GY400      Half Unit
The Economics of Urbanisation

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof John Henderson Stc.506b


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 Environment and Development, MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in Local Economic Development, MSc in Real Estate Economics and Finance, MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


No specific course requirements. At a minimum, students should have an analytical 1 unit course in principles of economics (or equivalent) and a basic statistics or econometrics course. However, it is desirable that students have more advanced training in economics and econometrics.

Course content

This MSc course will offer students the opportunity to learn some of the conceptual foundations and empirical regularities involved in studying why countries urbanise, the nature of structural and spatial transformation involved in the urbanisation process and the development of systems of cities. Complementing this will be a study of the internal spatial transformation of cities, the evolution of the location of production activities, the formation and role of slums, and the evolution of land market regulations and property right assignments. Critical to understanding these processes will be learning about the role of regulation and political processes, as well as policy initiatives, in shaping outcomes. The course will also examine the current process of urbanisation in Asia and Africa in the various special contexts of different regions and countries, drawing from lessons of the past as experienced in Latin America and parts of the developed world.


20 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

The first two weeks of seminars will involve a review of basic statistical methods to help prepare students for class and lecture material.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

Indicative reading

Duranton G. (2008), 'Viewpoint: From cities to productivity and growth in developing countries', Canadian Journal of Economics, Vol. 41, No. 3, 689-736

Ghani E, S. O’Connell and E. Rossi-Hansberg (2014) 'The Spatial Development of India,' Journal of Regional Science, forthcoming

Brueckner J (2009) 'Government land use interventions: an economic analysis' in Urban Land Markets, S.V. Lall et al (eds), Springer

Zhou Y. and J.R. Logan (2008) 'Growth on the Edge: the New Chinese Metropolis' In J.R. Logan (ed.), Urban China in Transition

Bertaud A and J Brueckner (2005) 'Analyzing building height restrictions: predicted impacts and welfare costs' Regional Science and Urban Economics, 35, 109-125

Zhou M. and G. Cai. (2008) 'Trapped in Neglected Corners of a Booming Metropolis.' In J.R. Logan Urban China in Transition

Galiani S. and E. Schargrodsky (2011), 'The dynamics of land titling regularization and market development', United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economic Research, Working Paper No. 2011/88.


Exam (80%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Presentation (20%) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2014/15: 11

Average class size 2014/15: 11

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills