Urban Environments

Syllabus outline:

1. The variety of urban environments

The characteristics and distribution of urban places, populations and economic activities

  • Characteristics of urban places, including site, function, land use, hierarchy of settlement (including megacities) and growth process (planned or spontaneous)
  • Factors affecting the pattern of urban economic activities (retail, commercial, industrial), including physical factors, land values, proximity to a central business district (CBD) and planning
  • Factors affecting the pattern of residential areas within urban areas, including physical factors, land values, ethnicity and planning
  • The incidence of poverty, deprivation and informal activity (housing and industry) in urban areas at varying stages of development

2. Changing urban systems

How economic and demographic processes bring change over time to urban systems

  • Urbanization, natural increase and centripetal population movements, including rural-urban migration in industrializing cities, and inner city gentrification in post-industrial cities
  • Centrifugal population movements, including suburbanization and counter-urbanization
  • Urban system growth including infrastructure improvements over time, such as transport, sanitation, water, waste disposal and telecommunications

Case study of infrastructure growth over time in one city

  • The causes of urban deindustrialization and its economic, social and demographic consequences

3. Urban environmental and social stresses

The varying power of different stakeholders in relation to the experience of, and management of, urban stresses

  • Urban microclimate modification and management, including the urban heat island effect, and air pollution patterns and its management

Case study of air pollution in one city and its varying impact on people

  • Traffic congestion patterns, trends and impacts

Case study of one affected city and the management response

  • Contested land use changes, including slum clearances, urban redevelopment and the depletion of green space

Detailed contrasting examples of two affected neighbourhoods and their populations

  • Managing the impacts of urban social deprivation, including the cycle of deprivation and geographic patterns of crime

4. Building sustainable urban systems for the future

Future possibilities for the sustainable management of urban systems

  • Urban growth projections for 2050, including regional/continental patterns and trends of rural–urban migration and changing urban population sizes and structures
  • Resilient city design, including strategies to manage escalating climatic and geopolitical risks to urban areas

Two detailed examples to illustrate possible strategies

  • Eco city design, including strategies to manage the urban ecological footprint

Two detailed examples to illustrate possible environmental strategies

  • Smart city design and the use of new technology to run city services and systems, including purpose-built settlements and retrofitting technology to older settlements

Synthesis (Sy), Evaluation (Ev) and Skills (Sk) opportunities

  • How urban changes over time are affected by a place’s economic and demographic spatial interactions with other places [Sy]
  • Contrasts in the scale of changes and challenges facing different urban areas [Sy/Ev]
  • Varying perspectives of different social groups on the costs and benefits of different urban strategies, and priorities for action [Ev]
  • How urban patterns, movements, flows and trends/temporal changes can best be represented graphically [Sk]