UCL Centre for languages & international education (CLIE)


London's Urban Development: Politics, Policy and Design

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session Two
Module leader
Dr Daniel Kilburn
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Fieldwork record (25%), Presentation (25%), Essay (50%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
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Module overview

This module will explore how London’s urban form is developing in response to the economic, social, and environmental challenges associated with its role as a ‘global city’.

Capitalising on UCL’s position in the heart of London, the module will combine fieldwork alongside seminars, classes, and workshops. It will introduce students to key frameworks for urban policy and planning decision-making, and will examine the processes shaping the urban development within London. Students will engage with current debates over issues such as airport expansion, super-tall buildings and affordable housing. Perspectives from social science and urban design will be used to critically examine how cities can respond to the challenge of ensuring a sustainable urban future. The insights, knowledge and skills developed on this module can ultimately be applied to cities around the world.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand the forces driving urban development on a global scale and be able to evaluate their impact on the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of cities
  • Be familiar with key policies relating to urban development and the processes through which planning decisions are made in London
  • Be equipped to engage with debates concerning urban development by examining competing perspective and formulating their own recommendations
  • Have experience of designing urban research projects, conducting fieldwork, analysing evidence from a range of sources, and producing high-quality reports and outputs
  • Be able to apply their knowledge and skills to critically analyse urban development in contexts around the world.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • Fieldwork record (25%)
  • 10-minute presentation (25%)
  • 2,000-word essay (50%)

Module leader

Dr Daniel Kilburn is a geography teaching fellow at UCL. His research explores how urban policy, planning and development shapes cities and influences the lives of their inhabitants. He was born and raised in London and is passionate about its past, present and future.

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