The process of AESOP QR goes beyond the mere evaluation of planning programmes. It builds on an ethic of peer learning and engagement, reflexivity, creativity, deliberation and openness to trigger change in response to societal challenges. It is an opportunity for member schools to strive for the excellence in planning education jointly.

How does the QR process take place in practice and what are its main benefits?

  • Preparation of the QR application: AESOP member schools from all across Europe are encouraged to submit their QR applications after the launch of an annual call. The form demands that applicants engage in constant intra-institutional reflection whilst evidencing every claim made in relation to the requested criteria on programme distinctiveness and principles of pedagogy.

  • Review of application submissions: The appointed WG reviews the applications whilst preparing a first interim feedback report, which is then forwarded to the applicants in preparation for a first physical or virtual meeting alongside the WG.

  • First meeting: The interim feedback report serves as the basis through which applicants and the WG engage in dialogue deliberating on missing programme-level and pedagogical evidence in relation to any claims being made. This exercise is aimed at jointly identifying best practices that can contribute to develop a clear understanding of the different characters and identities of the planning programme across Europe and how it fulfils the stated criteria.

  • Successive rounds of re-submissions and meetings: an iterative process consisting of one, two or more rounds of re-submissions (each followed by interim feedback reports and subsequent interactions between the applicants and the WG) are held until the final application fully complies with the criteria. It is important to note that there is no rejection of applications. When applicants are unable to satisfy specific criteria, the application is taken forward and continued within the next annual QR process. The underlying approach is then to secure a continual improvement of planning education amongst AESOP members.

The QR annual timeline allocates a total of four to five months to the above processes. The full recognition is formalised by the AESOP Certificate of Quality, which is accompanied with an Evaluation Reportshowcasing best practices in terms of the programme curriculum, its identity and fulfilment of principles of pedagogy. The certification is valid for six years and awarded at the annual AESOP General Assembly. The AESOP Certificates of Quality alongside their Evaluation Reports showcasing best practices are displayed on the AESOP QR webpage to promote a proactive and cooperative process of collective improvement of quality in planning education among the AESOP member schools.


In applying for quality recognition, the main benefits for applicants comprise inter alia:

  • Opportunities to engage in critical dialogue with members of the EEB concerning the programme's curriculum identity, contents, pedagogies, etc;.
  • Champion best practices within the AESOP community, and
  • Foster an ethic of quality enhancement amongst the programme's staff.

* The text in this section is drawn from:

Galland, D & Chettiparamb, A. (2020). Enhancing Quality in Planning Education Across Europe: Towards an Ethos of Sharing and Mutual Learning in AESOP Quality Recognition. Disp - The Planning Review, 56(4), pp. 40-47.