SO451      Half Unit
Cities by Design

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Dena Qaddumi 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 empire, gender, ‘race’ and class to understand the material, symbolic and experienced conditions of power. We explore interconnections between urban theory and practices of design, drawing on examples of different cities and varied ways of knowing the urban from across the world. We analyse processes of regeneration, inequality, marginalisation and resistance alongside design practices of observation, visualisation and evidencing. 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 AT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in AT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the AT.

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

  • Awan, Nishat, Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till. 2013. Spatial Agency: Other Ways of Doing Architecture (Abingdon: Routledge)
  • Bayat, Asef. 2013. Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East, 3rd edn (Stanford: Stanford University Press)
  • Bhan, Gautam. 2019. “Notes on a Southern Urban Practice,” Environment & Urbanization, 31.2: 639–54
  • Boano, Camillo, and Cristina Bianchetti (eds.) 2022. Lifelines: Politics, Ethics, and the Affective Economy of Inhabiting (Berlin: Jovis)
  • Gilmore, Ruth Wilson. 2022. Abolition Geography: Essays Towards Liberation, ed. by Brenna Bhandar and Alberto Toscano (London and New York: Verso)
  • Hall, Suzanne, and Ricky Burdett (eds.). 2018. The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century City (London: SAGE)
  • Jacobs, Jane M. 1996. Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City (London and New York: Routledge)
  • Kern, Leslie. 2020. Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-made World (London: Verso)
  • Miraftab, Faranak. 2009. “Insurgent Planning: Situating Radical Planning in the Global South,” Planning Theory, 8.1: 32–50
  • Puwar, Nirmal. 2004. Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place (Oxford and New York: Berg)
  • Roy, Ananya. 2011. “Slumdog Cities: Rethinking Subaltern Urbanism,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35.2: 223–38
  • Yiftachel, Oren. 2016. “The Aleph—Jerusalem as Critical Learning,” City, 20.3: 483–94


Essay (75%, 5000 words) in the WT.
Group presentation (25%) in the AT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the first Tuesday of Winter Term.

Attendance at seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2022/23: 33

Average class size 2022/23: 16

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

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