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PLAN411 Planning Theory

A review of the philosophical and theoretical basis of the activity of planning; the origins and significance of planning debates. Examination of comparative planning approaches and the application of planning theory to practice.

This paper explores key debates regarding the nature and purpose of planning and develops students' understanding of the influence of theory on the development of planning practice. Students examine the relationship between theory and practice, the theoretical developments that have shaped and continue to shape planners' thinking and approaches. It examines key theories within the context of both the historical and contemporary developments in planning, exploring the debates these raise in planning within the planning profession. The paper, therefore, asks students to consider the roots of planning thought and practice and their application to current planning dilemmas and debates both locally and globally.

Paper title Planning Theory
Paper code PLAN411
Subject Planning Studies
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,282.09
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,357.07

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Also available for BAppSc, BAppSc(Hons), and other approved students.
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator: Professor Claire Freeman
Paper Structure
Class sessions will take a lecture and discussion format. Students are expected to read in advance of each session using the material provided on Blackboard.
Teaching Arrangements
  • 60% coursework (3 assignments worth 20% each)
  • 40% final examination
Course readings are required for this paper. On Blackboard you will find an extensive range of readings for each topic.

You are also expected to use references available in the library and papers available through e-journals.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the historical, cultural and philosophical underpinnings of current planning practice
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of key planning theories
  • Discuss knowledgeably the relationship between planning theory and practice
  • Apply, as appropriate, theoretical knowledge to current planning debates and issues internationally and in New Zealand

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 15-22
Wednesday 10:00-11:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22