International Urban Challenges URBAN5090

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The global urban system poses many challenges: in the global North, many cities face physical decay, economic instability, and inequality; in the global South urbanisation has consumed large quantity of valuable land and other resources, destroyed traditional communities, and created huge gaps between rich and poor. This course examines global urban challenges through in-depth thematic and regional case studies to help students to gain in-depth understanding of contemporary urban issues.


Classes to run in Semester 2 and delivered in 3 hourly blocks, once per week, over 9 consecutive weeks to allow student sufficient time to find, read and digest reading materials.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements:


Excluded Courses






This course will be formally assessed by means of an essay (maximum of 4,000 words in length).

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to provide students an in-depth knowledge of contemporary international urban challenges. The course begins with a thematic consideration of some of the key contemporary urban issues before then exploring more regionally specific or paradigmatic issues through particular city case studies. This course aims for an advanced and focused analysis of contemporary urban issues based on the knowledge students gain from the Sustainable Urban Futures course.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ identify and discuss various contemporary urban challenges at the global and regional levels;

■ demonstrate a sound understanding of the current urban problems faced by city dwellers and different professions in urban management;

■ critically assess a range of policies and approaches developed by global and national organisations in dealing with these challenges;

■ identify, define an debate key urban issues for research;

■ acknowledge values underlying interpretations of sustainability, and reflect on the contested nature of the concepts of economic, social and sustainable development and explore the implications for, spatial planning and urban management at the international level;

■ demonstrate a critical appreciation of the relationships between social, economic and environmental dimensions (including climate change), and how these change over time; and

■ debate and analysis alternative solutions to urban challenges that exist.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.


Minimum requirement for award of credit for students on MSc City Planning is D3 or above.


University standard regulations apply to students on other qualifications.