UCL Summer School


Urban Environmental Politics

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session One
Module leader
Dr Seth Gustafson
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Presentation (20%), Essay (80%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
Urban Environmental Politics

Module overview

As the planet’s land use and human population become increasingly urban, environmental problems and politics of cities are evermore critical for improving socio-environmental relationships and outcomes. Thus, this module will explore the urban political conflicts of environmental issues like climate change, air pollution, water quality/quantity, resource and energy use, waste disposal, and more. Using a range of case studies from around the world and beginning with some of the contested material flows of resources that both transform and comprise cities, the module then will move to address politicized ideas of nature, conservation, and habitats in the city while concluding with discussions of human agency and responses to the uneven social impacts of urban environmental problems.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • understand the diverse environmental challenges cities face around the globe
  • be able to analyse the range of political responses to these challenges
  • think clearly about similarities and differences between and within cities in the Global North and Global South
  • begin to use learned research methods to investigate the complexity urban environmental issues
  • understand and explain in a presentation and written report some of the urban environmental problems they see in their own cities using academic concepts learned from the module

Module prerequisites

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


  • 10-minute presentation (20%)
  • 2,500 word essay (80%)

Module leader

Dr Seth Gustafson is a lecturer in Human Geography at UCL. His research interests include urban, political, and environmental geography. His most recent research focusses on environmental politics in port cities of Europe and New Zealand, but his dissertation research was about urban environmental politics in historically rural areas of southern Appalachia. Before working at UCL, he completed a post-doctoral research position at the University of Bremen in Germany and earned a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Georgia in the United States.

Application information

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