SO4A3      Half Unit
Cities and the Economy: Urban Economic Development and Finance

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Savvas Verdis TW2 8.01E


This course is compulsory on the Executive MSc in Cities. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course is only available to students registered in the Executive MSc in Cities.

Course content

Cities and the Economy forms part of the Executive MSc in Cities. This is an applied course looking at how cities position themselves in a competitive global economy and on the role of city government and firms in driving local economic development. The course introduces key methodologies to measure and analyse the city economy as well as policies and tools available to attract investment and finance as well as improve growth and competitiveness. 

From a global economic level, we will look at the forces shaping urban development and the capacity of national, regional and local policies to influence these drivers. From a more local economic level, we will look at the make-up and composition of a city economy and focus on how different sectors such as finance, manufacturing, real estate, education and ICT drive economic growth in different ways.

Topics include: measuring growth and competitiveness over time, comparative vs competitive advantage, key performance indicators of a city economy, local growth coalitions, the role of infrastructure and megaprojects in driving competitiveness, real estate as a driver of growth, getting your city ready for investment, managing city budgets, financing your city, global city indexes, special economic zones and other incentives, preparing a city development strategy.


4 hours and 30 minutes of lectures, 3 hours of seminars and 1 hour and 30 minutes of workshops in the MT. 10 hours and 30 minutes of lectures, 6 hours of seminars and 3 hours of workshops in the LT.

The course will be taught over a period of three sessions.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

500 word submission of a single aspect of an economic impact assessment for an urban development project. This work will feed into the final summative assessment.

Indicative reading

Greater London Authority 2010. The mayor’s economic development strategy for London.

Harris, Nigel and Fabricius, Ida 1996. Cities and structural adjustment. UCL Press.

O'Sullivan, Arthur. 2012. Urban economics. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Peterson, George E., and Patricia Clarke Annez. 2007. Financing cities fiscal responsibility and urban infrastructure in Brazil, China, India, Poland and South Africa.

Pike, A, Rodríguez-Pose, A & Tomaney, J. 2012. Local and Regional Development, Routledge.

World Bank, 2009. World Development Report. Reshaping Economic Geography, World Bank.


Additional readings:

Brookings Institute. 2010 Municipal Finance of Urban Infrastructure.

Imrie, Robert and Thomas, Huw 1999. British urban policy: an evaluation of the urban development corporations. SAGE.

The Cities Alliance et al. 2007. Understanding Your Local Economy – A Resource Guide for Cities. The Cities Alliance.

UN-HABITAT 2009. Guide to Municipal Finance. UN-HABITAT.

Vliet W. v. 2002. Cities in a globalizing world: from engines of growth to agents of change. Environment and Urbanization.

Zhang L.-Y. 2013. City Development Strategies and the Transition Towards a Green Urban Economy. The Economy of Green Cities: A World Compendium on the Green Urban Economy. Springer.


Essay (70%, 2000 words) in the ST.
Presentation (30%) in the MT.

Pitch a financing strategy for a selected case study area to an expert panel (30%) and submission of 2,000 word written report (70%).

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills