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Dr Francesca Sartorio

Dr Francesca Sartorio

Lecturer in Planning

School of Geography and Planning

+44 (0)29 208 76221
Room 1.61, Glamorgan Building


Francesca has been a Lecturer in Planning at the School since October 2004. As academic roles within the School she has co-ordinated the EU Erasmus/Socrates Programme (2004-2007), has been a member of the International Centre for Planning Research (2004-2008), has acted as BSc CRP Yr4 tutor (2008-2001), and is currently the Internationalisation Champion for the School. As such, she is in charge for the production of a yearly report on Internationalisation in the School and for collecting evidence and developing an agenda for the strategic development of this important area for the School.

Alongside these duties, in May 2006 she became European Editor for the Journal of International Planning Studies, supporting Prof John Lovering acting as Editor. Following Prof Lovering retirement in 2011 Francesca co-edits the Journal together with Dr Shin Lee.



Francesca has studied in Italy and Germany and has spent her student's placement year in Scotland. Her first degree is a Laurea in Architettura - which is a 5 years course in 'Architettura - Indirizzo urbanistico', focusing on urban design and urban planning - from theUniversità degli studi di Roma 'La Sapienza', Rome (I) for which she got full marks and honours (110/110 e lode).  Her dissertation focused on the regeneration of Bagnoli, a settlement in the surround of Naples grown around a former (steel) industrial site. This built on the interest for the regeneration and re-planning of areas strongly hit by de-industrialisation that she developed whilst in the Ruhr region of Germany as an Erasmus students. Her work looked at the physical regeneration of the site, with a specific interest in the feasibility of the project (looking at actors, finance and markets alongside design).

She holds also a Doctorate in Urban and Territorial Planning from the Università degli studi di Roma 'La Sapienza', Rome (I). Her PhD dissertation looked at strategic planning and research work was carried out in Italy (Milan and Rome) and Germany (Munich and Duisburg, with a base at University of Dortmund, Faculty of Planning, Department of European Planning). Her findings led her to conclude that - whilst 'strategy' remains an ambiguous term in the discipline - a) local narratives and local planning milieus are crucial in loading the term with a specific character; and b) that planning episodes that call themselves 'strategic' are more likely to introduce change in planning modes and governance in specific localised societies.

As a planning professional, in Italy she is a chartered Architect and Planner (National Institute of Italian Architects, Rome: since March 2000 with n° 13186) and a member of INU(Italian National Institute for Planning: since March 2000). She will, one day, get RTPI accreditation in the UK; this has been difficult thus far since, since moving to Cardiff, Francesca has only worked in academia (hence time is limited and pressure for accreditation faint).

As a teaching professional, Francesca has completed half of her Post-Graduate Degree in University Teaching and Learning (PCUTL 1, Cardiff University, 2006) and is currently enrolled in the second half, aiming to complete in 2013.


Francesca has been at Cardiff since 2004. She took a career break in 2008 and, since her return the following year, she has been working part time. Prior to coming to Cardiff,  she worked in academia in Germany (as a researcher at ERP, Fakultät Raumplanung, Universität Dortmund and at the Fachgebiet Geographie, Universität Bochum between 2002 and 2004). She also performed duties as Graduate Teaching Assistant at DPTU, Università degli Studi di Roma 'La Sapienza', Roma (I), between 1998 and 2004.

In parallel to her academic career Francesca developed experience in editing. In 2002 she edited a book summing up research findings on the rebuilding efforts in Umbria following the 1996 earthquake (for the Umbria Regional Government). She was then (2002 - 2003) member of the Editorial board for the Rapporto dal territorio 2003 (the Italian National Institute for Planning yearly report on the State of Planning in Italy). More recently she has acted as European Editor for the Journal of European Planning Studies (2006-2011) and is currently co-Editor (with Dr. S. Lee) of the same Journal (from 2011).

In between her first degree and her doctorate Francesca worked as a planning consultant within Studio Nigro, Rome (I), and was in particular involved in the development of land use plans for medium to large size cities in central Italy; was in charge for the Norme tecniche di attuazione for the new Piano regolatore generale of the City of Rome; for the revision of regional planning law (LR31/1997) and framework for the region Umbria; and for the evaluation of planning tools at local and regional level (1998 - 2002). She took also part in some of the consultancy work undertaken by the Department of Urban and Territorial Planning of the University of Rome (working, for example, on the new Structural plan for the City of Grosseto for the Grosseto City Council, 2001 - 2002).






  • Sartorio, F. 2016. Strategy at work: a decade of strategic planning in Wales. In: Albrechts, L., Balducci, A. and Hillier, J. eds. Situated Practices of Strategic Planning: An International Perspective. Routledge Advances in Regional Economics, Science and Policy Vol. 18. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 197-214.









Francesca has been a member of the Spatial Planning and City Environments Research Group since joining the School.


Francesca's main interests focus on planning as a social activity involving decision making processes of political and technical nature, aimed at shaping and re-shaping territories and the future of localised societies in a never-ending process. She sees territories (their shape, resources, threats and opportunities as well as the way they are described, treated and planned) as crucial for the definition and development of societies. And she sees planning and governance as strongly linked areas of public activity, able of influencing and shaping each other in a continuous mutual exchange. She is particularly interested in how - in a world characterised by globalisation and by multi level governance and dominated by a development imperative impacting on planning aims - local milieus retain a crucial role in shaping local futures; in understanding and tracing the role played by key creative actors; and in how innovation of planning and governance practices emerges, 'sticks' and develops. Her work often uses social institutionalism as a framework and links critical narrative analysis with participatory approaches. From this perspective she has looked at strategy in planning and strategic planning (this, for some unknown reason, keeps on being an area Francesca returns to at regular intervals); planning traditions and planning systems in Europe; lessons learning in planning policy making and Europeanisation in/of planning practice.

She is currently working around strategy in planning from a linguistic perspective; road users pricing policies as radical policies; transnational lessons learning on proactive planning; and the influences of culture on urban form and urban design.

Alongside these typically 'planning' topics she occasionally strands into foreign areas of knowledge. As part of these outings she has worked on Europeanisation of UK HEIs and is presently busy finding her way in the literatures of teaching in the internationalised class and of value-making through teaching.

Recent Research Projects

Francesca is currently working on a research project for the Welsh Government (led by ARUP together with Cardiff University) on 'A New Approach to Managing Development in Wales'; and on a Cardiff University sponsored small research project on 'Innovations in the planning system(s), a case study of Milan (I)'. She is also developing a research agenda on how values are passed on through teaching and the impact of this on Internationalisation of UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and maintains her interest on monitoring how Europeanisation penetrates UK HEIs through Bologna process-related policies.

After some time spent thinking Francesca has concentrated on writing and the following articles are on the way, all at different stages in the writing/submission/revision/publication process:

Sartorio, F.S., Strategy in planning and Strategic Planning: an Agenda for Further Research

Sartorio, F.S., Strategy in planning: shifting meanings and plastic wor(l)ds

Sartorio, F.S., Creativity, Calculus and Road Pricing Schemes - the case of Cardiff

Sartorio, F.S., Road Users Pricing in the UK - Changing Discourses in Time of Crisis

Sartorio, F.S.; Morgan, G. ; Oliver, R., Europeanisation as bi-product of an underperforming EU programme? A tentative research agenda stemming from an exploratory research project on Erasmus in British HEIs

Sartorio, F.S., The learning experience in the International classroom: shifts in contexts and approaches

In order to think (and write), discussion and exchange is crucial. Francesca is acting as first and second supervisor for a number of students in the School and this helps her developing her thoughts. This is also an area of her work that Francesca truly enjoys. At present (2012) she is first supervisor (with Dr Valeria Guarneros Meza from the Centre for Local Government Studies at Cardiff University) for Graham Martin, who is working on planning and institutional shifts in Chavez's Venezuela. She is second supervisor for Ioanna Katapidi (Dr Neil Harris first Supervisor), looking at conservation areas and participation in a comparative perspective, and for Elaine Davey (Dr Huw Thomas first Supervisor), looking at the role the work done by the Percy Thomas Partnership has had in defining the character and visual representation of Wales as a nation.

Francesca has had a career break in 2008. Relevant projects completed before the break are:

Appraisal of the Cardiff Road Pricing Scheme, for Cardiff CC Council (a collaboration between the Cardiff School of City and Regional Planning and the Welsh Economy Research Unit), Nov 2006-May 2007.

Creative Governance in City Regions (at Dortmund University, Fachgebiet Europaeische Raumplanung), 2004.

Innovative behaviours and creative modulation of instruments and procedures in strategic environments (at Universita' di Roma 'La Sapienza', Dept. of Urban and Territorial Planning), 2000 - 2004.

Flagships for the Ruhr (at Ruhr Universitaet Bochum, Dept. of Geography), 2002 - 2003.