Dissertation Unit: You will be expected to conduct a piece of individual research on an appropriate degree topic. The units approach will be flexible and may encompass a range of methods to achieve learning outcomes.
Understanding the Urban
How do we explain, define, conceptualise and understand cities and the urban. Drawing on the interdisciplinary nature of this course, the core module will examine cities in history, this module will explore cities as a sense of time and space, in terms of the built environment, and as posing unique social problems and policy challenges. It will compare and contrast different theories of urbanism, considering whether these offer a plausible explanation of the city development over time, of differences in pace, scale and density of urban development, and differences across parts of the world.
Researching the City
This module is designed to prepare students for undertaking their dissertation, and also for undertaking applied urban research more generally. The module introduces students to a wide range of issues they might encounter when designing social research and presenting findings. The module will also provide students with a broad understanding of alternative solutions to research design challenges; to enable students to select a justifiable design for any social research question; and to be capable of evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their own and others’ research designs.
Likely Optional Units
Evidence, Policy and Evaluation
This module examines how policy is formulated, implemented and evaluated. This includes an understanding the social, economic and political processes that are involved in shaping policy, including the role of interests and of evidence.
This unit focuses on analysis of urban policy (as opposed to analysis for policy). It examines theories and approaches of policy analysis, exploring the main methodological approaches, and aims to give an understanding of key issues involved in urban policy research. It also introduces students to current academic debate around policy mobilities (or policy transfer), and methods for undertaking analysis on the social reproduction of cities.
Urban Governance, Policy and Politics
How are cities governed? This module explores comparatively different forms of public governance in both the developed and developing world, examining issues of power, politics, urban citizenship, urban social movements and other informal governance mechanisms. The module examines how models of urban governance and policy making have developed over time, and how these relate to the relevant policy domain or higher order legislative and governance frameworks. It explores issues of complexity within governance processes, and the challenges of urban governance, which operate within multifaceted political and policy environments. The module addresses the role played by different forms of urban governance in urban economic and physical development.
In this module, students will be introduced to current theoretical and methodological debates on comparative urbanism. In particular, they will engage with relational urbanism, a recent development in urban studies that seeks to break away from the perceived Anglo-American bias within urban studies and move towards theories and methods that are relevant and appropriate to the Global South.
The aim of this module is to provide students with the theoretical and methodological skill sets to creatively and critically analyse urban challenges centred on inequality, sustainability and mobility. The module will introduce students to a range of consolidated specialist programmes capable of taking advantage of advances in open, administrative and big data. Attention will be paid to the ways in which urban analytics can inform spatially and temporally sensitive decision-making. The module will be delivered by a mixture of lectures, practical hand-outs and tutorials. On occasion, international leading scholars will be invited to deliver webinars. The module will provide guidance on the use of mainstream software packages (e.g., GIS and Stata) as well as freeware and open source packages (e.g., semi-parametric GWR and R). The potential of these software packages to support urban analytics will be demonstrated with reference to international case studies focused on transport, crime, health and urban segmentation.
Smart Sustainable Cities
The module will introduce key concepts underpinning the notions of smart cities and sustainable cities. These include the Internet of Things, social innovation, circular economy, resilience, low carbon transitions, and social entrepreneurship. The module recognises that smart cities can be vulnerable to unforeseen events, and that efficient cities may not be resilient ones. It also explores tensions between ‘resilience’ (often associated with preservation of the status quo) and ‘transformation’, referring to more fundamental change in goals, behaviour and infrastructure.