Topic outline

  • Course zoom link:

    Responsible teachers

    Dominic Stead,

    Kaisa Granqvist,

    Other contributors

    Eva Purkarthofer, Delft University of Technology / Aalto University (online lectures)

    Antti Mentula, City of Helsinki (guest lecture)

    Learning outcomes

    After the course a student:
    • is familiar with the theoretical discussion on urban and regional development and can engage in academic discussions on the theme
    • is able to critically analyse urban environments, urban development, and related policies: their aims and means as well as their relation to spatial planning
    • can recognise and analyse the contested societal context of planning and urban development, and can reflect on the role of a planner

    Course structure

    The course is structured into three thematic blocks: 

    1. Regional planning
    2. Urban planning
    3. Neighbourhood planning

    Each block comprises online lectures, scientific reading and group discussions. There is one assignment per block. Each of the assignments will be introduced in detail at the beginning of each block. There is also a home exam at the end of the course.


    A grading scale of 0-5 is used. The grades for the assignments will be weighted as follows:

    • Assignment 1 (regional planning) 15%
    • Assignment 2 (urban planning) 15%
    • Assignment 3 (neighbourhood planning) 25%
    • Home exam (2 short essays) 45%


  • Not available unless: You belong to L01 (Oodi)

    Lecture 1: Regional and urban development

    Lecture 2: EU Cohesion Policy

    Recommended reading for Block 1 (electronic copies available below)

    Dühr, S.; Colomb, C. & Nadin, V. (2010). Chapter 18: EU Cohesion Policy and EU. In: Dühr, S.; Colomb, C. & Nadin, V. European Spatial Planning and Territorial Cooperation. Routledge, London, pp.270-293, 

    Evers, D. & Tennekes, J. (2016). Europe exposed: mapping the impacts of EU policies on spatial planning in the Netherlands. European Planning Studies 24(10) 1747-1765, 

    Paasi, A. (2009). The Resurgence of the ‘Region’ and ‘Regional Identity’: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Observations on Regional Dynamics in Europe. Review of International Studies 35(S1) 121-146, 

    Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2008). The rise of the city region. European Planning Studies 16(8) 1025-1046, 

  • Not available unless: You belong to L01 (Oodi)

    Lecture 3: Different approaches to the city and its change

    Lecture 4: Urban strategies and the quest for competitiveness

    Recommended reading for Block 2 (electronic copies available below)

    Andersson, I. (2016). ‘Green cities’ going greener? Local environmental policy-making and place branding in the ‘Greenest City in Europe’. European Planning Studies 24(6) 1197-1215, 

    Brenner, N. & Wachsmuth, D. (2012). Territorial competitiveness: Lineages, practices, ideologies. In: Sanyal, B.; Vale, L. & Rosan, C. (eds). Planning ideas that matter: livability, territoriality, governance, and reflective practice. MIT Press, Cambridge MA, pp.179-204 

    Jokela, S. (2019). Transformative city branding and the evolution of the entrepreneurial city: The case of ‘Brand New Helsinki.’ Urban Studies 57(10) 2031-2046, 

    Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018). The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it). Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy & Society 11(1) 189-209 

  • Not available unless: You belong to L01 (Oodi)
    Lecture 5: Malmi Vision – guest lecture by Antti Mentula, City of Helsinki

    Lecture 6: Planning the Neighbourhood – From modernistic zoning to DIY urbanism

    Recommended reading for Block 3 (electronic copies available below)

    Ellis, C. (2002). The New Urbanism: Critiques and rebuttals. Journal of Urban Design 7(3) 261-291, 

    Mäenpää, P. & Faehnle, M. (2017). Civic activism as a resource for cities. Helsinki Quarterly 1/2017 68-81, 

    Meegan, R. & Mitchell, A. (2001). ’It’s Not Community Round Here, It’s Neighbourhood’: Neighbourhood Change and Cohesion in Urban Regeneration Policies. Urban Studies 38(12) 2167-2194, 

    Recommended podcasts and videos

    Bijlmer, City of the Future, Part 1,

    Blood, Sweat and Tears, City of the Future, Part 2,

    In Search of the Human Scale, Jan Gehl,

    The general theory of walkability, Jeff Speck,

  • Not available unless: You are a(n) Student

    Write a critical reflective essay on two of the following questions, drawing on the course materials as well as other relevant literature:​

    1. Looking at a recent example of an urban plan in an EU country, analyse the extent to which the plan implicitly and explicitly considers European Cohesion Policy and discuss the ways in which the plan could make closer links with Cohesion Policy.
    2. Analyse the extent to which urban plans in different cities follow a broadly similar model and discuss which theories can be used to explain the reasons for similarities and differences.
    3. Looking at a recent example of an urban or neighbourhood plan, analyse the extent to which it includes concepts of New Urbanism and discuss the key challenges for implementing these concepts in practice.

    The essays need to be critical, reflective and draw on theoretical and empirical materials. The maximum word limit for each essay is 2,500 words (excluding references).

    The deadline for submitting the essays is 3 June 2021 (midday).

  • Q&A

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
    Home Exam

    Q: I have seen the question of the home exam on My course, so could I start writing the essays? As long as I submit it before the deadline. Or is there an exam day and we have to finish the essays within the allotted time on that day?
    A: You may start the exam whenever you want and submit it at any time before the deadline but please bear in mind that the recommended reading for each thematic block is only published at the start of each block. So you will need to wait before you receive the recommended reading for thematic blocks 2 and 3.

    Assignment 1

    Q: Unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate during one of the assignment presentation sessions. Does this affect my grade, even if I submit the full assignment on time?
    A: The answer is yes and no. An absence from the presentations will not result in a penalty to your grade. However, your absence will mean that you will miss the opportunity to receive feedback on your work from your peers, and this feedback will hopefully help you to improve your assignment before submission.

    Q: I can only join the assignment presentation for the last slot at 15:30. Would it be possible to rearrange accordingly?
    A: I’m afraid that we have made a decision not to adjust the programme according to individual preferences because this reduces interaction in the groups and creates timetabling difficulties. Our expectation is that students attend all the timetabled sessions from start to finish (there are not so many after all) unless there is a very good reason for an absence. It is not fair to your peers if you only attend the last slot (and receive feedback from the group) without being present to provide feedback on other students’ presentations. It is not reasonable to expect feedback from other students if you do not provide it to others.

    Q: From what I understand I am presenting 30 facts with 10 on each slide for Assignment 1. I have attached what I made so far.
    A: Yes, there needs to be at least 10 facts on each slide, so a minimum of 30 facts in total. Don’t forget to mention the name of the NUTS2 region you have chosen, the year when the data was collected and the source of the data.

    Q: There are so many regional indicators to choose from. How should I make a choice in Assignment 1?
    A: Try to select indicators which illustrate the most characteristic features of your chosen region. In other words, try to avoid indicators which show that the region is just average across all indicators.

    Q: Can the infographics contain more than 10 indicators per page?
    A: Yes, it is possible to include more than 10 indicators per page but please make sure that the infographics are easily legible.

    Q: How can I create icons for the infographics?
    A: You can find a lot of icons that can be downloaded for free. Don't feel the need to invent your own.

    Q: Can I compare more than one NUTS2 region in Assignment 1?
    A: Keep it simple and just choose one NUTS2 region! Illustrate how the region compares to the national and/or EU situation.

    Q: Do I need a whole time series of data to show trends over time?
    A: No, not necessarily. You can simply show data for two points in time (recent and some time ago).

  •  You can discuss and share files with your group