Applied Urban and Real Estate Economics

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Christian Hilber and Prof Gabriel Ahlfeldt


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Real Estate Economics and Finance. This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact and MPhil/PhD in Economic Geography. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The number of students that can be accommodated is limited. If the course is over-subscribed, places will be allocated at the Department’s discretion and a waiting list may be created. For further details, please contact your relevant Programme Coordinator.


The course assumes that students already have knowledge of economics equivalent to a good first degree in the subject. It is available as an option to students who can show that they are suitably qualified.

Course content

This course aims to provide students with a theoretical and empirical understanding of urban economic processes and price determination in land and real property markets within an institutional context. Examples of topics covered include: the functioning of cities and the urban system; the determinants of urban structure; patterns of urban land use; the determinants of urban growth - theory and evidence; land and real property markets; the impact of land market regulation including the economic impact of land use planning; local public finance and house price capitalisation; real estate cycles; homeownership; commercial real estate. The institutional frame of reference within which the course is taught relates mainly to Western Europe and the United States.


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


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


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

Formative coursework

Students can submit up to two essays of up to 1500 words (one per teacher/teaching term). Essay topics are exam questions from a previous year. Submission is voluntary. Upon request, teachers are happy to provide feedback on seminar presentations.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading list will be given out at the beginning of the course. Much of the reading will be journal articles. However, some important items are: J. Brueckner, Lectures on Urban Economics, 2011; P.C. Cheshire & E.S. Mills, Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics Vol. III: Applied Urban Economics, North Holland, 1999; P.C. Cheshire, M. Nathan & H. Overman, Urban Economics and Urban Policy: Challengng Conventional Policy Wisdom, 2014; D. DiPasquale & W. Wheaton, Urban Economics and Real Estate Markets, 1996; M. Fujita, Urban Economic Theory, 1988; E.L. Glaeser, Triumph of the City, 2011; Henderson, J.V. and J.F. Thisse, Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics Vol. IV, North Holland, 2004; J.F. McDonald, Fundamentals of Urban Economics, 1997; J.F. McDonald & D.P. McMillen, Urban Economics and Real Estate, Theory and Policy, 2011; B. O’Flaherty, City Economics, 2005; A. O'Sullivan, Urban Economics (7th edn.), 2009.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.8
Merit 52
Pass 30.4
Fail 4.8

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: 49

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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