MPlan Planning

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Digital Planning - Spatial and Policy Analysis

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN40761
Credit rating 15
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This first semester module seeks to provide students with a coherent guide to the variety of methods and techniques employed in analysing contemporary planning issues, policy outcomes and impacts. The module addresses the following issues:

  • Analysis of trends and spatial patterns with indicators
  • Baseline profiling and making use of neighbourhood statistics
  • Monitoring of change: time series and spatial movement
  • Processing quantitative data with Excel, SPSS and GIS
  • Area typologies and classifications
  • Projections and scenario building
  • Policy development and strategic plan-making


This module aims to give students a solid grounding in understanding various spatial analysis techniques and methods commonly used to understand spatial trends and patterns of development in an applied context.

You will learn the technical and critical analytical skills to develop a robust evidence-base to support critical spatial thinking and policy-development.

You will learn various diagnostic approaches that will enable you to analyse and interpret the relationships between different factors and activities that underpin spatial development trends.

You will learn various methodologies involved in carrying out policy monitoring and evaluation to assess the outputs and outcomes of policy action.

You will develop skills in managing on-line databases and using technical software to analyse and present results for policy audiences.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and computer workshops

Knowledge and understanding

Be familiar with the range of techniques and methods used to analyse and evaluate spatial issues and planning policy and have a good grasp of the basic principles that underpin the application of these techniques and methods;

Intellectual skills

Appreciate the usefulness, as well as the limitations, of such techniques and methods under different contexts;

Practical skills

Have the ability to manage and perform basic analysis with such methods and techniques to planning-related work.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Developed skills in ArcGIS and SPSS; data handling and analysis skills; and critical thinking about the application of such techniques to evidence-based policymaking

Assessment methods

Individual Baseline Report (2500 words) 60%

Group Final Report (5000 words) 40%

Feedback methods

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

Recommended reading

Carley, M. (1980) Rational Techniques in Policy Analysis: Heinemann Educational Books, London

Davies, H. (1995) Demographic Projection Techniques for Regions and Small Areas: A Primer UBC Press, Vancouver.

Field, B. and MacGregor, B. (1987) Forecasting Techniques for Urban and Regional Planning, Hutchinson, London.

Hambleton, R. and Thomas, H. (1995) Urban Policy Evaluation: Challenge and Change, Chapman, London.

Innes, J. E. (1990) Knowledge and Public Policy: the Search of Meaningful Indicators, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

ODPM (2006) A Framework for City Regions, ODPM (now DCLG), London.


ODPM (2006) State of the English Cities, ODPM (now DCLG), London.


RTPI (2006) Uniting Britain: The evidence base - spatial structure and key drivers, RTPI, London


Wong, C. (2006) Indicators for Urban and Regional Planning: The Interplay of Policy and Methods, Routledge, London.

Wong, C., Baker, M., Webb, B., Hincks, S. and Schultze-Baing, A. (2015) ‘Mapping policies and programmes: the use of GIS to communicate spatial relationships in England’ Environment and Planning B.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 8
Practical classes & workshops 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Yin Wong Unit coordinator

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