SO477      Half Unit
Urban Social Theory

This information is for the 2019/20 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.

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.

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) in the LT.
Memo (10%) and class participation (10%) in the MT.

There will be weekly memos submitted via Moodle the evening before each class session during the MT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the second Thursday of Lent Term.

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

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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