Sustainability in an Urbanising World

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The course addresses present urbanization processes in the context of globalization processes, and focuses on challenges and opportunities for sustainable development. The course provides insight into central human geographical theoretical and methodological perspectives, and research based comparative insights from cities and communities across the world.


More than half of the world`s population now lives in cities. This poses a range of social and environmental challenges for citizens, planners and policy makers for the sustainable development of each city as well as at the global scale. The course examines how global flows of capital, resources, ideas and people shape uneven global development, with a particular focus on urbanization as a spatial expression of such globalization processes. The course emphasizes human geographical perspectives on place, space and scale to address the development of such regional, national and global inequalities. In this way, the students will become familiar with current processes of change and contestation at different scales and the forces behind changes in place, related to planning, social action, resources and energy, environment and the climate, climate and energy transformation, economic development, migration and production of meaning. Through examples given in lectures, students will be acquainted with contemporary challenges for the development of sustainable cities and communities.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • can provide a basic overview of some central human geographical approaches to urbanization, globalization and development.
  • can outline and discuss processes of change at different scales and the forces of change in places.
  • can discuss contemporary challenges for the sustainable development of cities and communities such as energy, infrastructure, pollution, immigration, inequality and climate change mitigation and adaption.
  • can elaborate on planning as a tool for sustainable development.


The student

  • can participate in a group discussion.
  • can write an essay referring to relevant literature.
  • is able to use relevant theory in the analysis of empirical cases.

General competence

The student

  • has acquired theoretical knowledge and insight on urbanization, globalization and sustainability issues, and can apply place, space and scale as concepts to analyze society.

Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
GEO121/GEO125 or GEO123/ GEO124 or equivalent basic knowledge in regional reconstructing
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
GEO221 (10 ECTS)
Teaching and learning methods

1-2 lectures á 2 hours pr. week

Total: 10-12 lectures.

1 seminar á 2 hours pr. week.

Total: 6-8 seminars

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Compulsory seminars
Forms of Assessment
  • Student paper, 40% of grade
  • Written exam 5 hours, 60% of grade
  • All parts of assessment must be passed in the same semester. Grades for each part of assessment and the final grade will be published in Studentweb.

    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

    Grading Scale
    Grading A-F
    Assessment Semester

    Assessment in teaching semester.

    Retake exam:

    Exam part 1: Student paper

    Students with valid absence as defined in the UiB regulations § 5-5 can apply for an extended submission deadline to The application must be submitted before the deadline for submission has expired.

    Exam part 2: Written exam 5 hours:

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

    If there is a retake exam for students with valid absence, all students with valid compulsory activity can sign up for the retake exam. 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 August 1.

    Course Evaluation
    All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.