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benvgEPA Planning practices in Europe 2015-16
Task 1: comparative essay – brief and advice
Attention:write London and Paris
The first task in this module is to write a short essay comparing the planning
of two cities or regions.(London and Paris)
The word limit is 1,500 words but you can make generous use of maps and
diagrams. Your course handbook explains what the word-count covers.
Choose your two cities (or regions) so that their similarities and differences
(so far as you can discover from initial reading and your background knowledge) are of strong interest to you. Your essay could, for instance, compare how the selected places deal with similar urban problems in different ways; or how similar planning systems or practices might lead to different spatial, social or economic outcomes.
Both places must be large: cities with their metropolitan areas or other
extensive areas large enough to contain most of the homes and workplaces of
the population. You could choose two tourist regions or mountain regions if
you want to. At least one of the 2 must be in Europe. They must be in different
It is an essay, but that does not mean it has to be an un-broken flow of
elegant prose developing one single argument. Indeed it is highly unlikely that
your comparative study could become one single argument; far more likely
that you will identify and feel able to account for some similarities and
differences in the planning of the places, and some matters which you can’t
resolve or have not had the time or the evidence to deal with – in which case
say so within your essay.
You may certainly insert headings and so on to guide the reader but don’t
waste words on a title or contents page.
Do use maps, plans, charts, tables of statistics – generally whatever helps to
convey your meaning. It will be very odd if you do NOT have any maps or
There is a separate document on this Moodle page with advice on sources of
information for this assignment.
Other key points:
Don’t use bullet points: write sentences and paragraphs.
Take great care to cite all the sources of ideas, quotations, data and images
you use (Smith 1999; 17) in the text and then to have an alphabetical list of
your sources at the end of the essay. For example
Saunders, W S (Ed) (2006) Urban Planning Today, Minneapolis,
University of Minnesota Press.
Wachs, M (1989) ‘When planners lie with numbers’ Journal of the
American Planning Association 55 (4): 476-479.
If you quote anyone’s actual words, they must be “in quotation marks”. It does
not matter whether they are ‘single’ or “double” (or the << >> kind if you have
a continental keyboard).
When you quote web sources, follow the advice in Claire Colomb’s wonderful
BSP guide – copies from the office or download from this Moodle page.
We shall give you feedback, and a grade, using the following headings /
Approach to research: does it answer the brief?
Formulation of the essay and of problems and issues to compare;
Analytical / theoretical framework;
Relevance of material examined, omissions;
Drawing of useful conclusions
Structure of the essay;
Use of tables, maps, images;
Citation of sources;
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