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 or EC201NU Intermediate Microeconomics
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2021/2

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 factors that determine the size and growth of cities;

  2. discuss the theory and evidence on the different sources of agglomeration economies;

  3. apply economic theory to analyse a range of urban policy issues, including neighbourhood segregation, urban sprawl, urban crime, congestion and housing;

  4. assess polic y solutions that can be used to address urban problems, combining both theory and evidence.

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. Seminars will supplement the lectures and will be used to work through exercises and discuss questions related to each topic. Office hours are available for students to consult the lecturer on an individual basis.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 2
Seminars 8
Guided independent study: 152 18
Total hours by term 0 180 20
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 40

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:

One written assignment due in the spring term (worth 40%)

Formative assessment methods:

Students will be encouraged to work through weekly problem sets, which will be discussed in the seminars.

Penalties for late submission:

The Support Centres 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 (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):

1) Required text books:  None

2) Specialist equipment or materials:  None

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:  None

4) Printing and binding:  None

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:  None

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:  None

Last updated: 30 July 2021


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