GY448      Half Unit
Social and Political Aspects of Planning

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alan Mace


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies and MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Geographic Data Science and MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The number of students that can be accommodated is limited. If the course is over-subscribed, places will be allocated at the Department’s discretion and a waiting list may be created. For further details, please contact your relevant Programme Coordinator.

Course content

The course seeks to bring into conversation with one another the theory and practice of urban planning. Planning is understood as a discursive practice where issues are framed and policy is generated through multiple parties employing both data and lived experience. We therefore focus on how planning processes are deeply embedded in the social. Rather than offering training in particular planning tools such as impact assessments, which vary from setting to setting, the course provides you with skills to critique planning practices. You will look at key planning ideas such as the neighbourhood, community and participation. We consider the implications for practice of the increasing complexity of planning both within and across jurisdictions including sub-regions and regions. In the latter weeks we bring various aspects of the course together through case studies of different planning practices in various national settings. The course is primarily focused on planning in the global north as it draws on our practice and research experience, but examples are included from the global south.


In the Department of Geography and Environment, teaching will be delivered through a combination of classes/seminars, pre-recorded lectures, live online lectures and other supplementary interactive live activities.


This course is delivered through a combination of seminars and lectures across Autumn Term.


This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Autumn Term.

Formative coursework

Students will submit a 1,500 word assignment.

Indicative reading

  • Friedmann, J., 2011. Insurgencies: Essays in Planning Theory, Routledge.
  • Joss, S. 2015. Sustainable Cities; Governing for Urban Innovation. Palgrave.
  • Sanyal, B., Lawrence, J.V and Rosan C.D.R. 2012. Planning Ideas That Matter. MIT Press.

Once on the course, all key readings are available online being either journal articles or electronic book chapters.


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the WT.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 41
Merit 38.9
Pass 20.1
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Geography and Environment

Total students 2022/23: 44

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication