Course Title: Planning for Community Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Planning for Community Development

Credit Points: 12.00


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 examines planning rationales, processes and outcomes directed towards identifying and meeting the needs of diverse communities in multiple and complex contexts. The course focuses on planning for, with and by communities. It focuses on the issues of community and participatory approaches to development in all contexts and upon increasing the sustainability and wellbeing 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.   

The course examines the interface of planning and community development through four themes or lenses: 1) culture and identity; 2) infrastructure and services; 3) environment, space and place; and 4) well-being.  

We approach the concept of community(ies) as spatially bounded and apply these themes across three locations: inner-urban, new growth areas; regional and rural. We integrate these perspectives within social-ecological and systems models.  

Part of the work for the course will be based on case study materials and you will have an opportunity 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.

Course Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Acquire knowledge of ideas, tools and techniques of community development and engagement  
  2. Become familiar with key debates which impact the fields of planning and community development and relating to justice, sustainable futures, participatory models and ethical practice  
  3. Develop skills in applying social theories to planning and CD in a range of local contexts  
  4. Develop key capabilities in critical analysis, report writing, communication, and policy development and evaluation skills  
  5. Development of reflective and practice based skills, including ethics, the professional self and the role of values.

Overview of Learning Activities

Offered in intensive mode, the course is organised as eight modules which focus on structures, theories and practices of community development and their nexus with the breadth of work with which planning and planning policy is concerned. Learning activities will include workshop-style presentations by and dialogue with a range of guest presenters who will discuss case studies of community participation and community building from governmental, civil society and community perspectives. Learning activities also include individual and group work directed towards completing assessment tasks, as well as a group presentation. 

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.  

Course readings and written texts and media associated with case studies (available electronically online from the course site accessed via MyRMIT) provide material relevant to assessment and workshop discussion. 

There are services and resources available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. 

Assessment tasks will include individual and group assignments that assess skills in understanding and applying social and political theory, policy and data analysis, communication, and teamwork. 

Assessment Tasks

AssessmentTask1: My Community 30% (1500 words) - CLO 1,2,3   

- Individual assignment 

- Designed to develop skills in combining theoretical and empirical sources to conceptualise and describe a community of your choice and assess community strengths and weaknesses using a model of community capital. 

Assessment Task 2: Research Portfolio (Our communities: Themes and policy implications), 30% - CLO 3,4,5  

- Group assignment 

- Designed to develop skills in synthesising data and identifying high-level social, economic or environmental characteristics or trends at regional scale, formulating appropriate policy and planning responses, working in teams, and communication. 

Assessment Task 3: Prepare a submission for a community development initiative, 40% - CLO 1-5 

- Individual assignment 

- Designed to apply theoretical, empirical and practice knowledge acquired during the course to the preparation of a submission for a community development initiative.  

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.  

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.