two hour written examination. 

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Essay 2,500 word limit.

Formative assessment methods:

Debate exercise

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:
The pass-mark for this module is 50%.

Reassessment arrangements:

A student may elect to resit one component if the student has achieved a pass mark in the other component but reassessment will be by the same method as for the module’s original assessment requirements, subject to variation where appropriate and agreed by the Examination Board.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 22 September 2022


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