SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Urban Sustainability (30 credits)

Credits:
30 credits

This module provides an overview of the major contemporary issues in urban sustainability, which has increasing relevance for policy, planning and development practice in both the developed and developing world. The module examines definitions, concepts and theories of urban sustainability; it examines the historical emergence and evolution of notions of urban sustainability; and it examines the ways in which urban sustainability can be promoted through policy and planning and in practice.

The themes explored in this module are applied to a variety of sustainability issues, including the tasks of finding appropriate urban responses to the challenges of climate change and persistent - and in some cases widening - health inequalities.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the terminology and discourse of cities, urban geography, urbanisation and urban sustainability
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the historical aspects of urban development and their linkages with the emerging discourse and concerns of environmentalism and concepts of sustainable development
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the major contemporary patterns of urbanisation and urban growth - particularly at the global scale - and their linkages with environmental and sustainability issues
  • demonstrate critical understanding of the ways in which urban sustainability is approached in theory and research, including the main frameworks used to conceptualise these issues
  • demonstrate critical understanding of the major contemporary issues in relation to urban growth, urban development and spatial planning
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the contemporary challenges of urban infrastructure and development; neighbourhoods and communities; and transportation and mobilities
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the complex linkages between urban development and major contemporary environmental issues: biodiversity loss and conservation; climate change; and water resource management
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the complex linkages between urban areas, health and disease, including strategies for promoting both urban population health and sustainable development
  • outline critically the main features and challenges of addressing urban sustainability through the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, including through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • discuss and critically assess some radical perspectives towards urban sustainability

Workload

Students are advised to dedicate 15 - 20 hours study time per week for this module.

Scope and syllabus

The module comprises 15 units:

  1. Introduction to urban sustainability
  2. Understanding urban environments
  3. Historical approaches to urban development
  4. Approaches to urban sustainability
  5. Contemporary patterns of urbanisation
  6. Urban development and spatial planning
  7. Urban infrastructure and development
  8. Urban neighbourhoods and communities
  9. Urban transportation and mobilities
  10. Urban biodiversity and conservation
  11. Cities and climate change
  12. Cities and water resource management
  13. Urban populations, health and disease
  14. Cities in the age of sustainable development
  15. Radical approaches to urban sustainability

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by:

  • a 500-word commentary and critical discussion on a key reading, and assessment of the commentaries of two other students (10%)
  • a 3000-word examined assignment (EA), with an element of online interaction and discussion, worth 40%
  • a two-hour written examination worth 50%.

Since the EA is an element of the formal examination process, please note the following:

  • The EA questions and submission date will be available on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
  • The EA is submitted by uploading it to the VLE.
  • The EA is marked by the module tutor and students will receive a percentage mark and feedback.
  • Answers submitted must be entirely the student’s own work and not a product of collaboration.
  • Plagiarism is a breach of regulations. To ensure compliance with the specific University of London regulations, all students are advised to read the guidelines on referencing the work of other people. For more detailed information, see the FAQ on the VLE.

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules