GY210      Half Unit
The Economics of Cities

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Vernon Henderson STC.S506b


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available on the BA in Geography, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Economics, BSc in Environment and Development and BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Economics A (EC100) or Economics B (EC102). ST107 (or equivalent course in statistics) strongly recommended.

Course content

Urban economics is concerned with the spatial form of cities and the division of national economic activity into cities, both at a point in time and over time.  Three fundamental questions are: (1) Why are economic activities within a country so unequally distributed across space? (2) Why do cities (and more broadly agglomeration of firms and workers) emerge and in what locations? (3) Why are economic activities within cities unequally distributed in general and between areas near the city centre and those near or in the suburbs? 

The main topics covered include:

Why do cities exist and why do firms cluster? Diseconomies in cities: Urban location, land rents, and land use patterns? What determines equilibrium city size and features of the urban system? City growth, location, and spatial transformation Land use regulation.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to prepare for group discussion of some readings and hand in short essays or problem sets.

Indicative reading


Exam (50%, duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Essay (20%, 1000 words) and problem sets (30%) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2018/19: 39

Average class size 2018/19: 13

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills