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Unit of study_

PLAN9068: History and Theory of Planning and Design

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit is in two overlapping modules, each of which is assessed. Module one enables students to understand how the main concepts and practices of urban planning and development have evolved; appreciate different perspectives about the roles and purposes of planning; undertake basic historical research about Australian urban planning and development issues, and prepare basic stories and arguments about practical planning issues and current theories. There is a strong emphasis on enriching the ability of students to better appreciate urban form, structure and planning practice generally by analysing such form, structure and process through the lens of history (as 'snapshots' in time), and the understanding of planning theory as drivers that shape and express such urban change such as Garden City values. Interpreting planning practice, places and spaces at different scales and what this reflects (such as underlying theory, values, norms attitudes, public interest, etc.) is a key element of this module. Concurrent with module one, module two familiarises students with the main ideas and methods that have influenced urban design practice from the late nineteenth century to the present. It covers the dominant urban design theories, principles, conceptual and physical models, analytical methods and drawings from key contributing authors over the period, and explores critically how and why these arose, their interrelationships, spheres of influence, and continuing validity. In this module, the work of key urban planning and design idealists and visionaries are discussed such as Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier. Students will be able to: critically review and interpret key planning and urban design texts/papers; construct and present basic arguments orally and in conjunction with graphics/images in illustrated documents; access and engage with key literature and other sources of knowledge; and use basic conceptual frameworks about planning arguments and stories for both the overlapping fields of urban planning and urban design. Interpreting the built form around you from an historical lens is an important learning outcome.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PLAN9068
Academic unit Urban and Regional Planning and Policy
Credit points 6
PLAN9031 or ARCH9062 or ARCH9031 or MARC4201
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Donald McNeill,
Lecturer(s) Donald McNeill,
Tutor(s) Sunghui Pak,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Historical analysis
Analysis of urban district, site, or urban space.
40% Week 07
Due date: 08 Apr 2020 at 17:00
2000 words, images
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Essay
60% Week 13
Due date: 27 May 2020 at 17:00
2500 words, with illustrations
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3

Assessment summary

  • Historical Analysis: Identify the planning theory, motivation and rationale underpinning the planning and design of a particular urban form or district through the use of archival study.
  • Essay: The second assignment focuses on a critical assessment and evaluation of a key idea in urban planning history, design or theory. The focus is on developing a strong understanding of key scholarly writings in planning history, urban design and theory.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

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

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
Week 01 1. Overview of unit of study outline; 2. Diagrams and the city Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 History and theory - overview Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 03 Engineering the city Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 04 Grids, zones, and land Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 05 Towers, skyscrapers, offices Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 06 Megastructures and public space Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 07 Data-driven cities: from quantitative modelling to smart urbanism Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 08 Transport and mobilities Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 09 Urban governance and city leadership Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 10 Urban sustainability and the anthropocene Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 11 Water and the city Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 12 From the Garden City to urban greening Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 13 Reflection on the unit content and themes Lecture (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School:

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 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

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. analyse, understand and explain key moments and concepts in the evolution of the history of urban planning and urban design
  • LO2. ‘read’ and interpret built form, design and planning process in terms of the embedded layers of planning history, design and the theory they represent
  • LO3. develop and apply research, inquiry and information literacy skills (written and visual communication skills) in the critical analysis of urban planning and urban design concepts and issues.

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.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


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

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