MSc Environmental Impact Assessment & Management

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Cities

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60852
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit introduces the field of Green Infrastructure, green space planning and the development of sustainable cities by addressing the principles, values and utility of each concept within a broader examining of urban planning in the UK and internationally. Drawing on a case study material from across the world the course unit examines the influence of socio-cultural change, environmental management and the economics and politics of urban development to question how and where we use landscape resources to meet quality of life and place agendas and why these differ between locations. Through an examination of the relationship between the landscape, planning policy and human behaviour the course unit highlights opportunities to implement various approaches to urban greening at a number of scales. It also draws links between the role of Green Infrastructure planning in supporting sustainable city objectives and discusses how we manage and monitor this process. This is achieved by assessing the alternative methods used to valorise and evaluate the functionality of urban and landscape development. At the end of the course unit students will have a more in-depth understanding of the planning mechanisms that govern the development of Green Infrastructure resources within sustainability debates. The course unit will also provide students with the socio-economic and ecological knowledge they require to evaluate the added value that urban greening, Green Infrastructure and the development of sustainable urban landscapes can provide in real world planning scenarios.


On completion of this unit successful students will be able to: 

  1. Introduce the concepts of Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Cities from their historical antecedents to their current use;
  2. To discuss the value of Green Infrastructure and the planning of sustainable cities, as a mechanism for addressing biodiversity, climate change, health, water management and wider urban greening issues;
  3. To examine the management frameworks of urban landscapes, environmental resources and green space planning, and debate the utility of evaluation and monitoring techniques available to environmental managers;
  4. To introduce the policy context of Green Infrastructure examining the influence of political will, financial incentives and social needs in developing greener and more sustainable urban environments;
  5. To develop an understanding of how Green Infrastructure and sustainable urban thinking can, and are being, implemented through a more in-depth assessment of a series of global case studies.
  6. Be able to reflect on the ways in which Green Infrastructure can facilitate alternative individual, communal and societal benefits, and be able to examine how these vary between contexts.


Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to: 

Teaching and learning methods

The module makes use of a blended learning environment utilising face-to-face teaching methods supported by pre-prepared/recorded materials for lectures and supplementary material focussing on specific locations uploaded to Blackboard. In addition, the module will engage with virtual field visits in Manchester and Liverpool to provide on-site/real world examples of GI principles in policy and practice.


The module will also make use of guest Q&A sessions with academics and practitioners working within GI to provide a range of voices to support student learning.


Additional support will be provided in the form of individual tutorials associated with Assessment 1. These will be undertaken face-to-face or online and provide a forum for students to discuss their assessment preparations.


1. Face-to-Face

Each week a face-to-face lecture will be held developing core ideas regarding the development and utility of GI in practice. These will focus on the core issues of the module including: context, scale, stakeholders and the interaction of policy and practice, to illustrate the complexity and complimentary nature of the design, investment and management of GI in different geographical contexts


2. Pre-recorded lecture/Q&A materials

Each lecture will be supported with pre-recorded material outlining key issues related to GI development, policies and practice, which will be used as introductions to the more detailed discussions presented in lectures. The materials will vary in length from brief introductions to mini-lectures, specific details will be provided to students during the module.


3. Pre-recorded country profiles

Sessions focussed on specific geographical locations will be supported by pre-recorded profile videos discussing key developments and practice shaping GI development in that country/city. These recordings will focus on the variability of projects, the role of stakeholders in each location, and how policy has been used to shape investment. Each video will act as an introduction to the location which will be expanded upon in-class.


The creation of additional videos may be possible depending on the availability of information and whether there is sufficient call from students to focus on specific places


4. Individual tutorials

Individual tutorials will be offered to students on an ad-hoc basis to support the development of their assignments. Tutorials will be up to 30-minutes and agreed with the module coordinator


5. Field class

- Manchester virtual field class a pre-recorded tour of key GI sites in Manchester (see Blackboard for details)

- Field class to Liverpool to discuss investment in GI at a number of scales and from a range of thematic/disciplinary perspectives.  This will include pre-recorded videos, policy documents and papers that will form the basis of a class/group discussion of the ways in which GI is planned for and managed in the city


6. Online information/evidence repository


The module Blackboard site will hold a repository of academic and practitioner focussed articles, policies, videos, weblinks and podcast links. These should be used to supplement the module reading an

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate an understanding of different approaches to GI across the globe and have an overview of the current issues facing cities in relation to their future development of GI.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of how cities, different stakeholders and communities of interest are engaging with competing social, economic and environmental demands
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of alternative thematic approaches to GI development and application.

Intellectual skills

  • Display an understanding of the spatial disparities between cities and their application of GI thinking.
  • Illustrate your arguments with examples and case studies drawn from cities around the world.
  • Demonstrate an ability to synthesis data/evidence from complex policy, practice and academic sources into a coherent narrative.


Practical skills

  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the various methods that have been used to study the current and future challenges facing cities around the world with respect to climate, health, economic development and landscape/urban development.
  • Illustrate your arguments with examples and case studies drawn from cities around the world.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critical writing and analysis
  • Effectively communicate ideas and concepts orally, visually and in writing

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Reflective Essay (2500 words) 50% Weighting

Online Exam (2 hours) 50% Weighting

Feedback methods

Feedback for submitted assignment will be provided via Turnitin within 15 working days

Recommended reading

Ahern, J. (2013). Urban landscape sustainability and resilience: the promise and challenges of integrating ecology with urban planning and design. Landscape Ecology, 28(6), 1203–1212.

Austin, G. (2014). Green Infrastructure for Landscape Planning: Integrating Human and Natural Systems. New York: Routledge.

Beatley, T. (2000). Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities. Washington DC: Island Press.

Benedict, M. A., & McMahon, E. T. (2006). Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities. Urban Land (Vol. June). Washington DC: Island Press.

CABE Space. (2005). Does money grow on trees? London.

Dempsey, N., Smith, H. & Burton, M. (Eds.). (2014). Place-Keeping: Open Space Management in Practice. London: Routledge.

Dover, J. (2015). Green Infrastructure: Incorporating plants and enhancing biodiversity in buildings and urban environments. Abingdon: Routledge.

Garmendia, E., Apostolopoulou, E., Adams, W. M., & Bormpoudakis, D. (2016). Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure in Europe: Boundary object or ecological trap? Land Use Policy, 56, 315–319.

Goode, D. (2014). Nature in Towns and Cities. London: William Collins.

Gill, S. E., Handley, J. F., Ennos, A. R., & Pauleit, S. (2007). Adapting Cities for Climate Change: The Role of the Green Infrastructure. Built Environment, 33(1), 115–133.

Jaffe, M. (2010). Reflections on green infrastructure economics. Environmental Practice.

James, P., Tzoulas, K., Adams, M. D., Barber, A., Box, J., Breuste, J., … Ward Thompson, C. (2009). Towards an integrated understanding of green space in the European built environment. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 8(2), 65–75.

Kambites, C., & Owen, S. (2006). Renewed prospects for green infrastructure planning in the UK. Planning Practice and Research, 21(4), 483–496.

Little, C. (1990). Greenways for America. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

Scheduled activity hours Fieldwork 7 Lectures 27

Independent study hours
Independent study 95

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ian Mell Unit coordinator

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