SO451      Half Unit
Cities by Design

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Richard Burdett TW2 8.01L

Dr Gunter Gassner STC S313


This course is compulsory on the MSc in City Design and Social Science. This course is available on the MSc in Sociology and MSc in Sociology (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This is a capped course and we can only accept 32 students. If you are not registered on the MSc City Design and Social Design please submit an e-mail to Gunter Gassner motivating your inclusion on the course, ONCE you have attended the first introductory lecture where we will be available to respond to individual questions.

Course content

The course examines the relationship between built form and its social, political and cultural impacts in the contemporary, changing city. By introducing students to key concepts and methodologies in city making, the course investigates how the design of our complex urban environments affects the people who live in them. The course focuses on current urban research and attempts to reconcile the often complex inter-connections between urban theory, research, policy and practice. While a range of contemporary cities form the base for the course, it is structured around a series of urban design principles and concerns which will be discussed by means of the following dualities: scale and order; plan and use; infrastructure and equity; accretion and rupture; visual order and informality; local and global; resilience and legacy. In exploring the links between the physical and social structure of the city on a macro and a micro scale, the course examines the contemporary city from close by and from afar, looking down, up and into it.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the MT.

Reading week: week 6

Formative coursework

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

Written feedback is given within two weeks of the essay submission, and in addition a writing seminar is incorporated in the course in preparation for the summative assessed essay.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course. Core background includes: Burdett,R and Sudjic, D (2008) The Endless City, London, Phaidon; Burdett, R and Sudjic, D (2011) Living in the Endless City; Larice, M. and Macdonald, E. (eds) (2007) The Urban Design Reader. London and New York: Routledge;. R. Sennett, (1991) The Conscience of the Eye: the design and social life of cities, London, Faber and Faber. Tonkiss, F (2013) Cities By Design: The social life of urban form, Cambridge: Polity.


Essay (75%, 5000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (25%) in the MT.

An illustrated course essay of not more than 5,000 words to be submitted by 4pm on the first Tuesday of LT. Two hard copies of the assessed essay, with submission sheets attached to all copies, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.Attendance at seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 18.1
Merit 52.1
Pass 28.7
Fail 1.1

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2014/15: 23

Average class size 2014/15: 25

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 89.5%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)