MPlan Planning with Professional Placement

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Planning and Development

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN10041
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Planning and Environmental Management
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


For the first time in human history, most people now live in cities.  It has been predicted that cities will continue to expand in the future and that the population living within cities will continue to grow.  How we understand the process of urbanisation – from its historical roots to its contemporary impacts and beyond to its future form – is one of the most pressing challenges facing policymakers in the UK and beyond.  What theories and concepts can we use to understand the processes that are taking place within our cities? How has the evolution of planning and development led to the way cities are today? What roles do cities have in contemporary society and how are cities and their societies evolving in different places? As a society – or group of societies – how should we respond to the opportunities and challenges that cities provide us and how can we manage these opportunities and challenges more effectively?

It is now clear that humans have been modifying their environment, and attempting to organise their settlements, from well before the start of recorded history. In medieval times, there is evidence of the planning of towns for strategic and economic reasons, and also for large scale interventions in the more rural landscapes, some on benign principles, but others causing longer term environmental problems.  Later, the development of classic pieces of townscape in places such as Newcastle, Edinburgh New Town, and London’s Regent Street was complemented by the rise of spas and resorts. The rapid growth of towns and cities following the Industrial Revolution was a key spur to the development of a formal planning system, initially via concerns over health and housing issues, whilst the associated pollution necessitated the development of environmental management initiatives.

An important strand in this story is the search for ideal communities: places that would serve as an inspiration to others and demonstrate the best initiatives in urban design and in creating places that were good to live in. From New Lanark and Port Sunlight, through the Garden Cities and post WW2 New Towns, the latest representatives are the Eco Towns and other sustainable communities, which still remain controversial. The course traces this history, and evaluates past successes and failures in our attempts to intervene to produce better settlements and environments. Hopefully, an improved understanding of these issues will make our continuing attempts to meet new challenges more effective and sustainable.

In the Introduction to Planning and Development, we will critically explore these issues and consider exactly what it means to be an urban dweller in the 21st century.


To introduce theoretical ideas about the growth, development and change of urban areas over the past 100 years.

To understand how economic, social, political and environmental pressures shape patterns of land-use in urban areas.

To consider contemporary processes of urban change in Britain and elsewhere.

To understand why we need to plan and control development in our towns and cities.



Part A – Understanding cities and society

Week 1    Lecture one: Studying cities and their societies: linking urban theory to practice

Lecture two: Visions of utopia…and the birth of the ‘modern’ city

Week 2    Lecture three: The death and life of great cities

Lecture four: The post-industrial/post-modern city

Week 3    Lecture five A typology of cities: the competitive city

Lecture six: A typology of cities: the neoliberal city

                Workshop 1: Library workshop

Week 4    Lecture seven: A typology of cities: the unequal city;

Lecture eight: A typology of cities: the adaptive city; the (dis)ordered

                Workshop 2: Essay planning workshop

                Field trip 1: Small group self-guided Manchester walking tour Oxford Road & Castlefield

Part B – The evolution of planning and development

Week 5    Lecture nine: Principles of planning and management

Lecture ten: Historical urban planning: fortifications, spas and resorts

Week 6    Reading Week – no lecture

Week 7    Lecture eleven: Ports, transport towns, the new giants

Lecture twelve: Villages of vision: New Lanark to Port Sunlight

Week 8    Lecture thirteen: The Garden City movement and the 1909 Act

Lecture fourteen: Inter War planning developments: the 1919 and 1932 Acts

                Field trip 2: Port Sunlight

Week 9    Lecture fifteen: The reports on Post War Reconstruction: Barlow, Scott & Uthwatt

Lecture sixteen: The 1947 planning system: operation and implementation. Development control and political influences

Week 10 Lecture seventeen: The New Town Movement in Practice

Lecture eighteen: The Great Rebuilding: slum clearance and housing renewal

Week 11 Lecture nineteen: Transport and the reconstruction of the city

Lecture twenty: Planning in crisis: the loss of faith in planning solutions

                Workshop 3: Exam revision strategies

Part C – The future of cities

Week 12  Lecture twenty-one: The smart city of the future

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be primarily lecture based supported by fieldtrips (one to Port Sunlight) and the other around the city of Manchester.

Knowledge and understanding

Situating urban regulation and planning policy in its wider economic, social, environmental and political context and appreciate how and why land use patterns develop and change.

Intellectual skills

  • Utilising critical skills in the analysis of economic, social and environmental policies related to urban areas and understand and apply some of the key theoretical ideas put forward to explain the growth and change of cities
  • Understand the history of the process of planning and managing urban and rural areas in Britain and elsewhere.

Practical skills

Employing critical reading and the development of academic writing.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Developing critical reasoning skills and an appreciation of the complex and contested nature of planning decision making.

Assessment methods






1.    Essay



Feedback will be provided through Turnitin within 15 working days of submission.

2.    Exam

1½ hours


Marks will be provided within 15 working days of assessment and additional verbal feedback will be available on request.


Feedback methods

 As you progress through the course unit you will receive verbal feedback during the weekly sessions following class-based lectures and seminars.  The Blackboard system will also provide feedback through the use of an FAQ section.  Substantive feedback on your assignments will be provided via online feedback sheets. We are also available to discuss specific issues in relation to the course  unit at the weekly sessions or by e-mail appointment.

Recommended reading

Core reading

Allen, J. (1999) Unsettling Cities: Movement/Settlement, London, Routledge.

Benton-Short, L. and Rennie-Short, J. (2013) Cities and Nature. Routledge, Oxon. (first or second edns.)

Cherry, G (1988) Cities and plans: the shaping of urban Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (London: Edward Arnold)

Hall, P. (2014) Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century (any edition), Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.

Hall, T. (2012) Urban Geography (4th edn). Hoboken, Taylor and Francis.

Knox, P.P. and Pinch, P.S. (2009) Urban Social Geography: An Introduction (6thed). London, Routledge.

LeGates, R.T. and Stout, F. (2011) City Reader (5th ed). London, Routledge. Other editions are suitable but please be aware their contents will differ slightly (Recommended Purchase).

Pacione, M. (2009) Urban Geography: A global perspective (3rd ed). London, Routledge

Ward, S. (2004) Planning and Urban Change. London, Sage.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Fieldwork 8
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 164.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Philip Bell Unit coordinator
Yueming Zhang Unit coordinator

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