Theory versus practice in planning education: the view from South Africa

Stuart Denoon-Stevens, Lauren Andres, Phil Jones, Lorena Melgaco Silva Marques, Ruth Massey, Verna Nel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
171 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reflects on the ongoing debate between theory and practice in planning, using the example of South Africa. Based on survey responses, it discusses how planning education in South Africa is perceived to prepare students for practice. While we acknowledge that the majority of respondents view their planning education positively, the results reveal challenges regarding the practical application of theory, especially in the case of land-use management. We then respond to calls for contextualised practices of knowing, emphasising the ‘local’ in planning education so that theory and practice can be combined across contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-525
Number of pages17
JournalPlanning, Practice and Research
Issue number4
Early online date12 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the South African National Research Fund under [Grant 105399]; United Kingdom Economic Social Research Council under [Grant ES/P00198X/1].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • planning education
  • South Africa
  • planning practice
  • planning theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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