MSc Environmental Governance

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Global Urban Futures

Course unit fact file
Unit code URBN70032
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


How do we imagine urban futures in the face of mounting social, economic and environmental challenges? What do we do to change current trajectories of development associated with continued and amplified marginalisation, exploitation and destruction? How can we intervene to discontinue the incessant reproduction of inequalities across the global urban and interlinked spatial scales?

This course unit will introduce students to current approaches to the future of cities, including theoretical, technology, policy and artistic research. It will be working with a range of researchers, activists and practitioners around the world who are at the heart of imagining and changing urban futures within their specific context. The focus will be on understanding systems and systems thinking, co-dependencies (humans, more-than/non-humans, etc.) uncertainty and likely trajectories of change.


The unit aims to:

  • provide an overview of current challenges to urban sustainability in different geographical, cultural and political contexts around the world
  • offer a diverse portfolio of options and tools to think about and intervene in the future of cities, ranging from research activism to the use of innovative or yet-to-be-invented technology
  • prepare students for transdisciplinary collaboration in research and practice.

Learning outcomes

Students should/will be able to:

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning will take place through a mix of lectures, student-led seminars and practical exercises.

Lectures will be delivered by the course convener (in person) and guest speakers (in person and online).

Guest speakers will be participating in student-led seminars.

Practical exercises will allow students to apply acquired knowledge (theory, methods) in a real world context (Manchester) and invite them to think through and evaluate applicability in urban contexts elsewhere.

Students will learn in groups and individually.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify and make use of a range of disciplinary approaches to the study of cities as well as typical methods and tools
  • Describe and evaluate the relationship between people and the built and natural environment at the urban scale

Intellectual skills

  • Find, evaluate, synthesise and use information from a variety of sources
  • Analyse and evaluate urban conditions using transdisciplinary methods and tools

Practical skills

  • Identify, evidence and communicate their own role as urban scholars and practitioners
  • Apply theories, approaches, methods and tools in their professional practice
  • Converse and collaborate with future partners from different disciplinary and/or professional backgrounds
  • Express ideas effectively and communicate information appropriately and accurately to academic and non-academic audiences using a range of media

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Apply skills of critical analysis to real world situations within a defined range of contexts
  • Recognise, respect and integrate different perspectives when working as part of a team and/or in collaboration with others
  • Articulate an awareness of the social and community contexts of suggested interventions

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%
Portfolio 35%
Oral assessment/presentation 35%

Feedback methods

  • Verbal feedback from convener following in-class presentations (formative)
  • Summative, via Blackboard 15 days after submission

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 16
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 110

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Deljana Iossifova Unit coordinator

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