GY431      Half Unit
Cities, People and Poverty in the South

This information is for the 2021/22 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 Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environment and Development) (LSE and Peking University), 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 an emphais on the Middle East region), and with particular reference to the survival and well-being of low-income groups. 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; poverty reduction strategies by international organisations; intersectionality; urban informality; urbanisation of violence and conflict; and urban social movements.


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; F Engles, The Condition of the Working Class in England, Oxford, 2009 (1845); S.Parnell and S.Oldfield (Eds), The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, 2014; S Graham, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism, 2011; A Mbembe, Essays on Decolonization: Out of the Dark Night, 2021; T Mitchell, The Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity, 2002; Marx and Kelling, Knowing urban informalities, Urban Studies, 2019, 56, 3; United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Knowledge Platform.


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

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.

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: 31

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Controlled access 2020/21: 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