Spring 2021 - PLAN 400 D100

Planning Theory and Policy Analysis (4)

Class Number: 7230

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    PLAN 200 and 60 units.



Provides an advanced evaluation of planning theory, public policy and policy analysis, focusing on problems in urban and regional planning and resource and environmental management.


This course covers public policy and policy analysis, with a focus on problems in resource and environmental management and planning. An emphasis in the course concerns knowledge mobilization and policy impact. In addition to building an understanding of what public policy is and how policy analysis works, the course will examine:

  • Theories and models of the policy process;
  • The nature of policy problems and the role of problem definition in policy making;
  • The relationship between science and policy;
  • Stages or functions in the policy-making process and the participants and practices commonly associated with each;
  • The instruments that are available for achieving policy aims;
  • Methods and criteria for evaluating policy processes and outcomes;
  • Conceptual frameworks for analyzing and organizing knowledge about policy and socio-ecological systems.
PLAN 400 is a synchronous lecture course with two, two-hour sessions per week.


You will learn to:

  1. Understand prominent theories of the policy process and how they can be used to study the development and fate of policies;
  2. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of policies, critique the rationales offered in support of policies, and understand the processes through which policies are designed, adopted and implemented;
  3. Analyze and effectively intervene in policy processes;
  4. Conduct and present (orally and in writing) a policy analysis of a resource and environmental management, planning problem, in which you evaluate alternative strategies and make a recommendation to decision makers to address the problem.


  • Assignments 60%
  • Class Participation 10%
  • Mid-term exam 30%



Howlett, M., M. Ramesh, and A. Perl. 2020. Studying public policy: Principles and Processes. Fourth Edition. Oxford, U.K: Oxford University Press.
E-textbook available from SFU Bookstore: http://www.sfu.ca/bookstore/coursematerials

We will supplement the required texts with additional on-line (electronic) required reading and suggested reading for each class.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).