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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG3085 Contested Cities

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Sara Gonzalez

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Module replaces

GEOG3021 European Cities and GEOG3800 World Cities

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module is an exploration into the contested nature of cities across the world. Contemporary urban processes are not just the result of government policies but a much more complex and dynamic process of power, conflict and contestation implicating different actors in society. The module will teach students how to critically evaluate urban projects many of which are seen as beneficial for the community but which actually engender urban injustices. We will draw on examples from around the world to show how communities are struggling for better cities and connect these to issues in our own cities. Finally the module will also teach students skills about how to communicate research outside the university.


By the end of this module students who have engaged well with the syllabus should be able to:
- understand the contested nature of urban development in the world today where a myriad of actors influence the shaping of our cities
- develop critical skills to analyse and evaluate urban development projects from housing regeneration to mega-events like the Olympic Games
- relate theoretical debates in critical urban theory to urban struggles on the ground
- develop research and communication skills to potentially impact on urban development processes
- produce accessible critical material for a wide audience.

Learning outcomes
- A critical understanding and analysis of the main trends shaping our cities today
- A familiarity with current global debates in urban studies
- A recognition of the contested nature of our cities today and the variety of actors and strategies influencing them
- An ability to understand and identify the roots and manifestations of urban injustice
- An appreciation of the global and interconnected nature of urban processes
- The development of skills towards being a responsible citizen in your own urban environment
- To learn the about the impact of academic research in communities and policy making circles.

Skills outcomes
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

Practical/professional skills
Plan, design, execute and report geographical research
Collect, interpret and synthesise different types of qualitative geographical data
Recognise the ethical, political and environmental issues involved in geographical debates and enquiries

Key skills
Learn in familiar and unfamiliar situations
Communicate effectively (in writing, verbally and through graphical presentations) for diverse audiences
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.


Understanding the contested city
Main trends in urban development today
Introducing critical urban theory
What is neoliberalism and how does it manifest in cities?
Focus on neoliberal urban projects and policies: mega projects, regeneration, gentrification, privatisation of public space, the local state
Evaluating urban projects critically

Exploring the contested city: contemporary urban movements and struggles
Cities as sites for social conflict over the use and control of urban space
What are urban social movements how have they evolved in the recent decades?
Recent urban protest movements from around the world

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours166.00
Total Contact hours34.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

2X26= 52 hours reading to support individual lectures and to prepare for seminars and pass to progress reading summaries
30 hours reading, bibliographical research and preparation for critical report
50 hours reading, bibliographical research and preparation for essay
20 hours reading, research, fieldwork and preparation for group work

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Through seminar discussions staff will be able to gauge the general understanding of the main concepts discussed in this module and assess progress over the 2 semesters.
Through a critical report that will assess the students ability to incorporate academic work into a critical evaluation by mixing also different types of data and evidence.
Through a research-led essay that will assess the capacity to link knowledge and processes across different scales and realms.
There will be dedicated preparatory and feedback sessions for all two assignments and staff will be available in office hours for any consultation.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words essay60.00
Report2,500 word critical report40.00
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: 30/04/2019


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