GEOG30840 The Urban Environment

Academic Year 2019/2020

The majority of humanity now live in urban areas, which are densely occupied places that have experienced intensive landscape change. In addition, these are places of intensive energy, material and water use and waste generation. As a result the enviornment (atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere) for most on the planet have been modified, usually for the worse. The combined impact of cities worldwide is a major driver of global environmental changes that will have a enhanced impact on cities due to the concentration of humans and infrastructure at low elevations close to sea-level. This module consists of a series of lectures that cover the breadth of environmental issues associated with cities including the health consequences associated with degraded air and water quality and hiistorial and modern policies to manage these environments.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

A basic knowledge of the impacts of urban development on natural systems.
Acquire a historical and geographical appreciation of urban environmental issues and policy responses.
An understanding of how cities affect environmental changes at all scales up to the planetary scale and how global environmental changes will impact cities.

Indicative Module Content:

Physical geography of citie; Historical and global urbanisation; Urban footprints and metabolism; Land and materials; Energy and wate; Food and waste; Hydrology; Weather and climate; Biodiversity; Air and water quality; Flooding and heatwaves; Sustainable cities; Green and compact cities; High-rise cities; Smart cities

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Field Trip/External Visits


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The bulk of the course material is presented in the form of lectures most of which use current information to link the topic to current affairs. The field trip is an opportunity to link some ideas to the nature of the urban landscape as experienced by the student. The essay is an opportunity to delve into a topic of interest (an aspect of urbanisation or a city) in some detail and the exam attempts to evaluate your understanding of all of the materials within a coherent framework. While students may have encountered some of this material elsewhere, this course brings it together in a geographical context. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.  
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Fieldwork: The fieldtrip is self-directed. You select a place to illustrate aspects of the urban environment and complete a 1000 word report illustrated with a map. Week 9 n/a Graded No


Essay: The essay should be between 3,000-4,000 words long (not including references). Given the topics covered in this course your essay could focus on a topic (e.g. air pollution) and/or a city (e.g. Cairo) Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Examination: The final exam covers the topics of Urban Environment and is one hour long. 1 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The feedback is used to aid in understanding the materials during term and to prrpare for the final exam.

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Name Role
Professor Harriet Hawkins Subject Extern Examiner
Professor Glenn McGregor Subject Extern Examiner
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.  
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Mon 12:00 - 12:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Wed 11:00 - 11:50