Not available in 2013/14
Contemporary Urbanism

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Murray Low


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Development Studies (Research), MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Theoretical perspectives on contemporary cities, with a specific focus on the global nature of urban social and political change and development. The course will consider classic and recent theory and analysis emanating from Northern academic and policy contexts, while also challenging western-centric views of the city. In doing so, it aims to explore the mutual shapings of the differing urban experiences in these geographical contexts in a wide range of areas. In treating cities as crucibles of social, political and cultural transformation, the course will highlight the fractured and fragmented nature of the urban experience, as well as the global determinants of the contemporary city. The course will equip students interested in urban change and development to understand and consider appropriate responses to social and political aspects of cities.


20 hours of lectures in the MT. 20 hours of lectures in the LT.
10 x two-hour meetings in MT, 10 x two-hour meetings in LT.

Indicative reading

M Castells The City and the Grassroots, 1984; J S Davies
and D L Imbroscio (Eds), Theories of Urban Politics, second edition,
2009; M Davis, Planet of Slums, 2006; M Douglass and J Friedmann (Eds),
Cities for Citizens, 1998; D Harvey, Social Justice and the City,
1973; D Judge, G Stoker and H Wolman (Eds), Theories of Urban Politics,
1995; J Holston, The Modernist City, 1989; A Roy and N AlSayyad (Eds),
Urban Informality, 2004; S Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights,
2006; M P Smith, Translocal Urbanism, 2001.


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (12%, 2000 words) and project (13%, 2000 words).
Unseen three-hour examination (75%); one essay of 2,000 words (12.5%) and one 2,000 word project (12.5%).

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.9
Merit 53.8
Pass 23.1
Fail 5.1

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information