Planning Theory and History

Subject ABPL90134 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

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

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 hours per week
Total Time Commitment:

140 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


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 each), due weeks 2, 4, 6, 7 & 10 – 10% each
  • Take-home test (2000 words), given to students in week 12 (students have three days to complete the test) – 40%
  • Class participation – 10%

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
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Melbourne School of Design multidisciplinary elective subjects (without prerequisites)

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