Not available in 2015/16
SO477      Half Unit
Urban Social Theory

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Madden


This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Sociology, MSc in Sociology (Contemporary Social Thought) and MSc in Sociology (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course is a comprehensive introduction to urban social theory. The class will focus on major concepts, paradigms, texts and thinkers in order to critically assess different ways of theorising the urban. It will analyse various forms of urban theory including political economy, human ecology, phenomenology, feminism, postmodernism and postcolonialism, which are used as lenses through which to understand a variety of topics, such as socio-spatial restructuring, urban utopianism, industrial transformation, neoliberalization, technocracy, infrastructural politics, multiculture, cosmopolitanism, the right to the city and planetary urbanisation.


20 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Thucydides. 2009 [c. fifth century BCE]. The funeral oration of Pericles and the account of the plague of Athens. Book 2.34-2.54 in History of the Peloponnesian War. Martin Hammond, trans. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Engels, Friedrich. 1887 [1872]. The Housing Question. London: Cooperative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers.

Park, Robert E., Ernest W. Burgess and Roderick D. McKenzie. 1967 (1925). The City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Castells, Manuel. 1977. The Urban Question. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lefebvre, Henri. 1991 [1974]. The Production of Space. Donald Nicholson-Smith, trans. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hayden, Dolores. 1988. “What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? Speculations on housing, urban design and work.” Signs 5 (3): S170-S187.

Young, Iris Marion. 2011 [1990]. “City Life and Difference.” Pp 226-256 in Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Graham, Stephen and Simon Marvin. 2001. Splintering Urbanism: Networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London: Routledge.

Kohn, Margaret. 2004. Brave New Neighborhoods: The privatization of public space. London: Routledge.

Simone, AbdouMaliq. 2005. For the City Yet to Come: Changing African life in four cities. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Wacquant, Loïc. 2007. “Territorial Stigmatization in the Age of Advanced Marginality.” Thesis Eleven 91: 66-77.

Magnusson, Warren. 2011. Politics of Urbanism: Seeing like a city. New York: Routledge.

Brenner, Neil. 2013. “Theses on Urbanization.” Public Culture 25 (1): 85-114.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in January.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2014/15: 27

Average class size 2014/15: 25

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills