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TCP2028 : Understanding Cities

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Stephen Graham
  • Lecturer: Dr Georgiana Varna, Professor Jeremy Crampton, Professor Rose Gilroy, Dr Andrew Law
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To build critical, social-scientific understanding of contemporary cities and processes of urban change.
•       To give students an understanding of the key debates in contemporary urban theory.
•       To link theoretical debates, processes of urban change, and urban policy and planning debates using specific case studies and examples.

This module uses a range of teaching styles – lectures, videos and discussions – to present a cutting-edge and critical introduction to the understanding of contemporary cities. The course addresses a wide range of types of cities; ’global’ cities such as London; postindustrial cities such as Newcastle; and Global South mega-cities such as Mumbai. Using the latest insights from a wide range of social-scientific research on urban change to address this wide range of examples, the module will allow students to gain insights into contemporary urban theory. It will use these to build an understanding of how contemporary cities are changing and how these changes raise major challenges for urban planning and policy making.

Outline Of Syllabus

1 Introduction: 21st Century Urbanisms [Graham]
2 Cities Under Siege [Graham]
3 The Vertical City [Graham]
4 Smart Cities, Automation and AI [Crampton]
5 The City and Culture [Law]
6 The Ageing City [Gilroy]
7 People make cities: Tactical Urbanism [Varna]
8 AlphaCity – London and the Super rich [Graham]
9 Neoreactionary Urban Imaginaries – Cities and the alt-right [Graham]

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Reading and research specifically focussed on assessment preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading166:0066:00Reading and learning as set out within the lectures and developed in the workshop discussions and
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading94:0036:00Non -synchronous viewing of online video materials with some contextual reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops92:0018:00A weekly synchronous online zoom group discussion based around a key reading, the film screening and
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk202:0040:00Synchronous scheduled in person lectures
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Weekly lecture material, followed by viewing of a film with contextual reading linked to topic, followed by online discussion of material led by co-module leaders. Structured readings supplied each week. Online support for preparation of assessments.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M803000-word max. One essay selected from 9 questions. Essay will be focused on selected topic but must also draw upon material elsewhe
Report2M201000-word max. Critical review of one of 9 selected academic articles. The article must not be on a topic selected for the essay.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessed essay will be designed to assess student’s ability to connect theoretical, empirical and policy-relevant material. It will be focussed on one topic but must also draw upon material presented across the course.

Reading Lists