Skip to main content

Study information

Global Urban Futures

Module titleGlobal Urban Futures
Module codeGEO2132
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Federico Caprotti (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module introduces interdisciplinary social science approaches to understanding urbanisation processes. It considers the significance of urbanisation for a range of contemporary geographical issues, from environmental change to socio-economic inequality; and the responses to those issues, from activism to policy-making. It provides a framework for critical analysis of the claims about and consequences of so-called “planetary urbanisation”. The module introduces key traditions of urban social thought including: explanatory theories of urban development; interpretative theories of urban social and cultural life; and action-oriented theories of urban politics, planning, and policy. It addresses key methodological issues concerning the status of contextual understanding, comparative analysis, and case-study analysis. Furthermore it will address a set of traditional and new urban issues, including cities and climate change; urban economies; digital cities; healthy cities and urban food security; and urban social movements.

The module assessment strategy is designed to enable you to select and develop a focussed engagement with specific approaches and issues of interest to you.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to give you a thorough understanding of contemporary social science approaches to urban issues. The module will

  • introduce various theoretical traditions for understanding cities and urban processes
  • introduce issues of geographical reasoning associated with urban social science
  • introduce issues that are traditionally or newly understood as having urban causes, conditions, or resolutions
  • provide a framework for engaging critically with contemporary urban issues by selecting and applying specific analytical approaches
  • provide a framework for critically analysing why urban processes are often seen as both the cause and solution to so many issues.

The module involves in-depth workshops and class debates that seek to develop the following graduate attributes:

  • confidence in assessing the robustness of social scientific evidence and in presenting textual and audio-visual material in a new media format
  • problem solving through interdisciplinary reasoning and analysis of issues-based urban case studies and urban policies at different scales
  • articulating social scientific concepts and evidence with confidence through enquiry-led research on assessed blog topic; including providing peer feedback on topics during class time
  • being an effective team member in formative workshop-based paired discussions

The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on urban social theory (Barnett), cities in the Global South (Barnett), smart cities (Caprotti) and eco-cities (Caprotti).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss key theoretical traditions of urban social science
  • 2. Describe the problems of geographical reasoning associated with the analysis of urban processes
  • 3. Explain the problematisation of contemporary urban issues
  • 4. Apply theoretical and methodological ideas to the analysis of selected issues

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Illustrate and discuss the contested and provisional nature of knowledge
  • 6. Identify a range of approaches to the generation, analysis, and application of knowledge
  • 7. Identify and investigate selected issues in human geography research

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Develop a sustained and reasoned argument
  • 9. Identify, acquire, analyse and synthesise information from a range of sources
  • 10. Work independently to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • 11. Work as a participant and leader of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of objectives

Syllabus plan

Indicative structure (topics may vary)

Part 1: Social Theory in the City

  • Introduction: urbanisation, urbanism and public space
  • Key themes in urban futures research

Part 2: Emergent Urban Issues

  • Global urban policy mobilities
  • The city in the Global South
  • The Chinese city and formative blog workshop
  • Environmental crisis and eco-urban futures
  • Smart urbanism
  • Alternative urban futures

Part 3: Wrapping up: Putting Urban Futures into Context

  • Urban futures: back to theory
  • Urban futures and city politics and formative assessment workshop: exam preparation

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching16Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Workshops
Guided Independent Study15Out-of-class web-based exercises
Guided Independent StudyGuided Independent Study45Weekly reading
Guided Independent Study38Blog preparation and writing
Guided Independent Study30Exam preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class group discussion + blog post outline1 hour1-3, 5-6, 11Oral and written
In-class group discussion and draft exam answer structure1 hourAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Blog501500 words1-10Written
Examination502 hours1-10Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
BlogBlog1-10August ref/def
ExaminationExamination1-10August ref/def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination or submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bridge, G. and Watson, S. (eds.). 2010. The Blackwell City Reader (2nd Edition).
  • LeGates, R. and Stout, F. (eds). 2011. The City Reader. Routledge.
  • Tonkiss, F. 2013. Cities by Design: The Social Life of Urban Form. Polity Press.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Cities, human geography, space, urban theory, social theory, space, urban issues, urban policy, urban politics, urban and regional studies, urbanisation

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date