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Urban environments

Content Learning Outcomes Notes
1.     Urban populations

2 hours

·        Urbanisation





·        Inward movement







·        Outward movement





·        Natural change






·        The global megacity



Define urbanisation and explain the variation in global growth rates and patterns.


Explain the processes of centripetal movements (rural-urban migration, gentrification, re-urbanisation/urban renewal).


Explain the processes of centrifugal movements (suburbanisation, counter-urbanisation, urban sprawl).


Explain the contribution of natural change to patterns of population density within urban areas.


Explain the global increase in the number and location of magacities (population over 10 million).

2.     Urban land use

·        Residential areas


4 hours

















·        Areas of economic activity


4 hours


Explain the location of residential areas in relation to wealth, ethnicity and family status (stage in life cycle).

Examine patterns of urban poverty and deprivation (such as slums, squatter settlements, areas of low-cost housing and inner-city areas).


Examine the causes and effects of the movement of socio-economic groups since the 1980s.


Explain the spatial pattern of economic activity, the zoning of urban and suburban functions and the internal structure of the central business district (CBD).


Describe the informal sector; its characteristics and location in urban areas.


Examine the causes and effects of the movement of retailing, service and manufacturing activities to new locations, including brownfield sites.

3.     Urban stress

·        Urban microclimates


4 hours





·        Other types of environmental and social stress


4 hours


Examine the effects of structures and human activity on urban microclimates, including the heat island effect and air pollution.


Examine the other symptoms of urban stress including congestion, overcrowding and noise, depletion of green space, waste overburden, poor quality housing, social deprivation, crime and inequality.

4.     The sustainable city

·        The city as a system


2 hours



















·        Case studies

4 hours








Sustainable strategies


6 hours



Describe the city as a system in terms of:

–         Inputs – energy, water, people, materials, products, food (urban agriculture)

–         Outputs – solid, atmospheric and liquid waste, noise, people.


Distinguish between a sustainable circular system where inputs are reduced and outputs are recycled and an unsustainable (open/linear) city system with uncontrolled inputs and outputs.


Referring to at least two city case studies, discuss the concept of:

–         Sustainable city management

–         The urban ecological footprint.


Evaluate one case study of each of the following.

–         One socially sustainable housing strategy

–         One environmentally sustainable pollution management strategy.

–         One strategy to control rapid city growth resulting from in-migration.

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