MSc Environmental Governance

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Sustainable Urban Mobilities

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG70971
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Sustainable urban mobility (SUM) is one of the key environmental governance debates of our time.  It requires broad interdisciplinary appreciation of a number of policy and planning sectors and their economic, environmental and social connectivity. Understanding the challenges of SUM is about much more than the governance of transport systems their infrastructures and externalities, but also how this affects the current and future functioning of cities and livelihoods and wellbeing of their citizens.

This course unit will introduce students to the principles of, and debates surrounding, SUM through a series of expert-led research seminars and interactive workshop sessions. Students will participate in and experience academic ‘research into practice’ topic domains at the cutting edge of SUM governance debates in both global north and global south urban contexts. Lectures will be led by the unit convenor supported by guest experts who are researching or practicing different associated SUM issues (e.g. in SEED, Tyndall Centre, MUI, TfGM and other externals).  The lectures will be supported by student-led discussion seminars overseen by the unit convenor. Supporting seminars will entail short student presentations on aspects of the week’s academic research seminar and subsequent discussion. Students will develop a working understanding of the concepts, theories, methods and debates that cross-cut SUM research, policy and practice. In providing a foundation in, and critical appreciation of, active SUM governance research and practice this module will assist students undertaking dissertation research or pursuing PhD study.

The SUM seminar programme will be circulated at the beginning of each semester though the course unit handbook. 


The unit aims to:

  • Introduce students to the principles and practices of sustainable urban mobilities (SUM) and its interdisciplinary and intersectional challenges in the context of environmental governance.
  • Reflect upon key issues associated with SUM for the economy, environment and society.
  • Explore different case studies to exemplify the challenges of SUM in the context of global north and global south cities and for different urban geographies and demographies.

Teaching and learning methods

In person and online guest lectures through Blackboard. Blog assignment to be completed online.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify the core components of the sustainable urban mobilities debate and its core governance challenges
  • Articulate to academic and lay audiences the ways in which sustainable urban mobilities interact with the economic, environmental and social functioning of contemporary cities and their citizens.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically assess the theories, methods, outcomes and wider significance of sustainable urban mobilities ‘research into practice’
  • Evaluate different approaches to framing and presenting key SUM challenges in different global north and south urban contexts

Practical skills

  • Develop and articulate clear, structured and reasoned arguments in both written and oral contexts
  • Disseminate academic ideas to non-academic audiences through the reflective blog and report writing assignments

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Communicate inter-personally
  • Motivate and self-direct their learning

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Report 30%

Feedback methods

Assessment Task Length How and when feedback is provided Weighting within unit (if relevant)
Blog post reflecting on students’ own positionality on one chosen topic related to SUM covered by the lectures 600 words Submitted in Week 6 with written formative feedback in Week 8.  


Recommended reading

Key readings

  1. Bailey, I. (2006) Book review of Banister, D. (2005) Unsustainable Transport: City Transport in the New Century, Routledge, Abingdon, UK
  2. Lucas, K., Mattioli, G., Verlinghieri, E., and Guzman, A. (2016) ‘Transport poverty and its adverse social consequences’ Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Transport 169:6: 353-365
  3. Porter, G., Hampshire, K., Abane, A., Munthali, A., Robson, E., Tanle, A., Owusu, S., de Lannoy, A., and Bango, A. (2018) Connecting with home, keeping in touch: physical and virtual mobility across stretched families in sub-Saharan Africa, Africa 88:2; 404-424

Indicative wider readings

  1. Adey, P. ‘Mobilites: politics, practices, places’ Chapter 52 in Goodwin, M., Crang, P., Cloke, P. J. (2014) Introducing Human Geographies, Abingdon
  2. Banister, D. (2005) Unsustainable Transport: City Transport in the New Century, Routledge, Abingdon, UK Chapter 1

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 128

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Karen Lucas Unit coordinator

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