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Unit information: Cities and communities in the urban age in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Cities and communities in the urban age
Unit code SPOL30062
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sweeting
Open unit status Not open




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


Now that the world has entered ‘the urban age’, where for the first time more than half the world lives in cities, this unit examines contemporary issues facing cities and communities within them. The unit will consider contemporary global trends as they impact on urban areas, such as urbanisation, globalisation and climate change, and the capacity of cities to respond to them. More locally embedded processes and trends which are apparent in urban areas and impact on urban communities, such as gentrification, urban inequality and poverty, and policy responses to them, will also be considered. The unit will consider the potential of cities to be ‘sustainable’ and ‘resilient’, analyse how cities are led and are governed, and how citizens and communities might take part in processes of democracy and governance where they live. Underlying the unit are deeper questions related to the nature and distribution of power, and inclusion and exclusion in urban areas.

In national and international contexts, the unit aims are:

  • To introduce students to concepts such as urbanisation, urban resilience, sustainability, and governance;
  • To facilitate an understanding of the processes in the urban context of globalisation, gentrification, regeneration, and local democracy;
  • To consider the capacity of cities to be able to act in response to the challenges with which they are confronted.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will

  • Be able to understand and consider the significance of global and local processes acting upon and within cities
  • Reflect on and analyse the capacity of cities to cope with various urban challenges
  • Explain how cities and communities within them are impacted by and respond to those challenges

Teaching details

Lectures and seminars

Assessment Details

Policy report (1000 words) (25%)

2 hour exam (75%)

Reading and References

Fox, S and Goodfellow, T, (2016) Cities and Development. 2nd Ed. (London: Routledge)

Pierre, J (2011) The politics of urban governance. (Basingstoke: Palgrave)

Hambleton, R. (2015) Leading the inclusive city. (Bristol: Policy Press)

Brenner, N. and Schmid, C. (2014) ‘The urban age in question’. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Vol. 38.3, May, 731-55.

Barber, B. (2012) If mayors rules the world. Dysfunctional nations, rising cities. (Yale University Press)