Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit focuses on deepening students' understanding of the histories, settings, strategic approaches, and tactics in response to real-world dilemmas associated with urban planning for improving cities and urban futures. Because addressing contemporary dilemmas requires nimble and flexible responses to effect long-term change, each year the unit nominates an overarching theme (like health, transport, housing, food security) relevant in Australia and internationally. Students confront the nominated dilemma—from conceptual foundation to fieldwork and comparative analysis—to seek transformative agendas based on strategic planning and tactical urbanism to improve the urban environment. Carefully selected case studies allow strenuous assessment of the complex interplay of concepts, policies, frameworks and theories as they manifest in global environments and local settings.

Through meaningful comparative analysis of ideal and real urban spaces and places, students can determine robust principles and methodologies that can be adapted into sound recommendations for planning interventions in a given community or city. They can grapple with the means and empirical measures of contemporary urbanisation and globalisation pressures that challenge urban (re)development and human dignity. Students are expected to be diagnostic, analytical, and resourceful in building their academic and professional capacity to promote the foundations and interventions supporting healthy, active, and equitable urban futures that will affect many people, communities, institutions, and other stakeholders across society. The unit uses a modified critical social science methodology (after Bent Flyvbjerg's work) where students are asked in relation to the nominated theme—(1) What are the critical dilemma and related conditions that cities are trying to address? (2) How do cities identify and measure progress, and where are they heading? (3) Is this development desirable? (4) Who are the winners and losers under the changes that are taking place? and (5) What, if anything, should we do about that, and why?

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) appreciate the historical and philosophical evolution of the nominated theme in geography and planning as an area of enquiry and practice, with a focus on a particular subdisciplinary area; (2) differentiate and justify the geographic and planning methods, policies, and approaches used to observe, measure, and promote the nominated theme in cities and communities, specifically applied in a given urban area of Perth; (3) propose and evaluate planning for desirable urban futures by analysing complex theoretical and policy knowledge underwriting urban planning frameworks that inform professional judgments and reflect on social, ecological, and ethical responsibilities of planning and geographical contexts and governance actors; and (4) communicate geographical and planning perspectives and knowledge effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences using appropriately selected written, oral and visual means.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) community needs assessment; (2) communication project; and (3) report. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Linda Robson
Unit rules
At least 24 points at masters level 4
or level 5 including any two Master of Urban and Regional Planning units,
or approval of the Unit Coordinator.
Approved quota: 25—first-come, first-served
Contact hours
3 contact hours per week, further details available in the unit outline
Unit availability is subject to placements being available within the Western Australian Government
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.