CANCELLED: Theories of Urban Planning and Governance

Course content

This course is about urban planning and governance in a complex, disorderly and dynamic planning situation. The course focuses on recent theories about urban planning and public governance to understand the processes of planning and the political and administrative context of urban design. New paradigms like relational planning and complexity planning, and theories about new forms of organisation and about new roles for politicians, planners, developers, citizens etc. illustrate efforts to comprehend the complex planning conditions in (post)modern societies. The course concentrates on three main themes of great importance for contemporary planning:

• Conceptualising relational planning in complex urban contexts
• New forms of organisations and cooperation in urban planning practices
• Democratic planning and participation

Cases from planning practices in Danish regions and municipalities will be used to illustrate the influence of different planning and governance paradigms and different forms of organisations and roles in planning practices. Planning practices could be both plans and projects. E.g. the development of: a regional climate strategy, a municipal plan strategy, a project for a residential area or former industrial area into new functions, a transport or a landscape plan etc. How are the processes organised? Who are involved and why? What are the political conditions for the projects and how does politics and public administration influence the project? What is the role of the planners and the designers? How is the cooperation between designers, developers and citizens organised? Etc.


MSc Programme in Landscape Architecture

Learning outcome

Course aims: Students will afterwards know and be able to use the knowledge about different forms of planning and governance processes in a critical-reflective way in their own design and planning practices.


Student will obtain an overview of advanced approaches, theories and discussions about (post)modern planning and governance processes, understand central points of discussion within the theories and in practice and their effect on the development of contemporary cities.


- Students will be able describe and characterize the main differences between planning paradigms: e.g. Rational planning, Collaborative Planning and Strategic/Relational Planning

- Students will be able to compare and characterize two different modes of governance: Hierarchical government and network governance in relation to 1) democratic norms, 2) the role of planners, politicians, citizens and other private actors, 3) The involved knowledge forms and 4) the institutional set-up.

- Students will be able to explain the development from rational to relational planning in relation to the general developments in society as well as reflect on how the paradigms affects the development of contemporary cities.

The students will be able to use the knowledge in a critical-reflective way and to develop positions of their own. They will be able to show this ability in their way of handling and organising planning processes in practice.

- Students will be able to present texts on planning theory and deduce the main characteristics and points of discussions.

- Students will be able to initiate and facilitate a discussion of theoretical concepts in relation to contemporary urban development

- Students will be able to analyze a contemporary planning process in relation to planning paradigm(s) and governance form(s) in a written group assignment

- Students will be able to plan a participatory process that is in accordance with the goals and scope of a specific urban plan, and be able to argue for whom and how to involve relating to both democratic norms and pragmatic considerations.


The students shall be able to use theoretical points of reference when making their own projects and when relating to issues of contemporary planning processes in a critical-reflective way.



The teaching form combines learning through lectures, discussions and assignments. Student’s presentation of the day’s reading and their work with assignments in groups will be the backbone of the course structure. Focus will be on presenting and reflecting on different views and perspectives on planning processes in order for the students to be able to make conscious and well reflected decisions in urban planning processes. This will be supplemented with lectures presenting the overview of different perspectives and effects on urban planning. Small exercises and assignments about concrete planning practices will illustrate the practical relevance of different planning views and perspectives.

Teaching material will be selected academic articles as well as policy documents from contemporary planning projects. The material will be available in Absalon.

bachelor degree in landscape architecture, architecture, geography, planning or similar

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, during course
Oral examination, 20 minutes
1) Group assignment by means of which the theories dealt with during the course are applied to a contemporary planning case. Weight: 30%
2) Oral examination based on assignment and course literature. Weight: 70%
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 35
  • Colloquia
  • 46
  • Exam
  • 10
  • Project work
  • 100
  • Excursions
  • 15
  • English
  • 206