AESOP Quality Recognition for the European Dimension

in Planning Programmes

Preliminary document to discussed at Heads of Schools Meeting in Lisbon, March 2014

by Francesco Lo Piccolo, Maroš Finka, Anna Geppert and Kristina L. Nilsson



AESOP's mission is Promoting Excellence in Planning Education and Research. It is our responsibility to enhance the plural qualities of our teaching programmes. Through its categories of membership, AESOP already delivers recognition to planning schools, which share joint values and principles. At the occasion of several debates in the Heads of Schools meetings, it became clear that, in addition to this existing framework, a further active implication of AESOP is needed to defend, improve and support planning curricula.

For this purpose, we propose to develop a recognition process that will highlight certain dimensions of qualityin our Planning Programmes. We are now focusing on a specific quality of planning education which enhances the European dimension of planning professional profiles.

The European dimension in Planning Education:

Future planners that we educate will need to:
develop an attitude coherent with European values of cities;

be capable of working internationally, in particular in Europe;
understand the European context in which their practice is embedded. 

For this, planning programmes need to develop:

The transfer of knowledge, know-how, ideas, between European planners;
The mobility of students and teachers;
Teaching experiences that put students in different European contexts in the exercise of planning practice.


Our definition of quality recognition

By quality recognition, we understand making the best of the plurality and diversity of approaches of our schools. The core of our interest is the coherence between the principles, the contents and the way of implementation of a programme. We want to initiate a process based on the cooperation (not a competition) between our schools. Such quality recognition is not to be mistaken for an accreditation, which occurs at national level.

The overarching principles are expressed by :

The AESOP Core curriculum requirements (the backgroud)
The European dimension in the planning programme 

An incremental approach:
Developing a concept and methodology proposal. We need light, fast, efficient procedures, that do not generate an excessive amount of work, time and costs.

Test of the methodology
2014 HOS Lisbon meeting

Pilot study with a group of voluntary programmes.
In 2014/15

Analysing the outcomes of the experience
2015 HOS meeting


How does it work? Example



The pilot study is voluntary and performed without cost.

The pilot schools - who voluntarily apply - deliver a report according to the structure (annex 1).

A panel of 3 people prepare the evaluation for each programme of the pilot schools. Each panel (one for programme) is compound of 2 AESOP academics from other countries (different from the country of the school) and 1 practitioner (to be defined). They may benefit of the support of 1 “cultural mediator”, an AESOP academic from the country of the evaluated programme/school, available to explain how it works there. Contacts will be also established with the programme coordinator.


Report structure and guidelines


1. Background (coherence with AESOP core curriculum)

- School description (history, basic information, staff, number of students)

- Programme description

- Annexes. ECTS if applicable, Diploma supplement if applicable.


2. European dimension

How does the European dimension appear:

In the courses?
In practical activities?
In the final thesis / projects?
In the involvement of foreign academics and/or practitioners?
In research activities?
In international collaborations?



Information for and structure of the Quality recognition report




Scientific objectives

Of the Programme. Ex specific focus?

Professional objectives

Of the Programme. Ex jobs prepared.



Position in the academic environment (university, etc)



List of staff and qualifications

Programme structure

Curriculum, credits, etc.

Number of students




In the courses

Examples. Comparative planning. European Spatial Planning.

In the practical activities

Examples. Placement periods abroad. Workshops abroad, study tours.

In the final thesis and/or project

Examples. Comparative or European topics for the thesis. Projects in foreign countries. Possibility to submit in different languages.

Involvement of foreign teachers

Examples. Visiting professors. Reviewers.

Language(s) of tuition


Relation to research

Examples. Research programmes with European scope and/or funding

International collaborations

(eventually joint diplomas)

Examples. Active cooperation agreements. Erasmus. Joint diplomas. Mobility of students, mobility of staff. Summer schools. Intensive programs. Distance learning


AESOP would be delighted if you help to develop idea of  AESOP Quality Recognition for the European Dimension in Planning Programmes.

Please share your comments and recommendations.

If you have any questions please contact AESOP Vice President Francesco Lo Piccolo.

Download this document in pdf format.