CP0312 - Planning Theory and Practice

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCP0312
External Subject CodeK400
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Alun Thomas
SemesterAutumn Semester
Academic Year2015/6

Outline Description of Module

The module stands back from the details of planning policies and instruments, and asks questions about how we might understand some of the key ideas used, and assumed, by those engaged in the planning system. These include ideas such as ‘the public interest’, and ‘heritage and conservation’. An organising framework for the module is different ways of understanding what being a professional involves.  Particular attention will be given to the idea of the planner as technician, and the contrasting idea of the reflective practitioner. The understanding developed in the module is used to illuminate aspects of everyday planning whose significance might go unnoticed in discussions with a more procedural focus.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  1. Set out and evaluate major approaches (in planning theory) to questions about the nature, purpose and methods of spatial planning.
  2. Use concepts and approaches from planning theory to analyse debates and innovation in contemporary spatial planning practice.
  3. Discuss some competing approaches to understanding planning practice
  4. Undertake independent critical reading in an unfamiliar subject area within planning
  5. Reflect on their own professional development and learning in a structured way

How the module will be delivered

The module will be taught through:

Skills that will be practised and developed

Deep reading of academic texts

Communicating and contributing constructively to  group discussions

Writing  for academic audiences

How the module will be assessed

Type of assessment





(if applicable)

Approx. date of Assessment



Comparing the ideas of Jane Jacobs and Donald Schon about the nature of planning knowledge





Analysing a planning episode using theoretical concepts such as the public interest










The opportunity for reassessment in this module



Students are permitted to be reassessed (usually once) in a module which they have failed, in line with course regulations. The reassessment will usually take place during the summer.




Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 40
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 60
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

The module’s scope extends beyond models of planning; but these models can provide starting points for thinking about many topics. So, for example, the technical model of planning (and its rivals) provide different ways of understanding and answering :

Essential Reading and Resource List

Allmendinger, P  (2009) Planning Theory  2nd ed London, Palgrave

Jacobs, Jane (1963) ‘The kind of problem a city is’, excerpt from Death and Life of Great American Cities’, in Hillier, J and Healey, P eds

Critical Essays in Planning Theory Vol II .Political Economy, Diversity and Pragmatism  Farnham, Ashgate, 137 -157

Schön, D (1991) The Reflective Practitioner p/b edition Aldershot, Ashgate chapter 2

Taylor, N  (1998) Urban Planning Theory since 1945 London, Sage

Background Reading and Resource List

Brooks, Michael P(2002)  Planning Theory for Practitioners  Chicago, Planners Press

Campbell, S and Fainstein, S eds (2011) Readings in Planning Theory  3rd ed Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell

Friedmann, J (1987) Planning in the Public Domain Princeton, Princeton University Press

Sandercock, L (1998 )Towards Cosmopolis  Chichester, John Wiley

Thomas, H and Healey, P eds (1991) Dilemmas of Planning Practice Aldershot, Ashgate

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