SO451      Half Unit
Cities by Design

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Suzanne Hall STC.S212


This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

SO451 is a capped course and we can only accept 32 students. If you are not registered on the MSc City Design and Social Design please submit an e-mail to Suzanne Hall motivating your inclusion on the course, ONCE you have attended the first introductory lecture where we will be available to respond to individual questions.

Course content

The course examines the relationship between built form and its political, social and cultural relations in contemporary urban landscapes. By introducing students to established and emerging approaches to design, the course investigates how the design of our complex urban environments shapes and is shaped by the people who live in them, addressing the urgencies of our time and place. The course focuses on current urban research across diverse urban contexts and explores the inter-connections between urban theory, research, policy and practice. A range of contemporary cities across wide geographies form the base for the course, and these are explored through urban design milieu and architectures including: design as ideology, design as observation, and the architectures of infrastructure, evidence and insurgency.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the MT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

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

Written feedback is given within two weeks of the essay submission, and in addition a writing seminar is incorporated in the course in preparation for the summative assessed essay.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course. We simultaneously engage with literatures by architects (as a broadly defined practice) and a range of social scientists. These include architects exploring new modes of practice and research, for example: Bremner, Burdett, Davis, Easterling, Hall, Hernandez, Lokko, King, Kurgan, Mehrotra and Weizmann, as well as social scientists exploring design and city space, for example: Datta, Hayden, Holston, Jacobs, Madden, Massey, Mc Kittrick, Roy, Scott, Simone, Tonkiss, Yiftachel.


Essay (75%, 5000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (25%) in the MT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the first Tuesday of LT.

Attendance at seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 16
Merit 64.2
Pass 18.5
Fail 1.2

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: 26

Average class size 2018/19: 13

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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