MSc International Development: Environment Climate Change and Development / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Critical Issues in Urban Inequality

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60531
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
Offered by Global Development Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


PART 1: Introduction
1) Introduction: Global overview of economic dimensions and associated concepts, frameworks and approaches
2) Introduction: Global overview of social dimensions and associated concepts, frameworks and approaches
PART 2: Causes, consequences, and manifestations of inequality
3) Settlement: land, services and housing
4) Migration
5) Climate Change
6) Health
7) Water
PART 3: Responses to inequality
8) Individual and household responses: patron-client relationships and the limitations of household agency
9) Institutionalised responses: social movements and an engagement with the political agencies and systems.


The unit aims to examine the key concepts, frameworks, issues and debates in relations to inequalities in Southern towns and cities. In doing so, the course offers:

- An introduction to the concept of inequality and the dimensions through which inequality is realised and experienced.
- An analysis of the causes of inequality in different dimensions and the responses of different agencies and actors to inequality.
- Through a consideration and analysis of responses to inequality, an understanding as to how it might be addressed.

Learning outcomes

Students should be able to:


Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and Tutorials

Knowledge and understanding

  • Students will have a critical understanding of the concept of inequality.
  • Be knowledgeable about trends in urban inequality
  • Be able to describe and analyse urban inequalities
  • Have familiarity with frameworks required to understand different dimensions of inequality
  • Understand key strategies and mechanisms to address inequality, and whether these are successful

Intellectual skills

  • Critical thinking and reflection
  • Evaluation and analysis of different kinds of evidence
  • An ability to assess the merits of contrasting theories, explanations and their policy implications

Practical skills

  • Information handling and organisational skills
  • An ability to develop, articulate and sustain logical, structured and reasoned arguments in written and oral contexts

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Self awareness and an ability to take responsibility for your own learning
  • Time management
  • Confidence in justifying your arguments in front of others

Assessment methods

One essay of 3000 words (100%)

Feedback methods

In addition to in-class interactions there will be an opportunity for feedback on a short half-page formative essay proposal, further feedback on an essay outline prior to detailed summative written feedback on the final assessment, via Blackboard.

Recommended reading

Environment and Urbanization special issue on City Inequality (8:2, 1996)

Mitlin, D. and D. Satterthwaite, 2012, 'Critical issues in urban inequality', in, D. Mitlin and D. Satterthwaite, Urban Poverty in the Global South: Scale and Nature (p214-278).

Shatkin, G 2007 Global Cities of the South: Emerging perspectives on growth and inequality, Cities 24(1)

Stewart, F. (2001) Horizontal Inequalities: a neglected dimension of development. WIDER 2001 Annual Development Lecture

Urban Age (2009) Cities and Social Equity, Detailed report, available from the Urban Age website

Walton, M et al (2008) (eds.) Institutional Pathways to Equity: Addressing Inequality Traps, World Bank, Washington

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 27
Independent study hours
Independent study 123

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Seth Schindler Unit coordinator

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