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Unit outline_

PLAN9068: History and Theory of Planning and Design

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

The aim of this unit is to provide students with a range of concepts and methods which can be used to interpret the urban form and structure of cities. Organised thematically, and using a wide range of empirical examples from both Australia and internationally, students will encounter a range of theories and concepts that explain urban change and how it has impacted on theories of urban planning and design. Themes may vary slightly from year to year, but are likely to include the study of tall buildings, technology and cities, sustainability, mobilities, water infrastructure and urban design practice. The urban history and theory of Aboriginal urban planning, policy and design issues is a key element of the course. 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

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,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Historical analysis
Analysis of urban district, site, or urban space.
40% Week 06
Due date: 18 Apr 2021 at 23:59
2000 words, images
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Essay
60% Week 13
Due date: 06 Jun 2021 at 23:59
2500 words, with illustrations
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2

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 historical sources.
  • 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 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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

As per university policy.

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 History and theory - overview Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 02 Making Big Plans Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Engineering the city Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 Indigenous Australia and urban planning Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 05 Grids, zones, downtowns and centrality Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 06 The vertical city Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 07 Megastructures Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 08 Public space, public life Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 09 Data-driven cities Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 10 Transport and mobilities Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 11 Urban sustainability and the anthropocene Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 12 Water and the city Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 13 Reflection on the unit content and themes Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3

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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