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Undergraduate course

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

Main content

ECTS Credits


Teaching semester

The course can be offered both spring and autumn, but the offer will vary from semester to semester

Objectives and Content

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.

Learning Outcomes

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

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge

SOS100A Introduction to Sociology with Specialization / SOS100B Introduction to Sociology

Access to the Course

Open for all students at UiB

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and seminars (altogether 40-44 hours).

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

  • 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.

Forms of Assessment

2-day home exam

4000 words (+/- 10%) 

Grading Scale

Graded A-F  

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester and the following semester (ordinary exam for students with valid and approved compulsory requirements).

Course Evaluation

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

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  

Course Coordinator

Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB. 

Course Administrator

Department of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme


Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Take home exam

    Assignment handed out
    29.11.2022, 09:00
    Submission deadline
    01.12.2022, 12:00
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam