SO451      Half Unit
Cities by Design

This information is for the 2021/22 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.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). For students who are not registered on the MSc City Design and Social Design programme, places will be allocated based on a written statement.  Priority will be given to students on the MSc in City Design and Social Science and MSc in Sociology. This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course

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.

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 20.5
Merit 70.5
Pass 9
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: Sociology

Total students 2020/21: 25

Average class size 2020/21: 12

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
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills