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Methods and Techniques: Socio-Spatial Analysis

6 ECTS credits
180 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4018481BNR for all students in the 1st semester at a (B) Bachelor - advanced level.

Information about this course is applicable on academic year 2017-2018.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method

Grading (scale from 0 to 20)

Can retake in second session
Taught in
Faculty of Science and Bio-engineering Sciences
Responsible organisation
Educational Team:
  • Paul BLONDEEL (course titular)
    Activities and contact hours
    • 21 contact hours Lecture
    • 15 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
    • 80 contact hours Independent or External Form of Study
    Course content

    The course contains (1) a syllabus, (2) a key text concerning the analysis of the urban ground plan and (3; 4) two series of slides.  Finally (5) a day of training will be organized.  During this two session training day, students can  get acquainted with basic techniques in morphological and spatial-anthropological urban research.   This exercises or linked to a specific area in Brussels. The student uses the training day to deepen  his insight and understanding of the other sections of the course.  The training day is obligatory: its date will be picked during the first lecture.  Depending on the academic year, the training day can be replaced by a (one session) tutorial on the research plan and the formulation of well defined research questions. 

    There are 7 or 8 lectures:

    Lesson 1 & 2

    • Changing roles and positions in contemporary urban planning (four missions and mandates)
    • Changing role of the planning authority (governance; the town planner as stage director; facilitator; the classic planner)
    • Research effectiveness and efficacy – the importance (and the problematic of) well-defined research questions in trajectories of urban planning and spatial design/research

    Lesson 3 & 4

    • To act systematically and methodically: the research context and the relation with the client. 
    • The research layout plan in classic town planning research; in area bounded contexts and in project bounded situations.  
    • The analysis of the urban ground plan – part 1

    Lesson 5 (& 6) 

    • Or training day in a Brussels area (with in-the-field exercises) [ two sessions ];
    • Or a training session on research lay-out and research-questions: good practices; own experiences; tips and tricks; things to avoid.  [ single session ]

    Lesson  7 (& 8)

    • Techniques in urban and spatial analysis: list of types and examples
    • The analysis of the urban ground plan – part 2
    • Area specificity and urbanistic analysis: the built landscape as social and economic product of former generations: key concepts in the thinking of Henry Lefebvre, Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu – implications for urban analysis.
    • looking back on the training day: lessons learned.
    Additional info


    Programme Objectives

    Final Competencies

    In this practical course on methods, levels A1 and A3 are addressed; in the domain of the more applied skills, levels S1 and S6 are trained. There is the specific training day with fieldwork and interviews with local professionals: this day addresses how to function in a broad network of actors and stakeholders (level S4); the training of team skills and project-bounded skills (level A4).  Level S5 is trained mainly in its knowledge aspect and not in terms of application (knowing how). 

    The course focuses mainly on S1 and S6; skills related to S3 (‘mastering planning instruments and techniques’) are oriented to (a) the assessment of area specific programs in a given project area and to (b) area specific analysis and planning.  Classical techniques dealing with urban town planning, are a minor in the actual layout of the course as they are dealt with in other courses. 

    Matrix of competences for “methods and techniques”

    B = starting level; E = end level; dna = does not apply

    A1 - Abilities concerning reasoning: B: to know; E = to show how

    A2 - To document and inform oneself: B: to know; E = to show how

    A3 - Organizing a research trajectory in a independent way: B: to know; E = to know how

    A4 - Project bounded team work: B: to know; E = to know how

    A5 - Goal oriented communication: dna

    A6 - Operating in an international context: dna


    Skills on the professional level for “methods and techniques”

    S1   - To analyse and to read the spatial structure of a project area.  B = to know; E to know how

    S2   - Designing: dna

    S3   - Mastering specific instruments and techniques: B = to know; E= to know how / to show how

    S4  - To operate in a broad field of actors and stakeholders: B = to know; E= to know / to know how

    S5  - Capacity of project management: B = to know ; E = to know how

    S6  - Awareness of societal responsibility as a town planner: B = to know; E = to show how


    1. Kennisname van de grote opdrachten, rollen en beroepsprofielen binnen de stedenbouwkundige discipline.  De relevante informatie verwerken over de verschuivende rol van de (plannende) overheid en de rollen daar tegen over leren afzetten.  “Voors” en “tegens” kunnen benoemen van die gewijzigde beroepspositie en die nuancering ook kunnen toepassen in concrete (zij het fictieve) onderzoeksettings.  Informatie verwerken over de beleidscontext(en) waarin stedenbouwkundige functioneren en ook daat de verschuiving richting governance kunnen benoemen; de consequenties daarvan in concrete zij het deels fictieve onderzoeken klunen benoemen.  
    2. Zichzelf vertrouwd maken met de grote methoden van gebiedsgericht onderzoek en stadsanalyse, zowel enkelvoudige als meervoudige technieken, zowel morfologische als sociologische en sociaal geografische.  Kennis nemen van het specifieke samenspel tussen verschillende gegevens en gebeurtenissen in een gebied – de ruimtelijke de talige en de praxeologische.  
    3. In een complexe en reële wijksituatie de en geconfronteerd met een overaanbod van kwalitatieve, kwantitatieve en ruimtelijke gegevens, in enkele uren tijd met 3 à 4 collega studenten een voorstel maken voor wijkverbetering en daarbij zichzelf beperken tot specifieke keuzes die men probeert te verantwoorden vanuit de aangeboden leerstof..

    The final grade is composed based on the following categories:

    • Written Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

    Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

    Schriftelijk examen with a relative weight of 20 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

    Note: Open boek examen

    Additional info with regard to grading

    The exam is open book and contains the 5 sections described above.  Students are allowed to consult their syllabus, the key text on the urban ground plan, the slides and their own notes.  The exams does not question memory but understanding.  Students are able to apply the subject matters in a new situation and/or in a new area that is presented to them.