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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG3085 Contested Cities

20 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Dr Sara Gonzalez

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

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 understand current trends in cities such as gentrification, financialisation or touristification and in what ways they lead to urban injustices. In particular, the module focuses on how individuals, community groups and urban social movements organise against the injustices that emerge in cities. We will draw on examples from around the world from anti-eviction movements in Spain and Brazil, to the Hong Kong protests or housing campaigns in London.


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 understand urban policies from housing regeneration to mega-events like the Olympic Games
- relate theoretical debates in critical urban theory to urban struggles on the ground
- Appreciate the role of urban movements and grassroots community groups in the shaping of cities and urban policy

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

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
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

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 hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

-4X30= 120 hours reading, watching and listening to online resources, to support individual lectures and to prepare for seminars
-50 hours reading, bibliographical research and preparation for essay

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.
Through interactive activities with staff and peers where students will be able to gauge their progress.
There will be dedicated preparatory and sessions for the essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words essay100.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:56:06


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