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This unit provides a theoretical and conceptual foundation for advanced studies in urban and environmental planning. The unit covers the diverse functions and purposes of planning. You will have the opportunity to think critically about the philosophical and historical underpinnings of planning as a discipline, and the interactions between planning theory, wider social theory and planning practice. Different approaches to planning and their relative merits are considered, especially their importance for informing planning practice. We will examine the roles and responsibilities of planners in different capacities and contexts, including government, non-government and private sectors. Different planning methods such as strategic planning, adaptive planning, and community engagement are evaluated. Australian planning institutions are also reviewed – across federal, state, regional and local planning scales – and we examine relevant policies, processes and legislation. You will participate in practical activities to develop your skills in planning, including data analysis, plan evaluation, site assessment, risk management and project management. Upon successfully completing the unit you will understand what planners do, why we plan, how we plan, who is involved in planning, planning tools and processes, and how we can tell if planning has achieved its goals.

Summary 2020

Unit name Critical Planning: Theory, Process and Applications
Unit code KGA511
Credit points 25
Faculty/School College of Sciences and Engineering
School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences
Discipline Geography and Spatial Sciences

Prof Jason Byrne

Teaching staff

Level Postgraduate
Available as student elective? No
Breadth Unit? No



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* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (see withdrawal dates explained for more information).

About Census Dates




Teaching Pattern

Interactive lectures, seminars, workshops and fieldwork (4-hrs weekly over 13 weeks), plus course readings and discussion sessions.


Seminar presentation (20%); Analysis of weekly readings - 4000 words (25%), 3,000 word Synthesis essay (25%), Group fieldwork plan evaluation project (30%)

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



Information about any textbook requirements will be available from mid November.


Hay, I. (2012) Communicating in Geography and the Environmental Sciences, 4th edn., Oxford, South Melbourne

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