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Unit information: Cities and communities in the urban age in 2021/22

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

Teaching will comprise blended learning involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including weekly lectures delivered through narrated power point presentations, study group sessions, and self-directed learning exercises.

Assessment Details

Policy brief (1000 words) (25%)

Essay (2000 words) (75%)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOL30062).