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Thinking cities, building cities

Faculté de gestion: Faculté des géosciences et de l'environnement (FGSE)

Responsable(s): Annick Leick, Martin Müller

Période de validité: 2018 ->

Horaires du cours (Hebdomadaire)

Date Lieu Remarque Thématique Intervenant(s)
2018/2019 : Lundi 15:15-17:00 (Hebdomadaire) Géopolis/1628    


Semestre d'automne
2 heures par semaine
28 heures par semestre
Langue(s) d'enseignement: anglais
Public: Oui
Crédits: 3.00


- Understand main propositions of key theories and debates relating to cities and planning
- Distinguish between different types of theories
- Assess strengths and weaknesses of different theories
- Evaluate different city models and visions
- Reconstruct the link between theoretical debates and urban outcomes
- Transfer analyses between different urban contexts
- Choose an appropriate theory for a research question

- Engage with English-language texts at a high level
- Synthesise and assess general propositions
- Apply general propositions to concrete cases


The course traces the different approaches through which scholars throughout the world have analysed urban processes and urban planning, and the different models and visions that have guided city building. In a first part entitled 'thinking cities', we discuss the major theories of cities and urban processes, with a particular focus on recent theories. This includes theories on
- cities and capital
- cities and postmodernism
- cities and the world
- cities from elsewhere
- cities and difference
- cities as assemblage

The second part, entitled 'building cities', focuses first on prescriptive theories, which aim to develop approaches for planners and interrogate the role of planners.

- rational planning
- advocacy planning
- communicative/collaborative planning
- pragmatic planning
- adaptive planning and non-planning

Second we will discuss earlier and contemporary normative planning models, which develop physical pictures of an ideal city or advocate specific planning principles such as Modernism and contemporary normative models such as the sustainable city, the smart city etc.

Course schedule:

1 The Foundations
2 Cities and Capital
3 Cities after Modernism
4 Cities and the World
5 Cities from off the Map
6 Cities and Difference
7 Cities as Assemblage

8 Introduction to planning theory / rational planning
9 Advocacy planning / communicative planning
10 Pragmatic planning/ adaptive planning, non-planning
11 Earlier normative models and principles
12 Contemporary normative models and principles
13 Synthesis of relations and linkages


Oral exam


The course does not follow one textbook. Instead, we will use a selection of the textbooks below. If you want to buy one book, we recommend Jonas et al. for urban geography and Allmendinger for planning theory.

Key textbooks

- Allmendinger, Philip. 2017. Planning Theory. 3rd ed. London: Palgrave.
The classic companion to planning theory.

- Harding, Alan, and Talja Blokland. 2014. Urban Theory. London: Sage.
Covers urban theories from a broad range of disciplines. An accessible textbook though somewhat opinionated and biased for and against certain theories.

- Jayne, Mark, and Kevin Ward, eds. 2017. Urban Theory: New Critical Perspectives. London: Routledge.
A collection of shorter texts on key concepts in urban studies. More a dictionary than a textbook.

- Edensor, Tim, and Mark Jayne, eds. 2012. Urban Theory Beyond the West: A World of Cities. London: Routledge.
A heterogeneous collection that counters the bias towards the West in much urban theory.

- Jonas, Andrew E. G., Eugene McCann, and Mary Thomas. 2015. Urban Geography: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Wiley.
Illustrated with rich examples and written in an accessible style and very up-to-date, this is an attractive textbook that covers theories but is organized according to urban problematiques (such as marginalization, image etc).

- Parker, Gavin, and Joe Doak. 2012. Key Concepts in Planning. London: Sage.
A collection of short texts on important concepts in planning.

- Short, John Rennie. 2014. Urban Theory: A Critical Assessment. 2nd ed. Aldershot: Palgrave.

UtilisationCode facultéStatutCrédits
Master 'Géographie Discipline externe' (2015 ->) ›› Module "Géographie en discipline externe"Optionnel3.00
Master 'Géographie' (2011 ->) ›› Master 'Géographie'Optionnel3.00
Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en géographie, urbanisme durable et aménagement des territoires (2017 ->) ›› Module 2.I.1 - Métropolisation, formes urbaines et mobilité : enjeuxOptionnel3.00
Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en géographie, urbanisme durable et aménagement des territoires (dès 2018A) (2018 ->) ›› Module 2.I.1 - Territoires : dynamiques spatiales, pratiques sociales et durabilitésObligatoire3.00
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