SO236      Half Unit
Urban Society

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr David Madden STC.S209


This course is available on the BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

This course is available to students in Year 2 and Year 3.

Course content

This course is an introduction to urban sociology and urban studies. The course is organised around a set of key concepts for developing a critical understanding of urban space today. These key concepts may include terms such as density, inequality, planning, neighbourhood life, public space, migration, infrastructure, displacement, globalisation, urban renewal, gentrification, informality, exclusion, marginality, difference, or social movements. The course will draw on a variety of texts that illuminate and interrogate city life from a variety of sociological perspectives, so in addition to academic studies, students will analyse planning reports, historical documents, first-person literary essays, visual materials, and other representations of the urban experience.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Formative coursework will be due by the start of week 7. It will consist of writing a short 500 word essay asking students to take an original photograph and use it as the basis for a reflection on one of the key concepts explored in class. This reflection will serve to prepare students for their summative essay.

Indicative reading

  • Lewis Mumford, The City in History (New York: Harcourt, 1989 [1961])
  • Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Vintage, 1992 [1961])
  • Arjun Appadurai, “Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing: Notes on Millennial Mumbai,” Public Culture 12: 627-651 (2000)
  • Atkinson, Rowland, and Gary Bridge, eds. Gentrification in a Global Context (New York and London: Routledge, 2004)
  • Sharon Zukin, “Urban lifestyles: diversity and standardisation in spaces of consumption,” Urban Studies 35: 825-839 (1998)
  • Robert Neuwrith, “Squatters and the cities of tomorrow,” CITY 11: 71-80 (2008)
  • Neema Kudva, “The Everyday and the Episodic: The spatial and political impacts of urban informality,” Environment and Planning A 41: 1614-1628 (2009)
  • AbdouMaliq Simone, For the City Yet to Come: Changing African life in four cities (Durham, USA: Duke University Press, 2004)
  • Saskia Sassen, “Cities: A window into larger and smaller worlds.” European Educational Research Journal 11: 1-10 (2012)
  • Suzanne M. Hall, “Migrant urbanisms: Ordinary cities and everyday resistance,” Sociology 49: 853-869 (2015)

These texts are examples of the articles and books from sociology and urban studies that the course will examine. The course will also analyse texts from various other urban-oriented fields and genres.


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (20%, 1500 words) and class participation (10%) in the LT.

There will be three summative assessments: a final exam, a short essay, and participation in seminars.

Final exam at the end of the term: 70%

Short illustrated essay (1500 words) on one of the concepts explored in class, due in week 11: 20%

Seminar participation: 10%

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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