EC317-Urban Economics

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: EC201 Intermediate Microeconomics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Vivien Burrows


Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module introduces students to key topics in urban economics. We will examine some of the main economic theories and models that are used to study cities and their development, and explore a range of problems that affect cities and policies that can be used to address them. 


The module aims to introduce students to key topics in urban economics and examine how economists use economic models to study cities and their development. The first part of the course will look at how economic theory explains the size and growth of cities, and what factors determine the location decisions of firms and households. The second part of the course will analyse policy-relevant issues, including urban crime, poverty and inequality, urban congestion, and housing.

Assessable learning outcomes:

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

  1. apply economic theory to explain why cities exist and the size and growth of cities;

  2. apply economic theory to analyse urban policy issues and assess the outcomes of alternative policies;

  3. critically assess some of the empirical research in urban economics;

  4. discuss the role of local government and the challenges involved in designing optimal urban policies.

Additional outcomes:

Students will have the opportunity to further develop their oral and written communication skills through classroom discussions and written assignments.

Outline content:

Topics to be covered include: why cities exist; the determinants of city size, structure and growth; understanding the location decisions of firms and households; urban sprawl; urban crime; transport; housing and housing policy issues.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures will be used to introduce and discuss the material. Students are expected to prepare for lectures by reading recommended materials and to participate in any classroom discussions. Office hours are available for students to consult the lecturer on an individual basis.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 2
Practicals classes and workshops 8
Guided independent study: 152 18
Total hours by term 180 20
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 25
Set exercise 15

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One 3-hour unseen written examination.

Part 3 examinations are held in the Summer term.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Two assignments due in the spring term: one problem set due in the middle of the spring term (worth 15%) and one 1,800 word assignment due at the end of the spring term (worth 25%).

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A minimum overall mark of 40%.

Reassessment arrangements:

Re-examination for all modules takes place in August of the same year.

Re-assessment is by examination only; coursework is not included at the second attempt.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 4 April 2020


Things to do now