MSc Global Urban Development and Planning

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Urban Development Planning in Cities of the South: an international perspective

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN72061
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? Yes


  • Introduction to urban development planning in cities of the global South
  • Historical and theoretical perspectives on planning in the global South
  • Conceptions of the urban informal economy
  • Urban management and decentralised governance
  • Planning for urban land tenure in the context of informality
  • Planning for housing improvements in urban poor areas
  • Urban transport challenges in rapidly motorizing countries
  • Interactions between planners and urban indigenous groups
  • Planning for climate change impacts


  • To critically examine urban planning approaches and methodologies used in the global South, which are (or in some cases are not) conducive to achieving equitable and sustainable urban development and poverty reduction in this context.
  • To understand key issues influencing the development of planning practice in global Southern cities, including historical and theoretical perspectives; and to explore fundamental phenomena shaping urban development planning in the global South today, namely the urban informal economy, and decentralised governance.
  • To explore key elements of urban provision that planning in this context must address – namely secure urban land tenure, housing improvements, urban infrastructure, and public space – and to understand the impacts of disaster risk and climate change as issues that are of increasing concern to planners.
  • To draw on different examples of real-world urban planning practice, including formal policy-led approaches and more community-focused ones, to analyse their success in addressing key urban issues in the context of urban informality.

Teaching and learning methods

Learning will be through nine two-hour lectures, three tutorials of up to two hours, and a dedicated seminar for group presentations. Students are encouraged to develop their own theoretical understanding through guided individual reading and private study as well as through group tutorial interactions and group work in support of presentations.

Knowledge and understanding

Have a critical understanding of the contemporary discourses and practices of urban development planning in the context of cities of the South

Intellectual skills

Be able to apply their knowledge of frameworks for the analysis of urban development planning in cities of the South

Practical skills

Have an understanding of practical cases in which planning is conducive to poverty reduction and inclusive, equitable and sustainable cities

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Have engaged in project work both independently and in collaboration with peers

Assessment methods

Group presentation (15 minutes): 25%

Individual essay (3000 words): 75%

Feedback methods

Summative feedback for group presentation and individual essay. Verbal feedback will be given in discussions during lectures, tutorials and presentation sessions.


Recommended reading

Beall, J. and Fox, S. (2009) Cities and Development. Abingdon, Routledge.
Bicknell, J., Dodman, D. et al. (2009) Adapting Cities to Climate Change: Understanding and Addressing the Development Challenges. London: Earthscan.
Brenner, N. 2013. ‘Thesis on Urbanization.’ Public Culture 69(1): 85-114.
Buckley, R and J. Kalarickal (2006) (eds) Thirty Years of World Bank Shelter Lending: what have we learned? World Bank: Washington DC.
Cheema, G.S. and  Rondinelli, D.A. (eds.) (2007) Decentralizing Governance: Emerging  Concepts and Practices. Washington DC: Brookings Institution.
Evans B. (2007) Understanding the Urban Poor’s Vulnerabilities in Sanitation and Water Supply.
Centre for Sustainable Urban Development.
Mitlin, D. and Satterthwaite, D. (2013) Urban poverty in the global South: Scale and nature.
Earthscan, London.
Moser, C.; Norton,A.; Stein, A. and Georgieva,S. (2010). Pro-Poor Adaptation to Climate Change in Urban Centers: Case Studies of vulnerability and Resilience in Kenya and Nicaragua. Washington D.C: World Bank.
Roy, A. and Alsayyad, N. (2004) Urban informality: Transnational perspectives from the Middle
East, Latin America and South Asia. Oxford, Lexington Books.
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2013) Planning and Design for Sustainable Urban Mobility: Global Report on Human Settlements, UN-Habitat.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Seminars 2
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 124

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alfredo Stein Heinemann Unit coordinator

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