GY311      Half Unit
The Political Economy of Urbanisation

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jayaraj Sundaresan STC3.04


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

Course content

This course covers theories and processes of contemporary urban development from a critical political economy perspective, addressing urban problems and policy responses in our rapidly urbanizing world. The course examines what urbanisation means to the state, to (global/domestic) businesses, and ordinary citizens, focusing on a selected set of key themes that are pertinent to the understanding of urban injustice. Such themes include, but not limited to, the understanding of the (social) production of unequal urban space, global circulations of urbanism, gentrification, displacement and dispossession. Case studies are largely drawn from cities in the majority world, especially East and Southeast Asia, which provide opportunities for students to contest urban theories that have largely been rooted in the experiences of the advanced economies.


In the Department of Geography and Environment, teaching will be delivered through a combination of classes/seminars, pre-recorded lectures, live online lectures and other supplementary interactive live activities.

This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures across Michaelmas Term.


This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one formative essay outline in the Michaelmas Term.

Indicative reading

  • Harvey, D. (1989) The Urban Experience. Johns Hopkins University Press;
  • Wu, F. (2015) Planning for Growth: Urban and Regional Planning in China. Routledge;
  • Park, B-G. et al. (Eds.) (2012) Locating Neoliberalism in East Asia. Wiley-Blackwell;
  • Labbé, D. (2014) Land Politics and Livelihoods on the Margins of Hanoi, 1920-2010. UBC Press;
  • Lees, L., Shin, HB and López-Morales, E. (Eds.) (2015) Global Gentrifications: Uneven Development and Displacement. Policy Press;
  • Lees, L., Shin, HB and López-Morales, E. (2016) Planetary Gentrification. Polity Press;
  • Mathews, G. (2011) Ghetto at hte Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong, The University of Chicago Press;
  • Shao, Q. (2013) Shanghai Gone: Domicide and Defiance in a Chinese Megacity. Rowman & Littlefield


Coursework (90%, 3000 words) and continuous assessment (10%) in the MT.

Continuous assessment refers to class participation.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2019/20: 25

Average class size 2019/20: 26

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication