Spring 2023 - PLAN 400 D100

Planning Theory and Policy Analysis (4)

Class Number: 5024

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    AQ 3003, Burnaby

    Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    AQ 3003, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PLAN 100 or 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 theory, practice, and analysis, with a focus on problems in environmental 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, we will focus on methods and techniques associated with policy change. The course will examine:
   * The nature of policy problems and the role of problem definition in policy-making;
   * The relationship between research and policy;
   * The role of (and challenges associated with) equity in policy and policy processes;
   * Stages in the policy-making process;
   * Policy participation;
   * 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.


You will learn to:

  1. Understand prominent theories of the policy process and how they can be used to study the development and implementation 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. Understand approaches to 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%
  • 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 is available through 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.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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