GY471      Half Unit
Urban environments and more-than-human cities

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Julia Corwin


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

Students are required to apply through Graduate Course Selection on LSE for You by providing a short written statement (3-4 sentences max) explaining why they are interested in taking the course and any experience they have with similar course topics or theoretical approaches.

If the course is over-subscribed, places will be allocated at the Department’s discretion and a waiting list may be created.

Priority will be given to students on the MSc programmes listed above.

Course content

While cities are often depicted as inanimate and cold, made of concrete and steel, this course examines cities as lively, interconnected spaces. Rather than separating nature from urban spaces, this interdisciplinary course looks at how cities around the world are produced through socio-ecological processes, and how certain forms of nature are produced within the city. Cities depend on and foster diverse forms of life and communities that are often unexamined or remain in the background, yet are integral both for urban life as well as for the functioning of the global economy. Drawing from human geography, science and technology studies (STS), urban political ecology and urban studies, we will study cities as productive, creative and convivial spaces, as well as destructive spaces that can restrict life (both human and non-human). Themes that thread through these topics are questions of power and inequality; cities of the Global South and North and nature in postcolonial cities; the interdependence of life in cities; and the role of cities in both local environments and the global economy. The course will draw from ethnographies and documentaries of nature in the city to explore the complexities of urban natures and intertwined urban lives, with the option of a creative final assessment.


25 hours of seminars in the WT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 project in the WT.

The formative assessment is a flexible assignment with several open-ended options, all designed to help students prepare for their summative assessment. They can provide an outline or proposal for their summative assessment, a discussion of the relevant literature they are exploring, or a similar but shorter version of the assignment applied to a different topic, to practice their critical analysis and research skills. They will receive feedback on their formative assessment that is designed to help support their summative work.

Indicative reading

  • Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw (Eds.). (2006). In the Nature of Cities: Urban political ecology and the politics of urban metabolism. London: Routledge.
  • Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Ginn (2017). Domestic Wild: Memory, Nature and Gardening in Suburbia. London: Routledge.
  • Hetherington, Ed. (2019). Infrastructure, Environment, and Life in the Anthropocene. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Gandy, Matthew. (2005). Cyborg Urbanization: Complexity and Monstrosity in the Contemporary City. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29: 26–49.
  • Barua, Maan. (2021). Infrastructure and Non-Human Life: A Wider Ontology. Progress in Human Geography 45 (6): 1467–89.
  • Liboiron, Max, Manuel Tironi, and Nerea Calvillo. (2018). Toxic Politics: Acting in a Permanently Polluted World. Social Studies of Science 48(3): 331–49.


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

The summative assessment is a final project/portfolio of 5000 words or equivalent with options for creative and multimedia projects (multimedia projects will include a shorter accompanying essay). The assessment will have different options to support student and staff neurodiversity as well as different types of skills that students may want to practice. Potential assessment options include doing their own urban ethnography project or a multi-media project such as a podcast or documentary on an urban environment project in London, with accompanying analysis. Students will be given guidance on the different options and will be assessed primarily on the content rather than the format of the assessment.

Key facts

Department: Geography and Environment

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

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

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