GY403      Half Unit
Contemporary Debates in Human Geography

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Murray Low


This course is compulsory on the MPhil/PhD in Human Geography and Urban Studies and MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research). This course is available on the MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), 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 International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies and MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Compulsary for MPhil/PhD Human Geography and Urban students without MSc Human Geography and Urban Studies.

Course content

This is a reading seminar course, organised around key works pertinent to cities, development and human geography. While by no means comprehensive, the syllabus provided in the first week of the course will detail some key debates in geography, urban studies and development studies, which we explore in some detail over the term. The readings will reflect a range of approaches to the disciplines of human geography, urban studies and development studies, in order to convey the dynamic interplay between these three areas of scholarship. Discussions with colleagues in these areas of research, alongside readings of foundational texts, will be aimed at exploring how theory and evidence connect in critical geographical research.


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 interactive lectures across Autumn Term and Winter Term.


This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Autumn Term and Winter Term.

Formative coursework

A 2,500 word essay

Indicative reading

Readings focused on in this course will vary from session to session. A detailed syllabus will be provided at the beginning of the course, but would include works such as T Cresswell (2013) Geographic Thought; D Gregory et al, The Dictionary of Human Geography (5th edn), 2009; D Harvey, Social Justice and the City, 2009; D Harvey, The Enigma of Capital, 2010; N Smith, Uneven Development, 2008; D Massey, Space, Place and Gender, 1994; E Soja, Seeking Spatial Justice, 2010; R Peet and M Watts, Liberation Ecologies, 2004; J Ferguson, The Antipolitics Machine, 1994; T Mitchell, Rule of Experts, 2002; A Roy, Poverty Capital, 2010; and D Gregory and Allan Pred, Violent Geographies, 2006.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 39.5
Merit 55.8
Pass 4.7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Geography and Environment

Total students 2022/23: 11

Average class size 2022/23: 11

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

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
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication