GY431      Half Unit
Cities, People and Poverty in the South

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Deen Shariff Sharp


This course is available on the MSc in African Development, MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Local Economic Development, MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Experience and/or knowledge of development and/or urbanisation in the South would be a distinct advantage

Course content

The course examines the patterns, processes and implications of urbanisation in developing societies, with particular reference to the survival and well-being of low-income groups, and the variability of urban life and poverty in different geographical contexts. The conceptual and empirical focus of the course revolves around strategies adopted at individual household and community levels to ensure sustainable livelihoods, and the interrelations of grassroots processes with policy interventions on the part of governments, international development agencies and NGOs. Specific themes include: trends in urban development in the 20th and 21st centuries; the conceptualisation and measurement of poverty and the urban; the 'urbanisation' of poverty; the 'feminisation of poverty'; poverty reduction strategies by international organisations; urban livelihood strategies and economic restructuring; urban social movements; participatory urban governance; and civil society.


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


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


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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one formative essay during the course, as well as to prepare seminar presentations (usually in pairs), and to be actively involved in seminar discussions, including as discussants and rapporteurs.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists will be provided during the course.  No one book covers the entire course.  However, recommended essential reading is as follows: N. Brenner (ed), Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization, 2014; S.Chant and C.McIlwaine Cities, Slums and Gender in the Global South, 2016; S.Parnell and S.Oldfield (Eds), The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, 2014; J Elyachar, Markets of Dispossession: NGOs, Economic Development, and the State in Cairo, 2005; T Mitchell, The Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity, 2002; R Rolnik, Urban Warfare: Housing under teh Empire of Finance, 2019; M Dikec, Urban Rage: The Revolt of the Excluded, 2017; United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Knowledge Platform.


Essay (50%, 2500 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 2500 words) in the ST.

Teachers' comment

A course which regularly attracts MSc students from  wide range of Departments across the School with the majority attaining merit or distinction marks

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: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: 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