KE6034 - Encountering Urban Worlds

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about the processes and practices shaping urban worlds and the ways in which these are socially and spatially differentiated, revealing the diversity of lived experiences in cities across the world as well as different theoretical histories and contemporary movements. You will learn the unique contribution geographers have made to our understanding of cities, everyday life in the city, and to think critically about urbanisation, in particular, to critique and challenge the dominance of neoliberal representations of the city. We will explore how processes of governance b/order urban space and the ways in which these are negotiated and contested. Key themes in the module will include cities and modernity; public space, place and identity; consumption, consumer culture and psychogeography; urban geopolitics; commons and housing; debates around the “right to the city”; and imagining the urban future. Through field work in and around Newcastle and culminating in the Amsterdam field trip, you will also learn to undertake place and participant observation, keep a fieldwork diary and analyse in-depth, ethnographic data.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars, short field trips, and a longer, international field trip to Amsterdam (3 nights); and independent learning and directed tasks (such as using study groups to lead seminars). The lectures will cover theories and concepts, case study material, key exemplars, and module staff’s own research. Where appropriate, guest lecturers will be invited to provide insights into critical urban geographies. Seminars are designed to allow you to explore issues raised in lectures, readings and other materials, e.g. documentary film and media in greater depth. Directed and independent learning tasks will be suggested each week to allow you to explore the module material in your own way. All your learning will be supported through resources made available on the module ELP.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported academically by a comprehensive module handbook outlining key dates, all seminar worksheets and assignment briefs for the academic year, plus key books and journals to help you plan your learning and time. You will be given directed reading from each lecture via an electronic reading list, while other learning resources, such as links to government or public-policy reports and documentary films will be added to the eLP throughout the course. You will receive tailored written feedback on the written assignments.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1) You will demonstrate a critical understanding of the diversity of processes and practices shaping urban worlds;
2) You will critically examine the ways in which urban spaces are being produced, governed, experienced, imagined, contested and transformed through everyday practices.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3) You will critically apply theories and concepts covered in the module to analyse real world case studies.
4) You will demonstrate critical reflexivity and be able to comment on your own positionality in relation to the processes and practices shaping urban worlds.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5) You will effectively analyse differential lived experiences of contemporary cities.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed on this module via a 6000 word reflexive journal. This is worth 100% of the module mark. This form of assessment is used because the module is designed to call into question the relationship between yourself, the city, and culturally-constructed others (both symbolically and materially).

Your journal should be used to think through reactions to the module and the associated reading, making links to your everyday life experiences and those encountered on the field-trip to Amsterdam and short Newcastle field excursions prior.

You will be encouraged to discuss and reflect upon past experiences, and how you see yourself in the context of the material discussed in the module. In addition, in writing this journal you are encouraged to express and think through ideas that you may have been reluctant to bring up in class and to creatively express yourself.
This form of assessment is designed to encourage you to view learning and assessment as a process rather than a one-off, end product. If you engage fully with it then you will get far more from this process than just a grade.


Political Geographies (KE5006), Social Geography (KE5007); Approaches to Research in Human Geography (KE5005)



Module abstract

What are cities, and what worlds do they contain? What is their place in the critical Human Geographies that you have engaged in your level 5 course work? This module enables you to think critically about how processes of urbanisation have been theorised and critiqued; and how cities are lived and experienced. In order to do this, we will situate the contributions of geographers in the wider context of urban studies. The module takes an international perspective, encouraging participants to read widely about the diversity of cities across the globe. More specifically, in the lectures and seminars, we will draw upon a range of empirical examples from academic staff’s research in Europe and the Americas. The module explores cities and their relationship to urban space and place, post-war consumer society, urban governance and the b/ordering of urban life, experiences of urban p(leisure), tolerance, and disgust; and how different groups have sought to challenge injustices and create democratic and in some cases post-capitalist urban worlds. These topics and themes will be covered through lectures and seminars, but also venturing into the urban field, culminating in a field trip to Amsterdam in November where we will explore planning and governance; bordering and sanctuary; (p)leisure, tolerance and disgust; and the commons/housing / public space. This trip will allow you to utilize the skills the critical concepts across the module and will also catalyse critical, reflexive thinking about what the city means to you, society, and the world.

Course info

UCAS Code L700

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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