Not available in 2022/23
GY441      Half Unit
The Politics of Housing

This information is for the 2022/23 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.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 47.2
Merit 47.2
Pass 4.2
Fail 1.4

Key facts

Department: Geography and Environment

Total students 2021/22: 30

Average class size 2021/22: 15

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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