Course Title: Planning for Community Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Planning for Community Development

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

Please note that this course may have compulsory in-person attendance requirements for some teaching activities. 

To participate in any RMIT course in-person activities or assessment, you will need to comply with RMIT vaccination requirements which are applicable during the duration of the course. This RMIT requirement includes being vaccinated against COVID-19 or holding a valid medical exemption. 

Please read this RMIT Enrolment Procedure as it has important information regarding COVID vaccination and your study at RMIT: 

Please read the Student website for additional requirements of in-person attendance:

Please check your Canvas course shell closer to when the course starts to see if this course requires mandatory in-person attendance. The delivery method of the course might have to change quickly in response to changes in the local state/national directive regarding in-person course attendance. 


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian McShane

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 8236

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 11

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

The course is concerned with the use of a range of planning approaches and processes, to meet the needs of diverse communities in multiple and complex contexts. It focuses on the issues of community and participatory approaches to development in all contexts and upon increasing the sustainability and well being of all communities. The course includes a consideration and examination of ways of promoting empowerment, capacity building, and self-development within a rigorous framework of governance. Community participation is seen as central to the process, with local decision making and community development as key objectives. External actors are also considered in their role of assisting communities in meeting their needs. These include the voluntary sector (eg. non-governmental organisations), bi- and multilateral aid organisations and the United Nations. Part of the work for the course will be based on case study materials and you will be required to augment course materials with those relating directly to your specific interests. The course also includes a strong focus on the development of academic skills.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

The objective of this course is to begin to apply theories of planning and community development in a range of contexts. The course will explore ways of working effectively, ethically and sustainably, in myriad roles, with diverse communities, at multiple levels. Many such communities may be comprised of very vulnerable groups, often subject to external pressures as a result of globalisation and micro-economic/structural readjustment. Communities always have potential for self-improvement and political mobilisation. As a result, planners, policy and development workers must understand the motives and values of community residents and community leaders if their planning activity is to be understood and engaged in such locations. Such a vision must also inform macro planning and policy development at the national level. Students will have the opportunity to review cases of successful community development and the potential that can exist in diverse communities.

Learning outcomes

  • Familiarity with a range of theories of community development.
  • Familiarity with key debates in planning, community development and international development relating to ethical practice, participatory models and localism.
  • Skills in application of theories of planning and CD in myriad local and international contexts.
  • Development of key capabilities in academic research, critical analysis, academic/report writing and structure.
  • Development of reflective and practice based skills, including ethics, the professional self and the role of values.

Overview of Learning Activities

This course will employ a learner centred model which requires students to bring new concepts and course materials to their personal sites of interest. A short thematic information exchange session (mini-lecture) will occur at the outset of each class; the majority of the time will be in small group workshop settings, discussing the application of material in situated contexts. Workshop learning activities will include problem analysis and teamwork in a multidisciplinary environment. Weekly requirements for this course will include sharing critical analysis of weekly reading with colleagues and regular engagement with posts on the Discussion Board. Considerable attention will also be paid to the development of academic skills, such as written argument, critical analysis, essay and report structure and academic citations.

Overview of Learning Resources

Course readings (available electronically online from the course site accessed via MyRMIT) provides the basis for weekly reading and workshop discussion.

Overview of Assessment

The assessment will be a combination of formative and summative assessment designed to extend your learning in comprehensive elements of community development and planning.

Assessment tasks may include reflective journals and workbooks, short papers and/or formal essays and reports.