SA4H7      Half Unit
Urbanisation and Social Policy in the Global South

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sunil Kumar OLD.2.55


This course is available on the MSc in Development Studies, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations) and MSc in Social Policy (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is for postgraduate students interested in urbanisation and social policy in the Global South. The course is also open to students on other MSc Programmes dependent on spaces being available. Priority will be given to Social Policy students. Some knowledge and experience of urban issues are desirable. To apply for a place on this course, students will have to upload a statement not exceeding 250-words on LFY stating: (i) why they would like to take this course; (ii) what they can bring to the course; and (iii) how they intend to use the knowledge gained (for example, for their dissertation or future employment or research).

Course content

The course examines the social, economic and political challenges in the urban Global South from a range of theoretical and conceptual perspectives, and the policies and planning practices aimed at addressing them. Some of the themes explored in the course are urbanisation and social change, theoretical perspectives on the city, migration and the rural-urban interface, urban poverty and livelihoods, urban labour markets, urban housing and tenure, urban social movements, urban basic services and urban management and governance.  Students are expected to read the essential readings and also read widely.  They are expected to undertake a number of weekly activities, such as: My_City (short desk-based research pieces on key issues arising from the lecture with the view to gauge how much information is available and to refer to this information in the seminar that follows; and My_Forethought: about 100 words on what the student expects to gain from the lecture.


16 hours and 30 minutes of lectures and 16 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

  1. Dr Sunil Kumar will use the lecture slot in week 6 (reading week) to present his recent research.
  2. The seminar slots in reading week will be used for students to present their ideas for the summative essay for the course. All registered students are expected to attend the lecture and seminar slots.

Formative coursework

Students taking this course will have to write a 1,000-word formative essay (excluding references) as a draft of the summative essay. The learning pedagogy and learning outcome is to receive feedback on what may become the summative essay.  Given that the formative is intended to lead to a summative essay, students will not receive a grade but will receive written feedback. The deadline for the formative essay will be in week 8 or 9 of the term in which the course is taught. 

Students should take part in the range of seminar activities. Students are required to contribute to the seminars on a weekly basis by undertaking un-assessed activities called My-City and My_Forethought, details of which will be available on Moodle.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list is provided for each lecture and seminar via the LSE library's electronic reading list. The following is an introductory list of texts in alphabetical order (a number of them are available as e-books via the LSE library

Chant, S. (2010). The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy. London: Edward Elgar.

Gugler, J. (Ed.). (2004). World Cities beyond the West: Globalization, Development and Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hansen, K. T. and A. L. Dalsgaard (2008). Youth and the City in the Global South. Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press.

Kumar, S. (2001). Social Relations, Rental Housing Markets and the Poor in Urban India. Report for the UK Department for International Development (

Kumar, S and M.Fernandez (2016) 'The Urbanisation-Construction-Migration Nexus in Five Cities in South Asia: Kabul, Dhaka, Chennai, Kathmandu and Lahore (Research commissioned by the UK Department for International Development’s South Asia Research Hub (SARH), New Delhi, India. Six-page briefing Note - - Full report (30 MB) available at OR

Miraftab, F. and N. Kudva (2014). Cities of the Global South Reader, New York: Routledge.

Parnell, S. and S. Oldfield (2014). The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, London; New York, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Samara, T. R., S. He and G. Chen (2013). Locating Right to the City in the Global South. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY; London: Routledge.

Satterthwaite, D. and D. Mitlin (2014). Reducing Urban Poverty in the Global South. London, Routledge.

UN-HABITAT (2016). Urbanization and Development: Emerging Futures. World Cities Report 2016 (

Bartlett, S. et al (1999), Cities for Children, London: Earthscan.

Beall, J and S. Fox (2009). Cities and Development, Routledge.

Gugler, J. (1997). Cities in the Developing World: Issues, Theory, and Policy, New York; Oxford, Oxford University Press.

IOM (2015). Migration and Cities (

Mitlin, D. and D Satterthwaite (2004), Empowering Squatter Citizen: Local Government, Civil Society, and Urban Poverty Reduction, London: Earthscan.

OECD (2015). The Metropolitan Century: Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences, Paris: OECD Publishing.

Staples, J. (Ed) (2007). Livelihoods at the Margins: Surviving the City, Left Coast Press.

Westendorff, D. and D. Eade (Ed) (2002). Development and Cities, OXFAM.

UNHCS (1996). An Urbanising World: Global Report on Human Settlements, Oxford University Press.

UNFPA (2007). State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth, United Nations Population.


Exam (40%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (60%, 3500 words) in the ST.

Summative essays are required to address urban issues in the global South.  They can be: (1) an academic critique of an urban policy (existing or proposed); (2) the identification of an urban issue that does not have a policy but requires one; (3) a critique of a conceptual framework that has been used to address an urban challenge.  Students should note that i-iii are intended as starting points in approaching the summative essay; they are welcome to combine two or three of these starting points.  Those students approaching the essay from starting points 1 and 2 are required to propose broad policy solutions and address key barriers to the adoption of the proposed policy.  Those who would like to approach their essay from the perspective of point 3 will have to propose improvements to the conceptual framework being critiqued namely, how the critique changes the 'framing of the problem' and the associated policy implications.  Students can also critique urban policy and conceptual frameworks in the global North as long as they use policy outcomes and concepts from the global South.  In doing so, they are required to suggest policy and conceptual improvements to urban challenges in the global North.  This is designed to overcome the North-South divide and foster the transfer of principles.  Students who chose this option will have to demonstrate that the transfer of policy ideas or conceptual critiques, using literature from the urban South to the urban North, are feasible in terms of context, institutions and politics, for instance.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.3
Merit 64.3
Pass 21.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2017/18: 17

Average class size 2017/18: 17

Controlled access 2017/18: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2015/16 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 100%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)