MPlan Planning

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Future Cities

Course unit fact file
Unit code PLAN44021
Credit rating 15
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Each and every day there are an estimated 193,107 new urban dwellers (UN-Habitat 2009). This is equivalent to a city larger than the size of Dallas every week, the population of Rio de Janeiro just over every month or a new Russia every two years. Across the globe, the city has been overwhelmingly selected as the habitat of choice for humanity and has consequently become the nexus for an array of physical, economic, social, political and cultural capital.  So, by the middle of the twenty first century three in four of us will live in cities.  We are living in the urban age, but this is actually more than just about cities, it is about how a mode of organizing space and society is shaping the world in which almost all of us live.  Those great cities of the twentieth century – Paris, London and others – continue to grow in size, slowly but surely.  However, some of the most important changes are happening elsewhere in the world-Delhi, Karachi, Mumbai, Shanghai, São Paulo; these cities are where the action is, where population growth rates are the highest, and where the issues of producing and managing ecological, economically, and socially sustainable cities are at the most pressing.

One drawback of this concentration of people and resources has been that threats to urban citizens are amplified, and whilst cities are commonly seen as places of safety, incongruously they are also the hub of modern risks. Of course, cities are not just problems that need solutions.  Cities have always been sources of cultural creativity, conviviality, diversity, and transnational inter-connections.  And so they continue to be sources of inspiration as well as perspiration.

In this light, the course will introduce students to the challenges currently facing cities and to some of the ways academics have sought to make sense of them and policy-makers have sort to overcome them.


The unit aims to:

1. To explore the emergence of the ‘urban age’, where the majority of humans have come to reside in urban settings of one sort or another;

2. To consider the cultural, environmental, financial, planning, political, social and technological challenges posed to societies of a growing number of their citizens residing in cities;

3. To discuss and evaluate the various methods that are used to study and influence the cities of the future; and,

4. To consider and debate the theoretical and policy implications of the ‘urban age’.


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%

Blackboard based MCQ

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kevin Ward Unit coordinator
Richard Kingston Unit coordinator

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