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Urban sustainability

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.

Topics covered

  • Introduction to urban sustainability
  • Understanding urban environments
  • Historical approaches to urban development
  • Approaches to urban sustainability
  • Contemporary patterns of urbanisation
  • Urban development and spatial planning
  • Urban infrastructure and development
  • Urban neighbourhoods and communities
  • Urban transportation and mobilities
  • Urban biodiversity and conservation
  • Cities and climate change
  • Cities and water resource management
  • Urban populations, health and disease
  • Cities in the age of sustainable development
  • Radical approaches to urban sustainability.

Learning outcomes

By completing this module, you will be able to:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Assessment

  • a 2 hour written examination worth 60%
  • a critical written assignment worth 40%.