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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2052 The Making of the Modern City: In Search of Utopia

10 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Alex Schafran

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG2046The Making of the Modern City
GEOG2051The Making of the Modern City: European and Colonial Capital

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module covers changing social conditions and the planning of cities from about 1960 onwards, tracing the key challenges to modern planning, modernism, and rational planning. It examines rebellions against the modernist movement, the rise of neomodernism and the birth of neoliberal urbanism. It integrates this thematic work with specific training in urban research methods.


On completion of this module students should have acquired:
- an understanding of issues and themes in the planning and cultural geographies of cities in the contemporary world, with particular regard to issues of power and social injustice
- an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of modern urban cultural geographies - an understanding of theoretical perspectives on urban development in the 20th century
- detailed knowledge of the character of selected cities, and their place within wider systems
- 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
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 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
The relationship between urban development, power, and ideology

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 1960 onwards and introduces students to the following themes:

Urbanisation and urban redevelopment in a period deindustrialisation and postcolonial fragmentation
Social change in cities in Britain, Europe and selected other parts of the world, including China and North and South America.
The development of ideas and practice in urban planning and the diffusion of planning 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 modernism, and the relationship between challenges to modern planning and the rise of neoliberalism.

Seminars running alongside the lectures will introduce students to relevant literature (including fiction and memoirs) and films that support learning on the module themes. The seminars will be prefaced by lectures that underline module themes and prepare students for the seminars and assessment tasks through guidance on ‘reading’ urban landscapes.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours65.00
Total Contact hours35.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Private study will take the following forms:
1) General reading to prepare for and supplement weekly lectures.
2) Reading to prepare, research and revise for end of semester assessments.
3) Reading of literature for seminar sessions.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The initial small assessment gives them an opportunity to get feedback on their understanding of methods, which they will need for the final project. The seminar and workshops allow for more informal monitoring of progress.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Written WorkMethods exercise - 500 words20.00
ProjectFinal project - 2,000 words80.00
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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