Planning Theory and History

Subject ABPL90134 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 hours per week
Total Time Commitment: 140 hours
Prerequisites: None specified
Corequisites: None specified
Recommended Background Knowledge: None specified
Non Allowed Subjects: None specified
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr David Nichols


Environments and Design Student Centre
Ground Floor, Baldwin Spencer (building 113)

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

This subject was formerly called Planning Thought and Action.

Current practices of urban and regional planning have emerged as a human response to the range of circumstances surrounding settlements over time. This subject provides students with a grounding in the main theories of planning over the last two centuries as a means of understanding present-day planning practices and debates in an historical context. Accordingly, students will develop understandings of the contexts in which planning emerged as a response to concerns with a range of circumstances over time. These include: public health, technological change, environmental degradation, economic development, social justice, and conceptions of order and aesthetics. An integrated programme of lectures, readings and tutorials provide students with the materials to answer a series of related questions that chart the development over time of planning. The evolving responses to the enduring questions of planning, such as: ‘what is planning; why plan; how to plan; and what or for whom do we plan?’ are charted over time. The Australia response, in an international context, is emphasised to provide a critical lens upon current Australian planning, providing a basis for subsequent subjects in the Masters of Urban Planning Program.


On completion of the subject, students should have:

  • understanding of major themes in past and present urban planning, and major theories influencing urban planning internationally and in Australia;
  • ability to critically analyse ideas about planning in the light of current practice;
  • ability to discuss, present and write coherently about the debates and themes of planning.
  • Five tutorial papers (750 words) (5 X 10%), one presented every two weeks.
  • Class and tutorial participation (10%).
  • Two one hour in-class closed book exams (20% each), one mid semester, one at the end.
  • Project report.
Prescribed Texts: None specified
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Ability to analyse social and cultural contexts.
  • Critical thinking and analysis.
  • Development of logical arguments.
  • Critical evaluation of policies and practices.
Related Course(s): Master of Urban Design
Master of Urban Design
Master of Urban Planning

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