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GEOG 3305

Planning, Development and Sustainability

  • Credits: 3
  • Level: Undergraduate, Year 3
  • Semester: 1
  • Status: Elective course for BSc/BA major (Geography) and BSc Geography (May not run every year)
  • Pre-requisites: GEOG 1900 and GEOG 1901; or GEOG 1131, GEOG 1132, GEOG 1231 and GEOG 1232 or HOD permission.
  • Course coordinator:

Course coverage

The course is designed to provide students with a foundation and an understanding of the theory and practice of land use planning and development, with a focus on the varying complexities of the planning process, planning issues and problems. The course devotes particular consideration to voice, participation and politics while exploring subjects in planning law, policy, governance, decision-making and the institutional environment. It teaches students the basic principles of good land use planning and design with the intent that students will apply these principles and theories to the development of land use plans that conform to principles of smart growth and sustainability. Through the concept of comprehensive planning, students understand how a long-term land use plan serves as the foundation for infrastructure planning, resource protection, coordination of services, and quality of life. The course also addresses some of the short term and long term demographic, socio-economic and environmental factors that will potentially affect human development and the ways in which land use planning may respond to these factors. Students are expected to develop awareness in formulating interventions that reflect an understanding of place-specific socio-economic, political and cultural circumstances. Other benefits include the development of key skills and practice that planners apply in the formulation of physical development plans intended to promote sustainable land uses and the development of livable communities.


Within the context of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) land use planning and sustainable environmental development take on particular significance given the vulnerabilities of SIDS that arise due to their small size, insularity, remoteness, proneness to natural disasters and reliance on the environment for economic viability. This course is specifically focused on the planning and development of the physical environment. It brings together and builds on the students' understanding of population growth/pressure, land use, development and sustainability issues explored in previous geography courses such as GEOG 1132 Population, Migration and Settlement and GEOG 2016 Introduction to Urban Geography and compliments the materials introduced in GEOG 2105 Geographies and Discourses of Development, in order to help students understand how land use decisions are made, the various stakeholders in the planning process, and the different factors that may contribute to and interfere with the planning process. The course takes a critical perspective on planning and development, providing students with the skills, knowledge, theories and concepts to engage in meaningful debates regarding physical development plans, planning laws/policies and sustainability issues within and between countries. The course prepares students for independent and team-based research and analysis, with methods and theories generally used by land use planners who seek to promote efficient and equitable social change. It continues to shape the critical capacity of students developed in Levels I and II, including competent oral and written skills and self-motivated learning. The course also provides a foundation for students intending to do graduate work in planning, land management, urban design, development or public policy.

Course description

This course introduces theories, concepts and methodologies applied in physical and smart growth planning. It develops an appreciation and understanding of the planning environment, i.e. the socioeconomic, environmental, political and cultural context in which processes of planning and development operate. Planning and development issues are often rooted in contested political, social and ecological processes rather than in objective strategies designed to equitably meet the three pillars of sustainability. These contestations often contribute to disparities in development, marginalization of communities, lack of public participation in the planning decision-making process, unsustainable land uses, enhanced vulnerabilities to man-made and natural disasters and environmental degradation. It also explores present and future developments in smart growth planning and the types of issues that may impact on the sustainable growth and development of global environments. The course is organized in three sections, with the first section dealing with the history, philosophy, and general theories of planning. The second section deals with the planning of human settlements, particularly the development of sustainable livable communities. The third section looks at planning for the 21st century; potential development issues and the prospects for sustainable planning and development. The course is taught through a series of interactive lectures, tutorials and field trips intended to help students acquire and understand the theoretical and real world applications of the course content. The tutorial sessions are designed to be student-led and are intended to give students some exposure to the more practical skills of land use planning and sustainable design. The tutorials are conducted as small group sessions facilitated by the course instructor. The assessment for the course will consist of a combination of coursework and a final examination. The coursework assignments may iinclude, for example, the design of land use proposals andor the development of an environmental impact assessment - coursework that draw on the students' content knowledge gained from the lectures, tutorials, readings and their previous experiences.

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