PLAN30050 Comparative Planning

Academic Year 2019/2020

Planning and urban management systems vary considerably internationally. Differences in history, culture, ideology, law, economy and society mean that there are significant differences in planning policies, planning law and ultimately in the outcomes of planning systems. The module aims to introduce students to the comparative study of different approaches to planning and planning systems in different national and city contexts. It will provide a framework for the comparative analysis of planning systems and practices across the world. Students are encouraged to reflect about the context-specific nature of planning and the legal, social, political, economic and/or environmental conditions underpinning planning practice in different national, regional and city contexts. Students are also invited to consider the issues and challenges associated with the international mobility of planning and urban policy knowledge and practices.

The key module aims are:
1. To provide an understanding of the purposes, principles and methods of comparative planning study and the potential and challenges of cross-national comparison and learning

2. To develop an awareness of the ‘context-dependent’ nature of planning as an activity embedded in different national, cultural, political and spatial settings

3. To consider the different traditions of ‘planning in Europe’

4. To understand the context of ‘planning for Europe’ as regards the competence of the EU to influence matters relating to spatial planning and territorial development, and the impact of European programmes and initiatives on spatial planning in EU member states

The module provides an opportunity for students to visit another country to see how in practice another planning system addresses key planning issues. This fieldtrip will provide the basis for an individual assignment. For students unable or not wishing to attend an international fieldtrip, the module can be completed through additional desk-based research to complete an individual assignment.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should:

1. Understand the importance of different contexts in determining planning outcomes in different countries;

2. Critically appreciate the context-specific nature of planning and the legal, social, political, economic and/or environmental conditions underpinning planning systems, cultures, policies and practices in the different contexts examined;

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the value and challenges of cross-national and cross-cultural comparative studies;

4. Engage with the professional and academic debates regarding the global circulation of planning ideas, models and practices and critically reflected on their transferability / the potential for cross-national lesson drawing from abroad; and

5. Understand the growing importance of spatial planning at the level of the European Union.

Indicative Module Content:

During weeks 1-6, classes will consist of a module coordinator-led seminar, followed by working in groups focused on assignment 1 (National Planning System Profile).

Topics to be covered in the seminars include: understanding dominant models of international planning practice; comparative planning research (with case studies); developing a framework of comparative analysis; the mobility of planning ideas; European spatial planning.

Group presentations will be undertaken during week 7

For students opting for an international field trip: the field trip will take place to a selected European city during the second week of the spring trimester half term break (16-20 March). Following completion of the field trip, students will complete an individual assignment through self-directed learning.

For students not undertaking a field trip: following the half term break, students will be allocated desk based research to complete an individual assignment.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Field Trip/External Visits


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is delivered through a mix of lecturer-led seminars, group work (comprising case-based learning), and class presentations. For students undertaking the international field trip option, field-based learning will be central to completing the individual assignment. For students not opting for the field trip, the module will comprise additional desk-based research to undertake an enquiry-based learning task. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
PEP20080 - GIS Planning Project, PLAN20020 - GIS Planning Project

Comparative Planning (PEP30150)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Group Project: Group-based assignment. Topic: International Planning System Profile Week 8 n/a Graded No


Assignment: Individual assignment. Topic: International City Profile Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The first assessment comprises a group assignment to provide a profile of planning system in an allocated country. Group work will be undertaken in class, providing weekly opportunities for feedback on progress and ideas. Prior to submission of the report, each group will give an in-class presentation - feedback will be provided to each group to assist in finalising the written report. Post assessment feedback will be given (oral and written) to each group within 20 working days of the group submission. The second component of assessment is an individual report on a City Profile. Post assessment feedback will be given (oral and written) to each student within 20 working days of the submission.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.  
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Spring: All Weeks Wed 12:00 - 13:50