AAR4525 - Urban Ecological Planning: Project Course


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Group Assignment
Grade: Letter grades

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Group Assignment 100/100

Course content

The core purpose of the course is to explore skills on community-based fieldwork, research, and practice, and to build critical self-awareness of the role of the urban practitioner in challenging environments. To these ends the course immerses students in a marginalised urban environment of a low- or middle-income country to undertake a real time situational assessment, and from that to develop strategic action plans and interventions. Working to a common course framework, students undertake participatory assessments and engage in the ‘messy reality’ of urban living to gauge insights into the complexities of urban development and informality. Central issues to explore include the role of key actors, uses of land, space and infrastructure, nature of governance systems (formal and informal) and coping strategies of community groups.

The course also gives the students tools to critically analyse collaborative situations and teamwork and promote responsible learning and practice in complex settings building an awareness of urban practice and research ethics. Through regular reflection sessions, students will be able to analyse their roles in interdisciplinary and multicultural project groups and make sense of the changes in their perception, behaviour and the understanding of their professional roles.

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The candidate will achieve an advanced understanding of critical issues in complex urban environments through close interaction with local communities and institutions. Students will have a critical understanding of the various facets of urban ecological planning and an asset based understanding of poverty, livelihood choices and strategic action planning. Candidates will develop an awareness of the value of local and contextual knowledge in designing action and strategies.

Skills: The candidate will apply methods of participatory research, co-design and problem formulation in a real life settings. The students will be able to synthesize the empirical material and develop proposals for action planning and strategic change in close cooperation with the local communities. The candidate will be able to work effectively in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural teams and to communicate their professional and personal standpoints with varied societal groups.

General competency: The students will develop an ability to navigate complex urban settings through interaction with stakeholders and institutions. The candidates will reflect on their role as individuals and professionals and take an ethical stance in face of competing needs and interests. The candidate will have the ability to critically reflect upon their roles as urban practitioners and members of interdisciplinary and multicultural project groups.

Learning methods and activities

The course involves a fieldwork of approximately 3 months in a marginalized urban neighbourhood in a low- or middle-income country, where students conduct intensive field research and cooperate with formal and informal institutions as well as local partners.

The course leader will inform the students if the fieldwork in low/ middle income country is obligatory or optional at the start of the semester. Obligatory fieldwork will be free of cost for all students. Students who participate in optional fieldwork must expect to pay a small share of the expenses. For students who do not participate in optional fieldwork, an alternative will be offered in Trondheim.

The foundation for the project work is laid during the introductory seminars at NTNU, Trondheim. During fieldwork, lectures, readings, seminars, reflection sections, and teamwork are undertaken with local resource-people and teachers. Through its composition of participants (students enrolled in the international program for Urban Ecological Planning, exchange students, and students from other degree programs from the Faculty) the course provides both cross-cultural and interdisciplinary learning.

Compulsory assignments

  • Portfolio

Further on evaluation

Assessment in the course will be based on area-based reports delivered by students in groups of 3-5 persons and a joint summary of the assignment for the semester, and four reflection papers submitted during the fieldwork where students will reflect on their use of methods in the field as well as their own learning through their experiences. All four reflection papers will have to be delivered in order to be able to submit the group reports.

The report should consist of the following: Abstract, Introduction including the problem statement, aim and main structure of the exercise (3-4 pages), Context of the area (5-6 pages), Methods (10 pages), Analysis and findings (ca 20 pages), proposed strategic and action intervention (ca 20 pages).

Specific conditions

Limited admission to classes. For more information:

Admission to a programme of study is required:
Architecture (MAAR)
Architecture (MAAR2)
Urban Ecological Planning (MSA1)

Required previous knowledge

Completed three years basic bachelor courses in a relevant field. The course must be taken together with courses AAR4820 Methods for participatory planning, codesign and localising SDGs and AAR5210 Theories in Urban Ecological Planning.

Course materials

Indicative readings include:

Hamdi, N. (2010). The placemaker's guide to building community (Tools for community planning). Earthscan.

Hamdi, N. & Goethert, R. (1997). Action planning for cities: A guide to community practice. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Altrock, U. (2012). Conceptualising informality: Some thoughts on the way towards generalisation. Urban informalities: Reflections on the formal and informal, 171-194.

Readings from the EiT Compendium and guides.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  15.0 SP
Study level: Second degree level


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  AUTUMN 2023
Extraordinary deadline for course registration: 2023-06-01

Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Urban Design and Planning
  • Design Strategies
  • Design Methodology
  • Town and Regional Planning
  • Architecture
Contact information
Course coordinator: Lecturer(s):

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Architecture and Planning


Examination arrangement: Group Assignment

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Autumn ORD Group Assignment 100/100 INSPERA
Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

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