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Unit information: Cities, Housing and Public Policy in 2018/19

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Unit name Cities, Housing and Public Policy
Unit code SPOLM1072
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sweeting
Open unit status Not open

s None



School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will explore the key public policy dimensions of an 'urbanised' world. The first half of the unit will explore the current patterns of urban growth and development on a global scale. This will encompass issues of migration and mobility; competitiveness and uneven development; the impact of information technology and changes in the nature of work and employment on contemporary urbanisation. In the second half of the unit the focus will be on more specific policy issues. This will focus particularly on housing and shelter, transportation and accessibility, urban poverty and inequality; sustainability and environmental policy; new forms of urban governance. Case study material will be used to explore policy issues in a variety of urban settings. Geographically, the unit will draw mainly on examples from Europe and Asia-Pacific but will range more widely as appropriate.


  • to develop understanding of processes of urban governance
  • to explore key issues in contemporary urban policy
  • to elucidate the links between patterns of contemporary urbanisation and broader processes of global economic and institutional change

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the unit a student should:

  • understand and appreciate more fully the wider social, cultural and economic context in which urban policy is framed and eveloped
  • understand the key theoretical debates around patterns of contemporary urbanisation
  • appreciate the particular difficulties and pressures in a number of key policy areas
  • have a wider understanding of the different policy priorities in different national and geographical

Teaching details

The unit will be delivered through a combination of interactive lectures and seminars.

Assessment Details

A 4,000 word essay in which students must demonstrate an understanding of appropriate theoretical debates, be able to locate an analysis of urban policy in its broader social, cultural and economic contexts, and be able to evaluate policy developments comparatively and internationally.

Reading and References

UNCHS (2001) Cities in a Globalizing World London: Earthscan

Thorns, D. (2002) The Transformation of Cities London: Palgrave

Pacione, M. (2001) Urban Geography: a global perspective London: Routledge

Drakakis-Smith, D.W. (2000) Third World Cities 2nd edition London: Routledge

Paddison, R.(Ed.) (2000) The Handbook of Urban Studies London:Sage