PLAN2003W Intro to Spatial Planning

Academic Year 2024/2025

Spatial planning is a process whereby public authorities regulate and mediate claims on land, at the intersection of public, market-related, and community interests. Spatial planning involves critical thinking about the space before action and intervention. Defining a vision for future development and translating it into a set of policies, priorities and programmes for implementation is a core process in spatial planning.
This module introduces key concepts of spatial planning from both theoretical and practical points of view. The module explores the land-use planning efforts of central authorities and administrations in achieving a balanced development considering economic, social and environmental concerns as well as more rational and efficient use of land resources.
The module explores the evolution of spatial planning practice, the emergence of planning systems and associated policies. It provides references to international planning and plan-led and market-led systems.
Examples of modern spatial planning practices, policies and their implementation will be explored in the areas of environment, housing, transport, community development, and urban design, among others. We will discuss relevant concepts for the planning discipline, including urban regeneration, renewal, urban sprawl, and public participation.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By undertaking this module, the students will develop:
- Ability to describe and explain the rationale for spatial planning policy and practice;
- Ability to outline the evolution of planning theory and practice, and approaches including plan-led and market-led systems;
- Ability to explain how spatial planning operates within different political, institutional and legal frameworks; Understanding of the key elements underpinning the planning process, including the legal context of land use designations;
- Recognition of the challenges of sustainable development in China and around the world; capacity to understand the wider social, economic and political contexts for planning sustainable environments;
- Understanding the values and vulnerabilities of the natural, built and cultural environments;
- Ability to outline key planning areas and relevant policies, and give examples of how they are implemented in practice;
- Ability to diagnose planning problems and suggest potential solutions; understanding of mediation processes among competing interests in planning;
- Understanding of the role of urban design in shaping urban environments; ability to explain place-making principles;
- Evaluation and independent thinking skills to produce individual and team-work based on clear evidence and reliable information;
- Ability to effectively communicate planning concepts through presentations and report writing;

Indicative Module Content:

Learning Unit 1: What is Spatial Planning?
-Human settlements and urbanisation (infrastructure and resources; natural and cultural environment);
- The evolution and justification for spatial planning;
-Basic planning theory (including ‘The Garden City’ and ‘City Beautiful’);
-General development frameworks; Sustainable development and SDGs;
- The concept of ‘land’; planning as a professional discipline; the role of urban planners;

Learning Unit 2: Modern spatial planning
-Planning as physical design (‘blue print’);
-Comprehensive planning; Collaborative planning;
-Planning Instruments, Planning Systems, Planning ‘Products’ (local to transnational);
-Institutional contexts, Administrative and Legal Development, Implementation;
-Concepts of: regeneration, renewal, heritage, urban sprawl, transit-oriented development, public participation, etc.;
-International cases and comparative approaches (Europe, US, China);
-Information systems for planning;

Learning Unit 3: Topics in spatial planning
-Economic development;
-Planning for environmental conservation;
-Community/social planning;
-Transportation planning;
-Rural planning;
-Urban design principles and placemaking;

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Field Trip/External Visits


Specified Learning Activities


Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module comprises of online lectures, debates, case study presentations, and structured reading. There will be opportunities for discussion, questions and peer learning. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Exclusions:

This module is delivered overseas and is not available to students based at the UCD Belfield or UCD Blackrock campuses.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Group Work Assignment: Group presentation Week 6 Graded Yes


Assignment(Including Essay): Final Individual Assignment Week 12 Graded Yes



Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Group and individual feedback will be provided

Name Role
Dr Ozge Yenigun Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Xiaolin Lao Tutor