Course Outlines

First Year

Cities, Development and Planning
This course explores the main dynamics and processes shaping cities in the contemporary era and the key challenges they face. It considers the major international development agendas for urban development, and their implications for urban planning. The evolution of approaches to urban development planning are discussed and contemporary approaches are evaluated. The course examines both international literature and the South African context.

Planning, Environment and Sustainability
This unit has two components. The first introduces and provides a critical perspective on the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. It also deals with the notion of the ?sustainable city?. The second component deals with environmental planning. It introduces students to ecological fundamentals, environmental ethics, the idea of environmental risk, and the basics of environmental and resource economics. Thereafter the unit deals with the various forms of environmental management and planning including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Integrated Environmental Management (IEM), and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

Spatial Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
This course has two broad components.
The first component introduces students to spatial planning processes. This component focuses on spatial concepts and principles of spatial planning, as well as various processes and theories of spatial change. The course includes the development of a local level spatial plan, including spatial analysis, spatial policies, design and implementation. It will also include issues such as land tenure, settlement layout and morphology and land use management. The course will include a GIS component.

The second component deals with sustainable transportation and infrastructure. Firstly, sustainable transport will introduce students to issues dealing with the impact of urban land use and form and other factors on sustainable transport, types of transport and finally transport policies and their implementation. Urban infrastructure will introduce students to the principles of bulk infrastructure provision such as potable water supply, stormwater and waste water provision as well as roads and sidewalk construction. This aspect will also deal with the relationship between urban form and infrastructure provision in terms of sustainable infrastructure, and costings.

Technologies and Techniques of Planning

This unit introduces the student to a range of techniques and technologies in planning, including research methodologies. The course will include an applied project, as well as the development of a research proposal.

Land Housing and the City
This is a seminar-based course that explores how land rights, land tenure and land management interact with the property market and state interventions in various housing situations, thereby contributing to the shaping of the city. The course examines this interrelation in the history of South African cities, in the current international debates, agendas and commitments, and in current South African policy debates. The course introduces key concepts for the analysis of patterns of urban land use, such as density, access and typology. It also introduces key concepts used in urban land policy to promote sustainable utilisation of urban land.

Urban politics and governance
Who governs in contemporary cities? How are decisions regarding urban policies and urban projects made and implemented? What is the role of business in setting the urban agenda? What is the power of residents? associations and civics to have their voice heard in urban governance? The objective of this course is to provide theoretical as well as practical responses to these type of questions. Theories of urban regimes, urban governance, participation, social movements and political mobilization will be presented and their relevance for African cities debated through different case studies.

Urban Economics and Property Development
The course will familiarize the student with current thinking in urban and property economics, and the relation with planning. The linkages between the urban economy, the residential and non-residential property markets, and the spatial implications will be discussed. A strong emphasis will be placed on the economic reasons that underpin the development of cities, the location choices of firms and households, and the factors that affect property investment. The course will also discuss the impact of micro and macro economy on the property market.

Second Year

Philosophies, Theories and Methodologies of Development Planning
This unit has two components. The first introduces students to: the idea and history of development; the institutions of development; theoretical approaches to development; and key themes within development such as gender and sustainability. The second component provides the student with an overview of the theories and philosophies of planning. These include: procedural rationalism, neo-Marxist critique, and post-positivist philosophies that focus on issues such as power and communication.

Professional Practice and Ethics
This unit deals with development planning as a branch of the broader planning profession. It addresses such issues as: the historical development of the planning profession; debates around the concept of professionalism; professional bodies; professional ethics; and forms of practice in the public and private sectors. It also provides a basic introduction to the running of a planning office.

Law for Development Planners
This unit is an introduction to law and the legal system in South Africa, before focussing on key pieces of national and provincial legislation that are related to development planning. This may include legislation dealing with: spatial development, environmental management, housing, local government, and land reform.

Municipal Planning
This unit deals with municipal planning within the context of ?developmental local governance?. It deals with: municipal powers, structure and functions; municipal finances; the international experience with municipal planning; the history and theory of integrated development planning; planning process; sectoral plans and integration of these plans; the planning and delivery of municipal infrastructure; project packaging; and, performance management. The unit will be linked to a project, and may include a service learning component

Research Report

This course involves supervised writing of a research report. It involves the definition of a research problem, question and hypothesis; a relevant literature review on the subject; empirical research involving quantitative or qualitative analysis; and the production of a research report drawing together all aspects of the work. The research report allows students to engage in a field of independent study, guided by an assigned supervisor.


Progress of students is monitored through various forms of assessment, including individual assignments, essays and individual and group projects. In most courses, written and oral exams count for 50% of the final mark, and coursework the remaining half. Students are required to attend every scheduled class and studio, and part-time students will require a written agreement from their employer indicating that they will be given the time to participate in the programme.