Institute for Global Health


Urban Health

In an urbanizing world, the health of people in cities and towns is a global concern. Urban health is a developing discipline and its boundaries and key interests are under constant negotiation. Research on urban themes is a particular strength of departments across UCL, and led to collaboration on the Lancet-UCL Commission on Healthy Cities. 

This module aims to give students a sense of engagement in a field that is intrinsically multidisciplinary, and to contribute to discussions about how it should develop. Students will work toward key learning outcomes, but will also participate in the dialogue on what we should think of as urban health and to what degree it should harness the contributions of specific disciplines (including population health sciences, engineering, crime science, urban planning and architecture). The module will act as a point of cross-disciplinary contact within UCL and will emphasize collaborative teaching and the generation of new ideas for multidisciplinary research.

The module has two general themes:

1. The historical and political legacy that informs current discussions.

2. Simultaneous consideration of high-, middle- and low-income countries.

Module Code: GLBH0026


UCL Credits: 15

Module Organisers: Prof David Osrin and Shivani Singh Please direct queries to the course administration team in the first instance igh.adminpg@ucl.ac.uk

PowerPoint presentation on Urban Health by Prof Osrin

Who can study this course?


MSc/PG Dip Global Health and Development students, other UCL MSc/PG Dip students, Taster course students, Short course students.

Admission Requirements


MSc and PG Dip students: Open to all UCL MSc/PG Dip Global Health and Development, and to any UCL MSc/PG Dip students.

Taster students: UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or upper 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.  Two academic or professional reference letters.

Short course students: Professional work experience in a relevant area and/or UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.

In addition to the above,
all students must demonstrate a GOOD standard of English Proficiency with 6.5 in each of the subtests.

Course length3 weeks 
Course dates11 - 29 May 2020
Days and times

Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 09.30 to 12.30 and 14.00 to 16.30 in first two weeks. 

Assessment to be completed in final week and submitted by 9:00am on 1 June 2020.




  • Urbanization and the nature of urban health.
  • Urban healthcare.
  • Urban violence, crime and health.
  • Informal settlements and health.
  • Sanitation and its histories.
  • Urban planning, food and health.
  • Urban transport and health.
  • Urban mobility and health.
  • Disability and urban health.
  • Urban migration, labour and health.
  • Urban heat, air quality, buildings and health.
  • Towards a definition of urban health.

Teaching and learning methods


Lectures: by specialists from across UCL faculties.

Seminars: emphasizing negotiation of the parameters of urban health.

Group work: emphasizing development of research questions.

Student-led presentations: emphasizing critical appraisal of evidence.

Essay: emphasizing synthesis of several domains of knowledge.


Essay (100%) 2000 words

Assessment Date

Assessment to be completed in final week and submitted by 9:00am on 1 June 2020.

Selected Reading List


UN-HABITAT (2003) The challenge of slums: global report on human settlements 2003 London and Sterling VA: Earthscan Publications Ltd.

Montgomery MR. (2009) Urban poverty and health in developing countries Washington DC: Population Reference Bureau.

Harpham T. (2009) Urban health in developing countries: what do we know and where do we go? Health and Place, 15:107-16.

Satterthwaite D. (2011) Why is urban health so poor even in many successful cities? Environment & Urbanization 23:5-11.

UN HABITAT (2012) State of the world's cities 2012/2103 Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme