Not available in 2018/19
SO477      Half Unit
Urban Social Theory

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Madden STC S209


This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy and MSc in Sociology. 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 and postcolonialism, which are used as lenses through which to understand a variety of topics, such as socio-spatial restructuring, neoliberalisation, public space, globalisation, 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

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 (80%, 5000 words), other (10%) and class participation (10%) in the LT.

The other assessment consists of weekly memos (10%) submitted via Moodle the evening before each class session during the LT.

Two hard copies of the assessed essay with submission sheets on each, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116, no later than 16:30 on the second Thursday of Lent Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2017/18: 21

Average class size 2017/18: 22

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