GY470      Half Unit
Urban Africa

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Claire Mercer STC.418


This course is available on the MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Local Economic Development, MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies, 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.

This course is available to students in other departments and on other programmes where their regulations allow, and if there is space on the course. 

Course content

The course begins with an overview of the ideas and debates on urban Africa in theory and policy. The rest of the course looks at key issues currently facing African cities drawing on contemporary policy debates and research in human geography, African studies, development studies, urban studies, anthropology, sociology and planning studies. These include: urban pasts, urban economies, informality, rural-urban connections, planning, land, housing and infrastructure.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a Reading Week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

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

Formative assessment [1] will prepare students for the summative assessment [1], the policy brief. Students will prepare a draft of the final brief for feedback.

Formative assessment [2] students will prepare a draft of the assessed essay for feedback.

Indicative reading

de Boeck F and S Baloji (2016) Suturing the city: living together in Congo’s urban worlds, Autograph ABP, London

Diouf M and R Fredericks (eds) (2014) The arts of citizenship in African cities: infrastructures and spaces of belonging, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

Obeng-Odoom F (2016) Reconstructing urban economies: towards a political economy of the built environment, Zed, London

Myers G (2011) African cities: alternative visions of urban theory and practice, Zed, London

Parnell S and E Pieterse (eds) (2014) Africa’s urban revolution, Zed, London

Pieterse E and AM Simone (eds) (2013) Rogue urbanism: emergent African cities, Jacana Media with African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town

Quayson A (2014) Oxford Street, Accra: city life and the itineraries of transnationalism, Duke University Press, Durham and London

Robinson J (2006) Ordinary cities: between modernity and development, Routledge, Abingdon

Simone AM (2004) For the city yet to come: changing African life in four cities, Duke University Press, Durham and London


Coursework (40%, 1500 words) in the LT.
Essay (60%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Summative assessment [1] – 40% of overall mark – students will submit a 4 x A4 policy brief on an issue of urban development covered in the course, in an African city of their choice.

Summative assessment [2] - 60% of overall mark – a 3000 word essay – students will submit a 3000 word essay addressing an issue of urban development in an African city or cities from a critical scholarly perspective using ideas and literature from the course.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2017/18: 27

Average class size 2017/18: 13

Controlled access 2017/18: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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