Course code APL360

APL360 Planning for sustainable urban regions

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2021 - 2022 .

Course responsible: Jin Xue
ECTS credits: 15
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in Spring parallels. This course has teaching / evaluation in Spring parallels.
Course frequency: Annually
First time: Study year 2010-2011
Preferential right:
Course contents:
The focus of the course is primarily on planning in urban regions for sustainable development. The course will introduce urban sustainability debates and provide a critical perspective on the prevailing growth-based sustainable urban development paradigm; discuss spatial mechanisms at the urban regional level, through which planning strategies can have positive and negative impacts on both environmental and social sustainability; and stimulate creative planning thinking and approaches to improve environmental sustainability and social justice. The course consists of 15-16 lectures and a research project work in groups. The course includes four themes: (1) Introduction; (2) Land use and transport; (3) Transport planning and evaluation; and (4) Sustainability-oriented planning in urban regions. In parallel to the lectures, students will conduct a research project in groups, which leads to a report of around 25-30 pages long (ca. 8000 words). 
Learning outcome:

Upon successful completion of the course, the students will be able to:

  • debate different concepts and understandings of sustainable urban development;
  • identify social and economic driving forces of urban-regional spatial development;
  • explain relationships at an urban regional scale between land use, transport infrastructure and travel behavior;
  • identify and describe main strategies in land use and transport infrastructure planning at an urban regional scale for environmental sustainability;
  • critically assess concepts, methods and procedures in transport infrastructure planning;
  • analyze the consequences to environmental and social sustainability of land use solutions and proposals on the urban regional scale;
  • argue for or against certain land use, transport and housing solutions and polices based on certain values and norms;
  • propose alternative solutions and proposals for land use, transport infrastructure and housing development in urban regions based on certain norms and values;
  • obtain academic writing skills through preparing a research report involving analysis, critique and argumentation for or against spatial planning strategies.
Learning activities:
Lectures, seminar, project work.
Teaching support:
Each project group will be assigned a supervisor to facilitate their group work. The course responsible will normally be available via email.


Davoudi, C. (2008). Conceptions of the city-region: a critical review. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Urban Design and Planning, 161(2), pp. 51-60. (10 p.)

Dicken, P. (1990). Spatial organisation of economic activities: a Simplified model, Chap 1. In: Dicken, Peter, 1990: Location in space, s. 15-48. (34 p.)

Xue, J. (2014). Is eco-village/urban village the future of a degrowth society? An urban planner's perspective. Ecological economics, 105, 130-138.

Theme 1: Land use and transport

Næss, P.; Peters, S.; Stefansdottir, H. & Strand, A. (2018). Causality, not just correlation: Residential location, transport rationales and travel behavior across metropolitan contexts. Journal of Transport Geography, 69, pp. 181-195. (15 p.)

Næss, P. (2012). Urban form and travel behavior: experience from a Nordic context. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 5:21-45. (25 p.)

Næss, P., Næss, T. & Strand, A. (2011). Oslo’s farewell to urban sprawl. European Planning Studies, 19(1). 113-139. (27 p.)

Banister, D. (2008). The sustainable mobility paradigm. Transport Policy, 15: 73-80. (8 p.)

Theme 2: Transport planning and elucidation

Wegener, M. (2014). Land-Use transport interaction models. In: FISCHER, M. M. & NIJKAMP, P. (eds.) Handbook of Regional Science. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. s. 741-743. (3 p.)

Nicolaisen, M. S. & Driscoll, P. A. (2014). Ex-post evaluations of demand forecast accuracy: A literature review. Transport Reviews, 34(4): 540-557. (18 p.)

Næss, P. & Strand, A. (2015). Traffic forecasting at ‘strategic’, ‘tactical’ and ‘operational’ level: A differentiated methodology is necessary. disP, 51(2): 41-48. (8 p.)

Banister D. & Hickman R. (2012). Thinking the unthinkable. Transport Policy, 29:283-293. (11 p.)

Theme 3: Sustainability-oriented planning in urban region

Brenner, N., Marcuse, P. & Mayer, M. (2009). Cities for people, not for profit. City, 13(2):176 -184. (8 p.)

Xue, J. (2017). Eco-metropolis planning conditioned by the growth ideology: the case of Greater Copenhagen. Urban Design and Planning, 1-10.

Xue, J. (2021). Urban planning and degrowth: a missing dialogue. Local Environment, 1-19. (19 p.)

Harvey, D. (2008): The right to the city. New Left Review, 53:23-40. (23 p.)

Mete, S., & Xue, J. (2020). Integrating environmental sustainability and social justice in housing development: two contrasting scenarios. Progress in Planning, 100504. (25 p.)

Mouratidis, K. (2018). Is compact city livable? The impact of compact versus sprawled neighbourhoods on neighbourhood satisfaction. Urban Studies, 55(11), 2408-2430. (23 p.)

Næss, P. & Xue, J. (2016). Housing standards, environmental sustainability and social welfare. In: Næss, P. & Price, L. (eds.) Crisis System: A Critical realist and critical environmental critique of contemporary economics, pp. 130-148 London: Routledge. (19 p.)

MA level
Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:

Lectures, seminar, project work.

A minimum of 80% attendance is required for lectures and seminars.

The assessment will be based on the project group assignment. The evaluation of the project group assignment will be made by an external censor. The project group assignment will be evaluated in the A-F grading scale.
Nominal workload:

In total 375 hours:

Lectures: ca. 40 hours

Project work with supervision: ca. 200 hours

Self-study (reading literature, preparing for lectures, etc.): ca. 125 hours

Entrance requirements:
Minimum Requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (general admission)
Reduction of credits:
There is no overlap with other courses.
Type of course:
100 hours
The external censor evaluates and grades the project group assignments. A meeting will be organized where the censor gives oral feedback to the project groups attending the meeting. Attendance in the meeting is not obligatory.
Examination details: Group task: Letter grades