PP4A3E      Half Unit
Cities and the Environment: Urban Environmental Transitions

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Philipp Rode FAW.8.01L


This course is compulsory on the Executive MSc in Cities. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

Cities and the Environment explores critical aspects of environmental sustainability in relation to both urbanisation globally and urban change in individual cities. This is an applied course giving students the relevant tools to measure, analyse and assess environmental impact. It introduces debates on different green city paradigms and focuses specifically on approaches to urban climate change mitigation and adaptation. The course further examines implications for urban planning, governance and management. 

Cities and the Environment aims to provide the students with an analytical understanding of environmental challenges linked to urban development. Based on these, students are introduced to planning approaches, policy instruments and governance arrangements enabling environmental sustainability and resilience, facilitating the transition to a green economy in cities.

Topics include: environmental sustainability, green economy, environmental impact assessments, climate change adaptation and mitigation in cities, climate resilience, urban environmental transition, resource consumption, pollution, biodiversity.


The course will be taught via a combination of asynchronous sessions and live sessions, the latter of which can be attended in-person or remotely. A minimum of 10 hours of asynchronous learning materials sessions will be provided ahead of live teaching, which will consist of videos, readings and interactive activities. Approximately 10 hours of live teaching will be provided, consisting of lecture-based discussions, seminars and workshops. These live sessions will build upon the outcomes of the asynchronous sessions. Live teaching will take place over three one-week periods (Modules 2, 3 & 4).

Formative coursework

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

500 word submission detailing the implementation logic of an urban environmental strategy of your choice

Indicative reading

  • GCEC (2014): Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (GCEC). (Chapter 2)
  • Giddens, Anthony (2009): The politics of climate change. Polity. Cambridge; Malden, MA. (Chapter 5)
  • Newman, P., T. Beatley and H. Boyer (2009): Resilient cities: responding to peak oil and climate change. Island Press.
  • OECD (2012): Compact City Policies: A Comparative Assessment. OECD Green Growth Studies.
  • Rode, Philipp (2018). Observations and Actions. Shaping Cities in an Urban Age. R. Burdett and P. Rode, Phaidon Press.
  • Stern, Nicholas (2009): A blueprint for a safer planet: how to manage climate change and create a new era of progress and prosperity. Bodley Head. London. (Chapter 6)
  • UN Habitat (2011): Global Report on Human Settlements 2011: Cities and Climate Change. Nairobi.
  • Urry, John (2011): Climate Change and Society. John Wiley & Sons. (Chapter 10)
  • Wheeler, Stephen Maxwell and Timothy Beatley (2014): The sustainable urban development reader. Routledge

Additional readings:

The Challenge

  • Bicknell, J., D. Dodman and D. Satterthwaite (2012): Adapting Cities to Climate Change: Understanding and Addressing the Development Challenges. Taylor & Francis. (Part 1)
  • Hickman, Robin and David Banister (2014). Transport, Climate Change and the City, Taylor & Francis. (Chapter 1)
  • McGranahan, Gordon, Pedro Jacobi, Jacob Songsore, Charles Surjadi and Marianne Kjellen (2001): The citizens at risk: from urban sanitation to sustainable cities. Earthscan. (Chapter 2)
  • New Scientist (2008). Special report: How our economy is killing the Earth. New Scientist.
  • Newman, Peter (2006): The environmental impact of cities.
  • Stern, Nicholas and Dimitri Zenghelis (2018). Un-locking cities. Shaping Cities in an Urban Age. R. Burdett and P. Rode, Phaidon Press.
  • Sustainable Development Commission (2009). Prosperity without Growth.
  • World Economic Forum (2019). The Global Risks Report 2019.


  • Ahmed, Kulsum and Ernesto Sanchez-Tria (2008). Strategic environmental assessment for policies: an instrument for good governance, The World Bank.
  • Communities and Local Government (2009). Multi-Criteria Analysis: A Manual.
  • Dietz, Simon and Eric Neumayer (2007). "Weak and strong sustainability in the SEEA: Concepts and measurement." Ecological Economics 61(4): 617-626.
  • Dimitriou, Harry T, E John Ward and Marco Dean (2016). "Presenting the case for the application of multi-criteria analysis to mega transport infrastructure project appraisal." Research in Transportation Economics 58: 7-20.
  • Economist Intelligence Unit and Siemens (2012). The Green City Index.
  • Glasson, John and Riki Therivel (2013). Introduction to environmental impact assessment, Routledge.
  • Rode, Philipp, Alexandra Gomes, et al (2017). Resource Urbanisms: Asia’s divergent city models of Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Hong Kong. London LSE Cities. London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Satterthwaite, David (2008): Cities’ contribution to global warming: notes on the allocation of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Science for Environment Policy (2018). Indicators for sustainable cities. In-depth Report 12. Bristol, European Commission DG Environment by the Science Communication Unit
  • SDSN. (2018). "SDG Indicators and a Monitoring Framework."
  • World Bank (2016). The Little Green Data Book.


  • Ahlfeldt, Gabriel and Elisabetta Pietrostefani (2017). Demystifying Compact Urban Growth: Evidence From 300 Studies From Across the World. London and Washington, Coalition for Urban Transitions and OECD
  • Asian Development Bank (2016). GrEEEn Solutions for Livable Cities.
  • Cervero, Robert, Erick Guerra and Stefan Al (2017). Beyond Mobility: Planning Cities for People and Places, Island Press.
  • Crawford, J. and S. Davoudi (2012): Planning for climate change: strategies for mitigation and adaptation for spatial planners. Routledge.
  • Greater London Authority (2018). London Environment Strategy.Gutman, Jeffrey and Adie Tomer (2016). Developing a Common Narrative on Urban Accessibility: Overview. The Brookings Institution.
  • Heck, S., M. Rogers and P. Carroll (2014): Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. (Chapter 3)
  • Raworth, Kate (2017). Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist, Chelsea Green Publishing.
  • Rode, Philipp, Graham Floater, et al (2017). Accessibility in Cities: Transport and Urban Form. Disrupting Mobility: Impacts of Sharing Economy and Innovative Transportation on Cities. G. Meyer and S. Shaheen. Cham, Springer International Publishing: 239-273.
  • UNEP (2011): Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. (Cities Chapter)
  • Urban Task Force (1999). Towards an urban renaissance: Report of the Urban Task Force chaired by Lord Rogers of Riverside, Executive Summary. London, DETR.


  • Centre for London (2019). Green Light: Next Generation Road User Charging for a healthier, more liveable London.
  • Geels, Frank W. (2012). "A socio-technical analysis of Low-Carbon transitions: introducing the multi-level perspective into transport studies." Journal of Transport Geography 24: 471-482.
  • GIZ and ICLEI (2014). Operationalizing the Urban Nexus: Towards resource-efficient and integrated cities and metropolitan regions. GIZ Eschborn
  • ICLEI (2016). GreenClimateCities Handbook for Local Governments.
  • Loorbach, Derk and Jan Rotmans (2010). "The practice of transition management: Examples and lessons from four distinct cases." Futures 42(3): 237-246.
  • RAMSES (2017). Transition Handbook and Training Package. Science for cities in transition.
  • Rode, Philipp, Catarina Heeckt, Nuno da Cruz (2019). National Transport Policy and Cities: Key policy interventions to drive compact and connected urban growth.
  • Rode, Philipp, Graham Floater et al. (2012): Going Green: How cities are leading the next economy. LSE Cities, ICLEI and Global Green Growth Institute. London.
  • Rode, Philipp (2018). Governing Compact Cities: How to connect planning, design and transport, Edward Elgar. (Chapters 2 and 3)
  • Simpson, R. and M. Zimmermann (2012): The Economy of Green Cities. A World Compendium on the Green urban Economy. Springer. New York (Part 1)


Essay (70%, 2000 words) and presentation (30%) in the LT.

Present an environmental strategy for an urban development project (30%) and submission of 2,000 word written report (70%).

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: School of Public Policy

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills