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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2046 The Making of the Modern City

20 creditsClass Size: 82

Module manager: Dr Alex Schafran

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG2051The Making of the Modern City: European and Colonial Capital
GEOG2052The Making of the Modern City: In Search of Utopia

Module replaces

GEOG2045 Modern Urban Journeys

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module covers changing social conditions and the planning of cities in the 'modern' world, here taken as the period from about 1850 onwards. The origins and development of modern urban planning are considered with special emphasis placed on their growing complexity and diversity in the 20th century. The social disruptions and energies created by growing urban populations are discussed, as are attempts by the state to shape the directions of urban change. The worldwide diffusion of European planning practices is examined, as well as its impact on local populations. Literary and artistic work is consulted to contribute to a sense of the impact and immediacy of urban change around the world. In semester 2, students are trained in depth on key urban research methods and examine the challenges to and failures of modernist planning and the rise of neomodernism, neoliberalism and postmodern urbanism.


On completion of this module students should have acquired:
i) an understanding of issues and themes in the planning and development of cities in the modern world (ca 1850 onwards), with particular regard to issues of power, social injustice and modernist planning and development
ii) an appreciation of how modern urban geographies were produced, and why
iii) an appreciation of how literary and visual representations have influenced urban development in the modern period, and an understanding of the idea of modern and modernity
iv) an understanding of theoretical perspectives on urban planning and development in the modern world
v) detailed knowledge of the character of selected cities, and their place within wider systems. This includes Asian, Latin American, Eastern European, Western European and North American cities
vi) skills in the identification and acquisition of literature and other sources, and knowledge of selected techniques of information retrieval, analysis and presentation in oral and written formats.
vii) skills in key urban research methodologies, including participant observation, visual methods, and discourse analysis
viii) an understanding of the challenges to and failures of modernist planning, and the emergence of postmodern urbanization, neoliberal urbanism, and neomodern planning

Learning outcomes
Knowledge and Understanding Spatial patterns and relationships in human phenomena at a variety of scales
The relationship between urban development, power, and ideology
The geography of places and their constitution by environmental, economic, social and political processes, and the influence of places on these processes
The geographies of difference and inequality with particular reference to historical development, ethnicity, class, gender and the changing nature of urban and regional economies and policy
The role of changes in technology, the nature of work and labour markets in influencing spatial patterns of economic activity

Skills outcomes
Research and analytical methods such as: Discourse Analysis, participant observation, visual methods.

Cognitive skills
Abstraction and synthesis of information from a variety of sources
Assessment and critical evaluation of the merits of contrasting theories, explanations, policies
Critical analysis and interpretation of data and text
Developing reasoned arguments
Solving problems and making reasoned decisions

Practical/professional skills
Plan, design, execute and report geographical research both individually and as part of a team
Collect, interpret and synthesise different types of quantitative and qualitative geographical data
Recognise the ethical issues involved in geographical debates and enquiries

Key skills
Learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations
Communicate effectively (in writing, verbally and through graphical presentations)
Use information technology effectively (including use of spreadsheet, database and word processing programmes; Internet and e-mail)
Identify, retrieve, sort and exchange geographical information using a wide range of sources
Work as part of a team and to recognise and respect the viewpoints of others
Manage time and organise work effectively.


The module concentrates on the period from approximately 1850 onwards, and introduces students to the following themes:
Urbanisation and urban redevelopment in periods of industrialisation and colonial expansion.
Urbanization and urban redevelopment in periods of deindustrialization and post-colonial fragmentation
Social change in cities in Britain, Europe and selected other parts of the world, including East Asia. Eastern Europe and North and South America.
The development of ideas and practice in urban planning and modern architecture and the diffusion of planning and architectural practice around the world.
Challenges to and failures of modernism, rational planning and postwar urbanism.
Knowledge of an understanding of the rise of postmodern perspectives on urbanization, neomodern planning, grassroots reactions against

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours132.00
Total Contact hours68.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study will take four forms:
1) General reading to prepare for and supplement weekly lectures.
2) Reading to prepare, research and revise for assessments.
3) Field work to take photograph and prepare additional material for photo and commentary assessment in semester 1.
4) Reading of literature for seminar sessions, completion of seminar reviews.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students’ progress is monitored in semester 1 through an essay in week 12. Semester 2 revolves around methods, with an initial assessment to familiarize them with the methods and to allow them feedback, followed by a more significant project for week 25. The seminar and workshops allow for more informal monitoring of progress.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words50.00
Written WorkMethods exercise - 500 words10.00
ProjectFinal project - 2000 words40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2018


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