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Unit outline_

PLAN9010: Planning Dissertation 1

Semester 1, 2023 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The planning dissertation is a substantial piece of research, conducted full-time over one semester (by enrolment in PLAN9010 and PLAN9011), or part-time over two semesters (by consecutive enrolment in these units). It takes the form of a document (between 15,000 and 25,000 words) on an approved urban and regional planning subject of your choice. There is also an option for students to prepare a shorter document suitable for publication in a refereed journal. The planning dissertation is an opportunity to advance your knowledge and skills in a particular area. For those intending to undertake further academic study, the dissertation also provides an opportunity for you to develop your research and inquiry skills. The objective of the dissertation is to allow you to develop higher order research and analytic skills by undertaking an in-depth study of your own selection. The expected learning outcomes of the dissertation include the ability to: think critically about a planning problem and develop an appropriate research methodology or analytical approach to address it; identify and access appropriate sources of information, research and literature relevant to urban and regional planning issues; undertake primary and secondary research; present your findings in a way that demonstrates academic and professional competence. A dissertation generally includes: a strong literature review to delineate a problem or gap in knowledge; a statement of research aims or objectives, as well as research questions and/or hypotheses; explanation of research methods; presentation and analysis of data; discussion of conclusions; an abstract. Permission to continue the Planning Dissertation is subject to a satisfactory research proposal which must be approved by your supervisor by week 3 of semester. The dissertation will be marked by two examiners and may include an oral presentation. Dissertations are due at the end of the first week of exams for the semester in which you are enrolled in Planning Dissertation 2. Note that only one submission is required for both Planning Dissertation 1 and 2. It is not possible to complete Dissertation 1 independently of Dissertation 2. Students who intend a shorter project should enrol in PLAN9018 Planning Report.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Urban and Regional Planning and Policy
Credit points 12
PLAN9018 or ARCH9031 or ARCH9045 or ARCH9046 or ARCH9060
Assumed knowledge

PLAN9068, PLAN9061, PLAN9063, PLAN9045, PLAN9064, ARCH9100

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ryan Jones,
Type Description Weight Due Length

Assessment summary

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes
assessed. The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical
analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning
outcomes assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical
analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the
learning outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the
learning outcomes assessed.


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes


0 - 49

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the
learning outcomes assessed.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Regular meetings with project supervisor One-to-one tuition (12 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 01 Unit Introduction & Research Process Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Developing a Research Problem Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Research Proposal Presentation (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Literature Review & Using Theory Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Understanding Methodology Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Writing Results & Discussion Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Referencing: APA or Harvard style.
  • Remote Learning. Unless indicated otherwise, all lectures, tutorials and student presentations will be on-line. Individual supervisors and students may wish to meet in person, but this is not required in 2022. 

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 12 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 240-300 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

See Canvas for additional sources.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. think critically about a planning or policy problem, and develop and apply an appropriate research methodology or analytical approach to address it
  • LO2. identify, access and analyse appropriate sources of information, research and literature relevant to urban and regional planning and policy issues
  • LO3. undertake primary and secondary research relevant to urban planning policy or practice
  • LO4. communicate research findings verbally and in writing in a way that demonstrates academic and professional competence.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Student feedback has been taken into consideration since this unit was last offered.

All information for this unit will be on the designated Canvas site. 

Additional costs

Some small costs may be incurred by the student in the production of the report/research proposal (such as for graphics,images, maps, etc).

Work, health and safety





The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.