MSc Global Urban Development and Planning

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
International Planning: Systems and Frameworks

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60861
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Planning and Environmental Management
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


  • Issues of analysing international planning systems through a comparative perspective
  • Definitions and conceptual concerns regarding international planning terminology
  • Historical foundations of planning practice, including legal, administrative and institutional frameworks
  • European approaches to planning as well as EU trans-European planning policy
  • Planning within a devolved UK policy environment
  • North American planning practice, governance and institutional frameworks, issues of localism, and zoning control
  • Asian planning policy and the development of hybrid approaches to planning practice within Asian countries
  • Planning practice in the global south and the role of informal planning systems
  • Country-specific case studies from Europe, Americas and Asia


  • To provide a grounded theoretical understanding of how the planning system and legal arrangements are shaped by the social, political, administrative and economic contexts.
  • To utilise a cross-national comparative perspective to develop critical thinking skills related to how planning policy and practice travel across different contexts.
  • To examine planning approaches and their underlying design concepts in selected countries drawn from Asia, the Americas and Europe covering the global south and north.
  • To develop the critical skills and logical reasoning to appraise different types of planning arrangements.
  • To develop a more informed understanding of how to assess and engage in spatial planning practice under different socio-economic and institutional contexts.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, Seminars, and Presentation

Knowledge and understanding

Have an understanding of how planning systems are shaped by different spatial contexts, judicial-legal frameworks and socio-cultural traditions.

Intellectual skills

Familiarize with the principles, design and practice of planning systems in different countries.

Appreciate the value of cross-national learning regarding both its potential and limitations while respecting the diversity of culture, values and ideologies of planning.

Practical skills

Presentation skills, group working, writing skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Develop the skills of comparative analysis, logical reasoning, and applied evaluation through the presentation, group discussions and the assignments.

Assessment methods

Seminar: Presentation of a short statement on the paper discussed and printed copy of this statement up to 200 words in length (5%)

Group oral presentation (15 minutes) and accompanying written brief on the international diffusion of ideas  (20%)

Individual essay (2500 words) on international planning frameworks (75%)

Feedback methods

Seminar: Immediate oral feedback during the seminar

Presentation: Immediately following the presentation and written feedback within 15 working days via Blackboard and by personal appointment

Individual Essay: Written feedback provided within 15 working day and by personal appointment


Recommended reading

Booth, P. (1995) Zoning or discretionary action: certainty and responsiveness in implementing planning policy, Journal of Planning Education and Research,14 (2): 103-112.

CEC (1997) The E.U. Compendium of Spatial Planning Systems and Policies. Luxembourg: Office for the official publications of the European Communities.

Healy, P. & Upton, R. (2010) Crossing Borders: International exchange and planning practices. London: Routledge.

Newman, P. & Thornley, A. (1996) Urban Planning in Europe. London: Routledge.

Reimer, M., Getimis, P., & Blotevogel, H. (2014). Spatial planning systems and practices in Europe: A comparative perspective. In Spatial planning systems and practices in Europe (pp. 21-40). London: Routledge.

Sanyal, Bishwapria, (ed.) (2005) Comparative Planning Cultures, Routledge, London.

UN HABITAT (2009), Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, Planning Sustainable Cities, London: Earthscan.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andreas Schulze Baing Unit coordinator

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