Not available in 2013/14
GY479      Half Unit
The Urban Revolution

This information is for the 2013/14 session.


This course is available on the MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies, MSc in Social Policy and Development, 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

This course uses the concept of "urban revolution" as an organising principle to introduce students to key theories and debates related to societies undergoing rapid urban change. Course lectures examine "urban revolution" in three senses. The first pertains to Henri Lefebvre's use of the term to signify the "complete urbanization of society," a historical process by which social life, even outside of cities, becomes urbanised. This means addressing the relationship between the country and the city, the idea of the urban in historical perspective, and the relationship between urban life in the global North and South. The second treatment of "urban revolution" considers the city as a site for radical political change and social experimentation. This means studying cities as spaces of movement, resistance, and innovation, with an emphasis on urban experiments in the South. Thirdly, urban revolution is analysed in terms of the explosion of policies aimed at managing the place and function of cities in the global economy. Through these three lenses - theory, politics and policy - the course aims to equip students with a conceptual and empirical foundation for analysing globalised urbanisation, with particular attention to emerging urbanisms in the South. Topics covered may include the following: urban revolution, the right to the city, the colonial and postcolonial city, the space of the state, the politics of infrastructure, eviction and displacement, urban political ecology, urban informality.


20 hours of lectures in the MT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

A via mock examination early in ST.

Indicative reading

M Berman, All That is Solid Melts into Air, 1982; M Castells, The
City and the Grassroots, 1984; M Davis, Planet of Slums, 2006; T
Caldeira, City of Walls: Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in Sao Paolo,
2001; P Chatterjee, The Politics of the Governed, 2004; S Graham and S
Marvin, Splintering Urbanism, 2001; J Holston, The Modernist City,
1989; H Lefebvre, Writing on Cities, 1996; A Merrifield, Metromarxism,
2002; J Robinson, Ordinary Cities, 2005; A Roy and A Ong, Worlding
Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, 2011; E Soja,
Seeking Spatial Justice, 2010.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 20
Merit 66.7
Pass 13.3
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information