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Unit information: Urbanisation and Global Development in 2015/16

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Unit name Urbanisation and Global Development
Unit code GEOGM0018
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Fox
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


The urbanisation of the human population represents one of the most profound global shifts in human geography in our history. In this course we will explore the origins world urbanisation as well as its socioeconomic, political and environmental consequences at local, regional and global scales. We will investigate the ways in which cities create wealth and concentrate poverty, stimulate progressive political action as well as violence, and help us to overcome environmental insecurity while at the same time generating new environmental vulnerabilities. Finally, we will examine the increasingly pivotal role that urban governments (and urban citizens) play in advancing global development objectives. Along the way, students will be introduced to key concepts, theories and debates in the fields of demography, economic geography, political science, public health, sociology and urban studies.

Intended learning outcomes

  • A scientific understanding of the demographic and economic processes underpinning world urbanisation
  • An ability to critically engage with concepts such as 'poverty' and 'development' and their measurement
  • A comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge with regards to links between urbanisation, socioeconomic development, violence, political change and environmental sustainability
  • A capacity to critically evaluate development policies (at local, national and international levels) designed to stimulate economic growth, promote environmental sustainability and enhance human security.
  • Enhanced presentation skills

Teaching details

Lecture/Seminar with structured discussion and debate.

Assessment Details

30% - Student presentations and topic briefs. Students will work in pairs to develop a short presentation and guided discussion on one of the topics covered in the course (one group presentation per week) and draw on case study material. This will be accompanied by a short (2-page) briefing note to be circulated among classmates.

70% - Essay assignment (4000 words).

Reading and References

Beall, J. and S. Fox (2009) Cities and Development, London: Routledge.

Glaeser, E. (2011) Triumph of the City: How Urban Spaces Make Us Human, London: Pan Macmillan.

Storper, M. (2013) Keys to the City: How Economics, Institutions, Social Interaction, and Politics Shape Development, Princeton University Press.

World Bank (2013) Global Monitoring Report 2013: Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals, Washington D.C.: The World Bank.