Course Title: Planning Theory

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Planning Theory

Credit Points: 12


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 2 2006


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Wendy Steele

Course Coordinator Phone: 52302

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 8.11

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course introduces you to theories and concepts related to the nature, purpose and policy practices of planning. It is a course designed to bring together theory and practice in what is generally termed praxis. Ideally, theory should underpin planning practice at all levels, in all types of plan- and policy-making. In turn, practice should inform theory. Theory, therefore, helps planning and environmental practitioners to understand the environments (social, economic and environmental) in which they work and how they work. The course will not provide you with recipes or templates for ‘how to do’ planning and environmental policy-making and implementation. Instead, it will raise questions and issues, which enhance our capacity to think about planning practice and the ‘practical judgments’ that have to be made.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course delivers the following program learning outcomes:

  • Critically analyse, synthesize and reflect on complex theories and recent developments in urban planning, policy and management, both local and international, to extend and challenge knowledge and your scholarly and professional practice
  • Critically analyse and reflect on the interplay of economic, political, social, cultural and ecological factors in urban planning and apply to your scholarly and professional practice
  • Effectively argue and advocate for a preferred set of policy outcomes to help address urban and environmental planning, policy and management challenges

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to achieve the following learning outcomes:

-Critically review the main traditions of thought, key authors and their work in fields relating to planning theory and practice

-Analyse relationships between planning theories, governance and policies

-Relate theoretical concepts and debates about planning processes to case examples in policy and practice.

-Identify when different theories are being used, or could be used, to evaluate and design processes in policy and planning practice.


Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities include lectures (face to face or available online) and structured discussions. If you are studying online structured discussions will be conducted at specific times online through Canvas communication tools.

Structured discussions are based on your readings of key texts, in which you will explore some specific aspects of theories, answering questions and relating the theories and concepts to planning and environmental policy practices, referring to your own personal and professional experiences as appropriate.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by your lecturer, including books, journal articles and web resources. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning. 

Overview of Assessment

There are four main items of assessment: 1) A Written journal which critically reviews the key readings including theoretical insights and practical application (30%); 2) Tutorial participation and reflection (10%); 3) An individual presentation based on the weekly course topics/readings and application to planning issues in the media (10%); and 4) A major essay of 3000 words focused on applying selected planning theory and concepts covered in the course to an individual case study of a recent planning decision (50%).

You will be assessed on the above learning outcomes and graduate capabilities. Feedback will be provided throughout the semester in class and/or online discussions, through individual feedback on practical exercises and by individual consultation.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 the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.

A student charter summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online:;ID=c15i3ciaq8ca