GY441      Half Unit
The Politics of Housing

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Romola Sanyal


This course is available on the MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), 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 as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The aim of this course is to examine the politics of housing from a transnational and comparative perspective. The course will link the empirical analyses on housing to theoretical discussions on class, community, gender, ethnicity and design. It will analyse housing issues ranging from informality, homelessness and gated communities to housing tenure, architectural design and housing as a humanitarian tool. This is an interdisciplinary course, drawing upon debates in fields such as Architecture, Urban Planning, Geography, Sociology, Anthropology and Development Studies. The course will help students develop a broad knowledge of the politics of housing in different countries and how they intersect with issues such as urban development, housing finance and public policy. It will also encourage students to think about housing issues relationally and globally.


Some of the themes covered in this course include: Traditional Housing, Communities, Gender and Housing, Race and Ethnicity and Housing, Homelessness, Housing and Emergencies etc.


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 Lent Term.

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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

One 1500 word essay and 4 one page reading responses

Indicative reading

  • Grewal, I. (1996) Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire and the Cultures of Travel. Durham: Duke University Press
  • Caldeira, Teresa. (2001) City of Walls: Crime, Segregation and Citizenship in Sao Paolo. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Gowan, T. (2010) Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Gottesdiener, L (2013) A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home. Westfield: Zuccotti Park Press
  • Jackson, K. (1985) Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • King, A. (1995) The Bungalow: The Production of a Global Culture, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Smart, A. (2006) The Shek Kip Mei Myth: Squatters, Fires and Colonial Rule in Hong Kong, 1950-1963. Hong Kong University Press.


Essay (80%, 5000 words) in the ST.
Presentation (20%) 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.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 53.1
Merit 39.1
Pass 6.2
Fail 1.6

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: 30

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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