SO451      Half Unit
Cities by Design

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Suzanne Hall STC.S212


This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

SO451 is a capped course and we can only accept 34 students. If you are not registered on the MSc City Design and Social Design please submit an e-mail to Suzanne Hall motivating your inclusion on the course, ONCE you have attended the first introductory lecture where we will be available to respond to individual questions.

Course content

‘Cities by Design’ examines the relationship between built form and practices of city design, and the political, cultural and social dimensions to which they connect. By introducing students to key concepts and practices in spatial analysis and city-making, the course investigates the production of urban space and how the design of our complex urban environments affects the people who live in them. Drawing on architecture and the designed world as key reference points, we engage in the spatial shaping of gender, ‘race’ and class to understand the material and experienced conditions of power. We explore interconnections between urban theory and practices of design, and draw on examples of different cities and varied way of knowing the urban from across the world. We analyse processes of regeneration, inequality and marginalisation, alongside design practices of observation, visualisation, evidencing and resistance. Our weekly seminars incorporate both the analysis of case studies and readings.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in MT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

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

Written feedback is given within two weeks of the essay submission, and in addition a writing seminar is incorporated in the course in preparation for the summative assessed essay.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course. We simultaneously engage with literatures by architects (as a broadly defined practice) and a range of social scientists. These include architects and planners exploring new modes of practice and research, for example: Bhan, Bremner, Chattopadhyay, Davis, Easterling, Hall, Katz, Lokko, King, Kurgan, Mehrotra, Tayob and Weizmann, as well as social scientists exploring design and city space, for example: Baviskar, Caldeira, Datta, Hayden, Holston, Jacobs, Jazeel, Madden, Massey, Mc Kittrick, Roy, Robinson, Scott, Simone, Wilson-Gilmore, Tonkiss, Yiftachel.


Essay (75%, 5000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (25%) in the MT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the first Tuesday of LT.

Attendance at seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19
Merit 70.2
Pass 10.7
Fail 0

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: Sociology

Total students 2019/20: 25

Average class size 2019/20: 8

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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