SO4A4      Half Unit
Cities and the Environment: Urban Environmental Transitions

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Philipp Rode FAW 8.01I


This course is compulsory on the Executive MSc in Cities. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course is only available to students registered in the Executive MSc in Cities.

Course content

Cities and the Environment explores critical aspects of environmental sustainability in relation to both urbanisation globally and urban change in individual cities. This is an applied course giving students the relevant tools to measure, analyse and assess environmental impact. It introduces debates on different green city paradigms and focuses specifically on approaches to urban climate change mitigation and adaptation. The course further examines implications for urban planning, governance and management.  

Cities and the Environment aims to provide the students with an analytical understanding of environmental challenges linked to urban development. Based on these, students are introduced to planning approaches, policy instruments and governance arrangements enabling environmental sustainability and resilience, facilitating the transition to a green economy in cities.

Topics include: environmental sustainability, green economy, environmental impact assessments, climate change adaptation and mitigation in cities, climate resilience, urban environmental transition, resource consumption, pollution, biodiversity.


4 hours and 30 minutes of lectures, 3 hours of seminars and 1 hour and 30 minutes of workshops in the MT. 10 hours and 30 minutes of lectures, 6 hours of seminars and 3 hours of workshops in the LT.

The course will be taught over a period of three sessions.

Formative coursework

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

500 word submission detailing the implementation logic of an urban environmental strategy of your choice

Indicative reading

Bicknell, J., D. Dodman and D. Satterthwaite (2012): Adapting Cities to Climate Change: Understanding and Addressing the Development Challenges. Taylor & Francis.

Girardet, Herbert (2008): Cities people planet: urban development and climate change. John Wiley & Sons Incorporated. 

Heck, S., M. Rogers and P. Carroll (2014): Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Kahn, Matthew E (2013): Climatopolis: how our cities will thrive in the hotter future. Basic books.

Simpson, R. and M. Zimmermann (2012): The Economy of Green Cities. A World Compendium on the Green urban Economy. Springer. New York

McGranahan, Gordon, Pedro Jacobi, Jacob Songsore, Charles Surjadi and Marianne Kjellen (2001): The citizens at risk: from urban sanitation to sustainable cities. Earthscan.

Rosenzweig, C., W.D. Solecki, S.A. Hammer and S. Mehrotra (2011): Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network. Cambridge University Press.

Wheeler, Stephen Maxwell and Timothy Beatley (2004): The sustainable urban development reader. Psychology Press.

Wood, Christopher (2003): Environmental Impact Assessment: A Comparative Review. Prentice Hall.

Additional readings: 

Banister, David (1997): Reducing the need to travel.

Campbell, Scott (1996): Green cities, growing cities, just cities?: Urban planning and the contradictions of sustainable development.

Crawford, J. and S. Davoudi (2012): Planning for climate change: strategies for mitigation and adaptation for spatial planners. Routledge.

GCEC (2014): Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (GCEC).

Giddens, Anthony (2009): The politics of climate change. Polity. Cambridge ; Malden, MA.

Jenks, Mike and Rod Burgess (2000): Compact cities: sustainable urban forms for developing countries. E. & F.N. Spon.

Kahn, Matthew E (2006): Green cities: urban growth and the environment. Cambridge Univ Press.

Newman, P., T. Beatley and H. Boyer (2009): Resilient cities: responding to peak oil and climate change. Island Press.

Newman, Peter (2006): The environmental impact of cities.

OECD (2012): Compact City Policies: A Comparative Assessment. OECD Green Growth Studies.

Rode, Philipp, Graham Floater et al. (2012): Going Green: How cities are leading the next economy. LSE Cities, ICLEI and Global Green Growth Institute. London.

Satterthwaite, David (2008): Cities’ contribution to global warming: notes on the allocation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Stern, Nicholas (2009): A blueprint for a safer planet: how to manage climate change and create a new era of progress and prosperity. Bodley Head. London.

UN Habitat (2011): Global Report on Human Settlements 2011: Cities and Climate Change. Nairobi.

UNEP (2011): Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication.

Urry, John (2011): Climate Change and Society. John Wiley & Sons.


Presentation (30%) and essay (70%, 2000 words) in the LT.

Present an environmental strategy for an urban development project (30%) and submission of 2,000 word written report (70%). 

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2017/18: Unavailable

Average class size 2017/18: Unavailable

Controlled access 2017/18: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills