GY470      Half Unit
Urban Africa

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Claire Mercer CKK 3.20


This course is available on the MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environment and Development) (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Local Economic Development, 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 with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is available to students in other departments and on other programmes where their regulations allow, and if there is space on the course. 

Course content

The course begins with an overview of the ideas and debates shaping current thinking on African cities in theory and policy. We then examine key issues currently facing African cities drawing on contemporary research in human geography, African studies, development studies, urban studies, anthropology, sociology and planning studies. These include: histories, economies, livelihoods, mobilities, planning, land, housing, infrastructures and risks.


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 classes and lectures across Autumn Term.


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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 draft essay plan for the assessed essay in AT.

Indicative reading

de Boeck F and S Baloji (2016) Suturing the city: living together in Congo’s urban worlds, Autograph ABP, London

Diouf M and R Fredericks (eds) (2014) The arts of citizenship in African cities: infrastructures and spaces of belonging, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

Goodfellow, T (2022) Politics and the urban frontier: transformation and divergence in late urbanizing East Africa, OUP, Oxford

Keith, Michael and Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos (eds) (2021) African cities and collaborative futures: urban platforms and metropolitan logistics, Manchester University Press, Manchester

Obeng-Odoom F (2016) Reconstructing urban economies: towards a political economy of the built environment, Zed, London

Myers, Garth A (2016) Urban environments in Africa: a critical analysis of environmental politics, Policy Press, Bristol

Myers G (2011) African cities: alternative visions of urban theory and practice, Zed, London

Parnell S and E Pieterse (eds) (2014) Africa’s urban revolution, Zed, London

Pieterse E and AM Simone (eds) (2013) Rogue urbanism: emergent African cities, Jacana Media with African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town

Quayson A (2014) Oxford Street, Accra: city life and the itineraries of transnationalism, Duke University Press, Durham and London

Robinson J (2006) Ordinary cities: between modernity and development, Routledge, Abingdon

Simone AM (2004) For the city yet to come: changing African life in four cities, Duke University Press, Durham and London


Essay (50%, 2000 words) and coursework (50%, 2000 words) in the WT.

Students will submit an extended essay addressing an issue of urban development in depth in one or two African cities of their choice.


Key facts

Department: Geography and Environment

Total students 2022/23: 27

Average class size 2022/23: 14

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

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
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills