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City Futures (MSc)

This course explores the dimensions of contemporary urbanisation in the context of the challenges and opportunities of contemporary processes of globalisation.

With over 50 percent of the world’s population now living in cities there has been an increasing trend to associate global issues with urban issues. Cities have been seen as the causes of global problems – as sources of pollution and environmental damage; as concentrations of economic polarisation and sharpening social inequalities; as sites of privatised governance and non-democratic control. Alternatively, and increasingly, cities are seen as potential solutions to these global problems – from the benefits of urban density for reducing pollution and supporting sustainable energy regimes, through to sustainable economic transformations to reduce poverty, and as sites of experiments in new urban politics and social movements.

This course explores the dimensions of contemporary urbanisation in the context of the challenges and opportunities of contemporary processes of globalisation. There is an emphasis on analysing, from a theoretical and methodological point of view, the practical aspects of problem-solving in the context of the globalised city and anticipated city futures.

We offer a programme that focuses on the changing nature of cities and urbanisation in a globalising world.  It looks at the major problems and dilemmas of globalised urbanisation – urban growth and its environmental impacts, the role of cities in a globalised economic system; urban mobilities and transport systems; governing cities in a globalising world.

The course is aimed at those aiming to move onto further geographical/urban academic research or a career in a practice/policy environment (public, private, NGO, Third Sector) working on urban problems and solutions (economic, social, environmental) in an international context.   

Distinctive features

  • an interface between academic theory and analysis and more applied strategy, policy and practice on urban problems.
  • the breadth of issues (environmental, social, economic, planning and design) that you can study, as well as the geographical range (Cities of the Global North and South).
  • the opportunity to cover a wide range of urban challenges or to focus on certain substantive fields (such as environmental sustainability and policy; sustainable transport systems; urban planning and design or the study of the economies of cities and regions).
  • staff who work closely with academics and urban professionals worldwide. These collaborations are embedded in the course teaching and materials.
  • encouragement of participatory methods and engagement with a wide range of urban stakeholders.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration1 year

Admissions criteria

Applicants should normally hold a minimum of 2:2 Honours degree in an appropriate subject.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

The Programme lasts a year. You will take taught modules to the value of 120 credits between October and May, taking 60 credits each semester.

On successful completion of the taught component you will complete a dissertation worth 60 credits between June and September.

You will take six taught modules worth 20 credits each. Three of these modules will be core modules. The remaining three will be optional modules.

You will complete a dissertation based on original research. You will be able to specialise in different areas by choosing specific combinations of option modules and by your dissertation topic, if you wish. You will be advised at the start of the programme on the different specialist areas.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Module titleModule codeCredits
DissertationCPT50860 credits
DissertationCPT50860 credits
Planning City FuturesCPT86620 credits
Advancing Urban TheoryCPT91520 credits
Researching Cities for Social ChangeCPT91620 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and computer lab and studio work where relevant.

Lectures take a range of forms but generally provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information.

In seminars you’ll have the opportunity to discuss particular themes or topics, to consolidate and get feedback on your individual learning and to develop skills in oral presentation.

In computer lab and studio work you will have the opportunity to learn various research methods such as GIS, statistics and urban design skills depending on the modules you take.

You will practise and develop intellectual and presentational skills by participating in diverse learning activities, such as, small-group discussions, debates, oral presentations, independent research tasks and written assignments.  You will also enhance your team-working skills.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor who will help you reflect on your performance on the course and advise you on study techniques, Module selection and career planning (in conjunction with the University’s Career Service). They will also provide a first point of contact if you experience any difficulties.

A programme of careers lectures and workshops is delivered within the School

A range of staff are available to provide further support, including a Course Director, Director of Postgraduate Studies, Postgraduate Administrator, specialist IT support and subject librarians. A member of academic staff acts as a designated Disability and Diversity Officer and ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities.

All Modules within the Programme make extensive use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including links to teaching and related materials, reading lists and podcasts, and where you submit and access assessed work


Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment. Formative feedback is embedded into all modules and will be provided continuously throughout the year. More specifically, formative feedback helps you to:

  • improve your understanding of the taught material
  • identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;
  • help staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is feedback that contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a Module or Programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improve. All feedback is directly link to the Module grading / assessment criteria.

How will I be assessed?

You will take six taught modules worth 20 credits each. These will be assessed by a combination of essays, presentations, group work, report writing, debates and computer lab work depending upon the core and option modules selected.  The majority of modules are assessed by two different pieces of work.

Following the taught stage, you will complete a dissertation of no more than 20,000 words.

The classification of your degree is based on two-thirds of the average grade of the taught modules and one-third of the grade of your dissertation.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

Students completing this Programme will demonstrate: an advanced theoretical understanding and empirical appreciation of the key dynamics in contemporary urbanisation and globalisation and the social, economic, environmental problems, opportunities and dilemmas that emerge.

Intellectual Skills:

Students completing the Programme will demonstrate:  an understanding of key urban trends and dynamics from a theoretical, methodological and practical point of view; advanced skills in independent research and analysis (including formulating a critical research agenda); advanced knowledge of quantitative and qualitative methods and associated data management and analysis; critical data appreciation and interpretation.

Professional Practical Skills:

Students completing the Programme will be able to: analyse urban problems and begin to identify potential resolutions or reforms.

Transferable/Key Skills:

Students completing the Programme will demonstrate: the ability to organise, analyse and critically present complex ideas and evidence orally and in written form; the ability to work independently; the ability to work collaboratively in groups.

The course offers knowledge and expertise to enable you to enter a wide range of urban-related careers working in private, public and Third Sector organisations.  These can range from research, policy and implementation professions careers covering elements of the urban challenges offered on the course, including urban environments and sustainability, urban and regional development, transport and housing infrastructures and aspects of planning and design.

The course also enables to further study towards an academic career in geography and urban studies.

Master's Excellence Scholarships

Scholarships available worth £3,000 each for UK/EU students starting a master’s degree in September 2019.

Find out more

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Additional costs

Some of our optional modules include a European field study visit. Should you choose one of these modules, you will need to make a financial contribution towards the costs of the trip. We will contribute 66% of costs to subsidise these trips; in the past, students have needed to contribute around £100 - £150 to the costs.

You should expect to cover the costs of local travel and subsistence on all field study visits.