Global Cities: An Introduction to Urban Sociology for the 21st Century



Mål og innhald

Demographers estimate that in 2009 we passed a global tipping point: for the first time in human history more people lived in cities than in rural areas, a trend that has since accelerated and is projected to continue, so that by 2050 70% of the world`s population will live in cities. Not only are more people living in cities, but cities are growing ever larger; the number of cities with more than 10 million inhabitants - `megacities` - is set to grow from 33 in 2018 to 43 by 2030 (UN, 2018). While cities are often sites of economic and cultural innovation and opportunity - hence their attractive power and growth - they also pose huge challenges - including the difficulties of containing contagious diseases (as we are seeing with COVID-19), transport across their often congested streets, the social sustainability of their ever changing, sometimes conflicting and often vastly unequal (in wealth, power, resources) populations, and environmental sustainability in the context of climate change: as so many large cities - from Rotterdam to Dakar - are situated in low lying delta regions.

This module will provide you with an introduction to urban sociology for the 21st century and equip you with the theoretical and investigative tools to analyse the dynamics and challenges of contemporary global cities. Drawing on case studies from different global regions - Europe (London, Oslo), Africa (Lagos), South and South East Asia (Delhi and Singapore), we will use a range of theories from classic urban sociology to globalisation, global cities theory (and its critics) to theories of specific processes (e.g. gentrification and the use of space) to understand urban dynamics, from segregation to land use disputes to religious rivalries.


A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student can...

  • provide and outline how life in cities and perspectives on urban processes have changed since the industrial revolution, and especially in recent decades
  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the concept of `global city` and of criticisms and developments of the concept
  • point out the challenges facing global cities, and present examples of how different cities are responding to these challenges
  • present an account of the lived experience of diverse residents in different global cities
  • outline how global cities interact with and influence each other and their surrounding regions, and the tensions involved in these relationships


The student...

  • is able to do in-depth studies of neighbourhoods in global cities
  • can relate a neighbourhood case study to global cultural and economic flows
  • can compare processes and lived experiences in different global cities
  • is able to reflect on the theoretical, research and sustainability challenges of global cities

General competence

The student...

  • will have a rough overview of sociological theory and research related to the phenomenon of global cities
  • can situate the global city phenomenon within sociological traditions
  • has knowledge about how residents from different social classes experience life in global cities
  • can articulate an overview of urban dynamics at different scales and with reference to appropriate methods within global cities

Studiepoeng, omfang


Studienivå (studiesyklus)



The course can be offered both spring and autumn, but the offer will vary from semester to semester
Krav til forkunnskapar
Tilrådde forkunnskapar
SOS100A Introduction to Sociology with Specialization / SOS100B Introduction to Sociology
Krav til studierett
Open for all students at UiB
Arbeids- og undervisningsformer
Lectures and seminars (altogether 40-44 hours).
Obligatorisk undervisningsaktivitet
  • Preparing and contributing to a group presentation on global influences in a neighbourhood of a large city and to a seminar discussion (about 30 minutes) related to a topic/an article(s)/a book section(s) from the cited literature or literature found by you or your work group.
  • Compulsory term paper (2000 words +/- 10 percent).
  • The presentation and the term paper must be approved before the student can take the written exam. Approved compulsory work requirements are valid in the current semester and the following semester.


    Take home exam (2 days, 4000 word limit +/- 10%)

    The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

    The exam can be submitted in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish

    Graded A-F  

    Assessment in teaching semester.

    A retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 in the UiB regulations.

    If there is a retake exam, this will be available for students with the follow results/absences:

    • Medical certificate/valid absence
    • Interruption during the exam
    • Fail/failed

    If you have the right to take a retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absences, you can sign up yourself in Studentweb after January 15.

    The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. 
    All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
    Hjelpemiddel til eksamen
    The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  
    Administrativt ansvarleg
    Department of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme