MSc Urban Design and International Planning / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Planning for Environmental Change

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN60771
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


This module considers the drivers, pressures and impacts of environmental change. It evaluates the theoretical underpinnings and practical implications of responding to the negative consequences of human intervention in the environment.  It provides the theoretical framing to appraise and make sense of a range of practical responses. It explores the opportunities presented by an endeavour to design for a regenerative future. Issues are explored within the context of the Greater Manchester city region as well as through international examples. Topics will include:

The nature of environmental concern
Understanding the root causes of environmental change
Theories and politics of sustainability
Resilience, co-production and transitions
Ecological design and the circular economy
Climate change adaptation and responses
Urban greenspaces and Green Infrastructure
Landscape dynamics and the management of change
Decision making and complexity – post normal science and community engagement


  • Explore the linkages between environmental change, environmental justice and sustainable development
  • Understand the complexities associated with planning for phenomena that are dynamic and often poorly understood, and gain skills in navigating these complexities
  • Explore the synergies and conflicts between the theories and practices aimed at responding to environmental change
  • Develop an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of environmental planning practices, and push the frontiers of what that practice could be


Learning outcomes

This course unit’s aims and learning outcomes contribute towards the knowledge, skills and professional standards of the year as a whole.

Teaching and learning methods

A high degree of critical analysis will be encouraged, building on both the theory and practice of planning for environmental change. Lectures will introduce a range of perspectives, creating a theoretical basis for critical thought and application of the ideas developed in the course to different areas of practice. A high degree of student engagement with the learning process will be encouraged through interactive workshops and discussion. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the dynamics of environmental change
  • Understand the linkages between environmental change, environmental justice and sustainable development
  • Understand how complexities and uncertainties affect the strategic basis for environmental planning

Intellectual skills

  • Critically appraise different environmental planning responses
  • Situate different environmental planning responses within the broader context of sustainable development

Practical skills

  • Be able to evaluate the possible dimensions of environmental change of actions and projects
  • Be better prepared to plan responses to environmental change in a variety of contexts

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop professional communication skills
  • Develop skills in team work and project coordination
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the key players in environmental planning and their roles
  • Demonstrate a reflective attitude towards professional practice in environmental planning

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Oral assessment/presentation 30%

Feedback methods

Written feedback will be provided within 15 working days of assignment submission.

Recommended reading

Agyeman, J. (2005) Sustainable communities and the challenge of environmental justice, New York, New York University Press

Benson, J and Roe, M. (2000) Landscape Sustainability, Spon, London.

Bulkeley, H. and Betsill, M. (2003) Cities and Climate Change: Urban Sustainability and Global Environmental Governance, Routledge, London.

Carley, M. & Christie, I. (2000), 'Managing Sustainable Development', London: Earthscan

Giddens, A. (2009) The Politics of Climate Change, Polity, Cambridge.

Haughton, G. (2010) The New Spatial Planning : Territorial Management with Soft Spaces and Fuzzy Boundaries, Routledge, London.

Hough, M. (2006) Cities & Natural Process, Routledge, London.

Jordon, A. (2002) Environmental Policy in the European Union, Actors, Institutions and Processes, Earthscan, London.

Kohn, M. (2011) Turned Out Nice: How the British Isles will Change as the World Heats Up, Faber and Faber, London.

Layard, A., Davoudi, S. and Batty, S. (eds.) (2001) Planning for a Sustainable Future, Spon, London

Morris, P. and Therivel, R. (eds.) (2001) Methods of Environmental Impact Assessment, UCL Press, London, 2nd edition

O’Riordan, T. (ed.) (2000) Environmental Science for Environmental Management, Prentice Hall, Harlow, 2nd edition

Ravetz, J. (2000) City – Region 2020, Earthscan, London Reid, D. (1995) Sustainable Development, Earthscan, London.

Roaf, S. et al. (2004) Adapting Buildings and Cities for Climate Change: A 21st Century Survival Guide, Oxford Architectural, Oxford.

Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (2002) Twenty-third Report: Environmental Planning, Cm 5459, TSO, London.

Rydin, Y. (2003) Urban and Environmental Planning in the UK, Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Selman, P. (2000) Environmental Planning, Paul Chapman, London.

Selman, P. (2006) Planning at the Landscape Scale, Routledge, London.

Silver, JP. (2010) LIFE: Building up Europe's Green Infrastructure: Addressing Connectivity and Enhancing Ecosystem Functions, Office for Official Publications of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Shaw, R., Colley, M. and Connell, R. (2007) Climate change adaptation by design: a guide for sustainable communities, London: TCPA.

Therivel, R. (2004) Strategic Environmental Assessment in Action, Earthscan, London.

Tippett, J., Handley, J. F. and Ravetz, J. 2007. 'Meeting the challenges of sustainable development—A conceptual appraisal of a new methodology for participatory ecological planning.' Progress in Planning, 67 (1).

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

Wheeler, S. (2004) Planning for Sustainability: Towards More Liveable and Ecological Communities, Routledge, London.

Wheeler SM and Beatley T (eds) (2004) The Sustainable Urban Development Reader, London, Routledge.

White, I. (2010) Water and the City: risk, resilience and planning for a sustainable future, Routledge: London.

Williams, K. and Burt, E. (2000) Achieving Sustainable Urban Form, Spon, London.

Wondolleck, J. M..,Yaffee, S. L..2000. Making Collaboration Work - Lessons from Innovation in Natural Resource Management.Washington D.C. Island Press

World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) Our Common Future, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 4
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 112

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joanne Tippett Unit coordinator

Return to course details