Fanstein, S.S. (2005) ‘Planning theory and the city’, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 25, pp. 121-130

Fainstein Susan, in an article titled ‘Planning Theory and the City’ published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research in 2005 discusses the distinction between the urban theory and planning theory citing three reasons why the distinction is not intellectually viable. Being a professor of urban planning and acting as a program director at the Columbia University, Fainstein has the authority in her writing especially on urban planning. The journal in which the article was published is well ranked indicating the value accorded to the information provided in the article. In the introduction, the author poses a question; should planning theory and theorising about the city be separated? This question fundamentally delineates the research question. Unlike in a similar research by Alexander (2010), this is not a statement but a research question and therefore, the author draws from this question to frame the purpose of the study and focus on the research. To support her research focus, the author cited several previous works that focus on planners and their spatial objects (Fanstein 2005, pp. 122). Though the research questions are well outlined in the article, they are not explicitly indicated thus, requiring the research to read and re-read the article to identify and understand the research question underlying the research unlike in an article by Ferreira, Sykes and Batey (2009) where the topic delineates the research question and displays the purpose of the study.




ARCH5017 Topic Review Papers – Tips

 During your studies and specifically in the project component of your program, you will be expected to critically review and evaluate academic papers.  This is a learned skill and the 2 topic review papers assessed in this course train you in how to do this.  In doing so, I hope you can see how ARCH5017 directly relates to your ability to excel in other courses. CONTEMPORARY PLANNING THEORY: ARTICLE REVIEW.

The ability to review an academic paper is the first building-block in reviewing a wider body of knowledge.

So how do you do it?  Below are some tips to help you:

 Some basic things to bear in mind:

  1. You are expected to review a single paper in each review.  However, as part of your review you may wish to refer to other papers.  Do not lose sight of the fact that you are reviewing a single paper though.

  2. Remember that to critically review does not mean to needlessly criticise. Be balanced in your views and strive to support them.


Approaching the article:

  1. Read it! Read it thoroughly!  Read it a number of times!

  2. Pay attention to the style of the article – is it a review paper?  Is it a work in progress paper?  Is it a full research paper?

  3. Consider the journal – is it refereed?  Is it of international standing?

  4. Take note of the following aspects of the paper:

    1. The research question/s, objectives and/r aims;
    2. The theoretical framework/approach that is used;
    3. The methodological approach taken and specific methods used to collect/generate data;
    4. The discussion of data/results/findings;
    5. The contribution of the paper;
    6. The clarity and logic of written expression and argument formation;
    7. The contribution of the conclusions.

When considering the above ask yourself if there are any assumptions evident within the paper or if the paper displays any particular bias.  This is tricky as you need to distinguish between this and the ‘paradigm’ the paper works within.

Writing your review:

When assessing your reviews I’ll be looking at your [1] descriptive and [2] evaluative content.  In fact the assessment criteria are ranked on a scale of very poor to very good and specifically consider the following aspects of your review:

  • Quality of descriptive content

  • Quality of evaluative content

  • Professional/objective perspective

  • Understanding of key concepts

  • Logical progression of critique

  • Clarity of written expression

  • Referencing

I’d advise people to structure their reviews around a brief descriptive section and a longer, balanced and considered evaluative section.

Remember that the key is to hone your critical reading/thinking skills.

Bear in mind that writing an article review takes time, especially given the short word limit.  Do not rush this; draft and redraft.  If you do rush it do not expect a good mark.

You have to choose two different topics from week 2-week7, and then choose one of the readings in different weeks to do the topic review paper(total 2 topic review papers):

The highlight readings are downloaded!!!Please check the documents!!!

week 2: Theory and Practice or Theory in Practice: Is Planning With the Head or With the Hands?


1- Fanstein, S.S. (2005) Planning theory and the city, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 25, pp.121-130.

2- Kolsterman, R.E. (1985) Arguments for and against planning, Town Planning Review 56/1, pp.5-20.

3– Dore, J. (2001) The planning jigsaw – too many pieces? Australian Planner 38/2, pp.102-104. CONTEMPORARY PLANNING THEORY: ARTICLE REVIEW.

week3: The Modernist Age and the Rise of Rationalism


1- Natrasony, S.M. and Alexander, D. (2005) The rise of modernism and the decline of place: the case of Surrey City Centre, Canada, Planning Perspectives, 20, pp.413-433.

2- Beauregard, R.A. (2001) The multiplicities of planning, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 20, pp.437-439.

3– Næss, P. (2015) Critical Realism, Urban Planning and Urban Research, European Planning Studies, 23:6, 1228-1244

week4: The Postmodern Turn and the Rise of Relativism

Readings: Readings as per Week 3

week5: Communicative Planning, Collaborative rationality and the public/planning interface


1- Healey, P. (1999) Institutional analysis, communicative planning and shaping places, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 19, pp.111-121.

2- Innes, J.E. and Booher, D.E., 2016. Collaborative rationality as a strategy for working with wicked problems. Landscape and urban planning, 154, pp.8-10.

3– Goodspeed, R., 2016. The death and life of collaborative planning theory. Urban Planning, 1 (4), pp.1-5.

week6: GUEST LECTURE- Collaborative city making: An architectural perspective on understanding the value of user-engagement in the design and planning processes.


1 Forester, J 2013, On the theory and practice of critical pragmatism: Deliberative practice and creative negotiations, Planning theory, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 5-22.

2- London, KA & Cadman, K 2009, Impact of a fragmented regulatory environment on sustainable urban development design management, Architectural Engineering and Design Management, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 5-23.

week7: GUEST LECTURE – Coming to terms with the creative city


1- Colman, J. (2005) It is people who are creative, not cities, Australian Planner 42/1, pp.22-24

2- Peck, J. (2005) Struggling with the creative class, International Journal of Urban and Regional Planning, 29/4, pp.740-770. CONTEMPORARY PLANNING THEORY: ARTICLE REVIEW.


Students are required to prepare topic review papers on any topic other than the one they act as seminar

leader for. These papers are short reviews of the key reading for the topic. They are to be 750 words in length


Further details of the topic review papers structure/content is available on the course homepage

Topic review papers are due on the evening of the relevant topic.

All assignments are to include appropriate acknowledgement of sources and referencing is to adhere to the