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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:05

Course Overview

This course introduces the role of policy and governance in decision-making in relation to transport. Policy and governance frameworks are studied at a range of spatial scales from the local to the global. Approaches to the financing of transport are also examined. A wide range of policy instruments available to address transport problems are explored with reference to current case studies. The course focusses on key economic, social and environmental policy domains that relate to sustainable transportation and examines their evolution and current directions.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Mark Beecroft

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Master Of Science In Transport And Intelligent Mobility
  • Any Postgraduate Programme

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course introduces the role of policy and governance in decision-making in relation to transport. Policy and governance frameworks are studied at a range of spatial scales namely: EU and other inter-governmental; National (UK) including devolved administrations; regional and local government. International examples of good practice in policy and governance will also be considered.

The examination of policy and governance frameworks will address fundamental issues regarding how decision-making is undertaken in relation to transport.  Is there consistency in terms of the level at which strategic planning and policy making is undertaken? Does more local decision-making result in better decisions? Is there commonality in terms of the policy priorities and associated investment between nations, regions, cities?

The financing of transport projects will also be considered. This will involve study of the roles of the private, public and third sector in transport financing and investment in different spatial and administrative contexts. The role of partnership working as a means of building collaborative capacity will also be explored.

Transport decision makers have a range of policy instruments at their disposal when seeking to address transport problems. Examples of instruments discussed in the course include: infrastructure provision; infrastructure management; attitudinal and behavioural measures; information provision; land use planning; pricing; and vehicle technology including electromobility and automation.

The discussion of infrastructure will consider the evolution of policy making which has been characterised as representing a move from a broad philosophy of ‘predict and provide’ to one of targeted investment in strategic infrastructure alongside demand management. This characterisation will be critically examined to determine the degree to which consistency in policy making and governance has been achieved. Appreciation of ‘political realities’ including the importance of transport as a political issue, the role of pressure groups and the media in political discourse will also be examined in this context.

Attitudinal and behavioural change is difficult to legislate for but can radically alter travel behaviour often in unforeseen ways. The course will examine policy initiatives in the domain of travel behaviour change and relate these to underlying theory where appropriate. The links between travel behaviour, information provision, marketing and education will be explored in this context. Examples of practices such as teleworking and car sharing will be considered.

The fundamental relationship between land use planning and transport will be discussed. This will involve appreciation of the links between the design and location of settlements and the evolution of travel patterns and transport systems. The course will consider how policy and governance influences the development and use of land. The role that transport plays as a consideration in these decisions and processes will be considered with reference to case study examples.

Pricing is a diverse and longstanding policy instrument used to manage demand for transport. The course will examine the history and current practice of using pricing as a tool for managing access to transport infrastructure from bridges to roads and cities. The role of taxation as a pricing tool in relation to vehicles and fuel will also be considered. The role of fares in relation to public transport will be given limited coverage as it is covered in a separate course: Public Transport Systems.

Advancement in vehicle technology have and continue to dramatically influence the landscape for transport and mobility. The role of policy and governance in this domain has often been reactive rather than proactive. The course will examine the role that policy and governance plays to both stimulate and constrain technological innovation in the transport field. Current case study examples to be covered in detail in the course include electromobility and automation.

The course will cover key policy domains which relate to sustainable transportation. It will examine the evolution and current directions in economic, social and environmental aspects of transport policy and governance. In relation to the economy, the historic relationship between transport and economic growth will be explored. This will be followed by an exploration of recent and current policy initiatives which seek to ‘decouple’ economic growth from transport growth. The links between such initiatives and the economic efficiency aims of intelligent mobility will be explored.

The fundamental importance of the relationship between transport and the environment will be a key focus of study. The wider policy imperatives of mitigating climate change and improving local air quality have and continue to profoundly influence transport policy and governance and there will be detailed focus on these issues. A wide range of environmental impacts from transport and related policy and governance approaches to address them will also be considered, including (but not limited to):  noise; land-take; biodiversity; water quality; extraction and waste. The course will identify examples of good practice in transport-related environmental policy making and governance.

The social impacts of transport have perhaps been undervalued compared to economic and environmental concerns. The course will explore the relationship between transport, accessibility and social inclusion. It will trace the evolution of policy making in this domain and consider the role that mobility can play in addressing the spatial manifestation of social exclusion. Negative social impacts from transport policies such as safety/accidents, community severance and rationalisation of services will also be considered.

An area of ever-increasing public and policy concern is the impact of transport upon public health. This issue cuts across environmental, social and economic policy domains through issues such as air and noise pollution, sedentary lifestyles and obesity, and the mental health (stress) impacts of congestion. This growing recognition of health as a transport issue will be explored in the course.


Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Coursework (40%)

Online open book exam (60%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ProceduralEvaluateEvaluate the relative effectiveness of the application of different transport policy instruments to solve transport problems
FactualApplyApply understanding of transport policy and governance frameworks (including financing approaches) to real world contexts
ProceduralEvaluateEvaluate progress towards sustainable transportation in key economic, social and environmental policy domains.
FactualUnderstandUnderstand the role of policy and governance (including financing) in addressing problems related to transport and intelligent mobility

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