KE6024 - Critical Urban Geographies

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about the processes and practices shaping urban worlds and the ways in which these are socially and spatially differentiated, revealing the diversity of lived experiences in cities across the world as well as different theoretical histories. You will learn the unique contribution geographers have made to our understanding of cities, everyday life in the city, and to think critically about urbanisation, in particular, to critique and challenge the dominance of neoliberal representations of the city. We will explore how processes of governance b/order urban space and the ways in which these are negotiated and contested. Key themes in the module will include cities and modernity; consumption, consumer culture and urban space; urban geopolitics; urban commons, debates around public space and the “right to the city”. Through field work in and around Newcastle, you will also learn to undertake participant observation, keep a fieldwork diary and analyse in-depth, ethnographic data.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars, short field trips, independent learning and directed tasks (such as using study groups to lead seminars). The lectures will cover theories and concepts, case study material, key exemplars, and module staff’s own research. Where appropriate guest lecturers will be invited to provide insights into critical urban geographies. Seminars are designed to allow you to explore issues raised in lectures, readings and other materials, e.g. documentary film and media in greater depth. Directed and independent learning tasks will be suggested each week to allow you to explore the module material in your own way. All your learning will be supported through resources made available on the module ELP.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported academically by a comprehensive module handbook outlining key dates, all seminar worksheets and assignment briefs for the academic year, plus key books and journals to help you plan your learning and time. You will be given directed reading from each lecture via an electronic reading list, while other learning resources, such as links to government or public-policy reports and documentary films will be added to the eLP throughout the course. You will receive tailored written feedback on the written assignments.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:

The module will be supported by an electronic reading list which is organised by lecture. This will include a mixture of books, chapters and journal articles. Key literature will be summarised in the lectures but you will be expected to read on a weekly basis, to prepare you for both the field trips and module assignments.

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1) You will demonstrate a critical understanding of the diversity of processes and practices shaping urban worlds;
2) You will critically examine the ways in which urban spaces are being produced, governed, experienced, contested and transformed through everyday practices.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3) You will critically apply theories and concepts covered in the module to analyse real world case studies.
4) You will demonstrate critical reflexivity and be able to comment on your own positionality in relation to the processes and practices shaping urban worlds.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5) You will effectively analyse differential lived experiences of contemporary cities.

How will I be assessed?

There is 1 summative assessment for this module.

The assessment is a 5000 words ethnographic report (100%) which asks you to discuss, evaluate and critically reflect upon data collected during the semester (this could include observations from one of the short afternoon fieldtrips in Newcastle) relating to the themes of the module. The report should explore how urban spaces are being produced, governed, contested and transformed across a range of scales, particularly focusing on how different groups/individuals encounter urban space in their everyday lives. It is designed to develop theoretical reflections and the ability to analyse real world processes and practices (MLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The assignment will be submitted and feedback will be provided in a detailed written format electronically via Turnitin. In addition, students will have the opportunity to gain verbal feedback on their ideas and structure of the assignment during the seminars.


Political Geographies (KE5006), Social Geography (KE5007); Approaches to Research in Human Geography (KE5005)



Module abstract

What are cities and what do they do? What is their place in the critical Human Geographies that you have engaged in your level 5 course work? This module takes a historical approach to enable you to think critically about how processes of urbanisation have been theorised and critiqued. In order to do this, we will situate the contributions of geographers in the wider context of urban studies. The module takes an international perspective, encouraging participants to read widely about the diversity of cities across the globe. More specifically, in the lectures and seminars, we will draw upon a range of empirical examples from academic staff’s research in Europe and the Americas. The module explores cities and their relationship to post-war consumer society, governance and the b/ordering of urban space, and how different groups have sought to challenge these processes and create democratic and in some cases post-capitalist urban worlds.

Course info

UCAS Code L700

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2022 or September 2023

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Our Campus based courses starting in 2022 and 2023 will be delivered on-campus with supporting online learning content. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to adjust the delivery of our education accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

On-campus contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with any additional restrictions, which may be imposed by the Government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors. This could potentially mean increased or fully online delivery, should such restrictions on in-person contact time be required.


Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions -
Fees and Funding -
Admissions Policy -
Admissions Complaints Policy -