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Unit information: Sustainability, Risk and Resilience in the Urban Age in 2020/21

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Unit name Sustainability, Risk and Resilience in the Urban Age
Unit code GEOGM0037
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Fox
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


For the first time in human history more people around the world live in towns and cities than in rural areas. By 2050 roughly 70% of the world population will live in urban areas, and by the end of this century our species is very likely to be fully urbanised. This global urban transformation has profound implications in terms of achieving sustainable modes of living, minimising risk from environmental hazards and promoting resilience. Indeed, cities and city-regions are increasingly recognised as pivotal arenas for intervention to solve both local and global challenges.

In this unit we will explore the origins of the global urban transition; critically interrogate the concepts of sustainability, risk and resilience; dissect urban ecosystems; and review a wide range of planning approaches, policies, technologies and special initiatives designed to achieve sustainability and resilience in the urban age.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit, students will:

1) Demonstrate understanding of the diverse and shifting demographic and economic processes underpinning world urbanisation;

2) Have a critical understanding of and be able to apply key concepts underpinning the discourses of sustainability & resilience;

3) Be able to describe and assess the significance urban ecosystem dynamics;

4) Have knowledge of diverse policies, technologies and initiatives for urban sustainability & resilience.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace

Assessment Details

1000-word Topic brief (30%)

4000-word Essay assignment (70%)

Both assessments will assess all the ILOs.

Reading and References


Elmqvist et al (2018) Urban Planet: Knowledge Towards Sustainable Cities, Cambridge University Press.

Fox, S. & Goodfellow, T. (2016) Cities and Development, Routledge.

Wheeler, S.M. & Beatley, T. (2014) The Sustainable Urban Development Reader, Routledge.