GY311      Half Unit
The Political Economy of Urbanisation

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Callum Ward


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 a diverse range of cities across the world, providing 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.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
First 41.8
2:1 31.3
2:2 23.9
Third 3
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 17

Average class size 2020/21: 9

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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