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Cities Without Slums (ABPL90279)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeABPL90279
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject was formerly called Comparative Housing Policy and Services.

Urbanization can be a generative force of our time. For the first time in human history, more people live in cities and towns than in rural areas. Around 56 percent of the world’s population is urbanized (2017 figures) and the United Nations predicts that between now and 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people will be born in or move to cities. This opens new and exciting opportunities for social mobility and economic productivity. Citizens and visitors alike in urban areas now have greater access to education, health, employment and transport. However, while cities and towns are recognized as engines of national economic growth and centres of innovation, poorly planned and mismanaged urbanization can further reinforce the already present wicked challenges of poverty, informality, affordable housing, climate change, and inequity.

For instance, it is estimated that one in every seven people (i.e. more than 1 billion people) live in slums and unplanned settlements around the world - lacking affordable and secure housing and basic services such as clean water supply and sanitation. The UN estimates that 227 million people moved out of slum conditions from 2000-2010 yet the number of people living in slums continues to grow. It is projected that by 2030 two billion persons will live in slums.

There is a widening participation of actors and agencies - governments, the private sector, civil society and poor communities themselves becoming crucial players in improving and upgrading existing settlements. Moreover, there is an increasing number of initiatives across sectors to better plan for and accommodate the urban poor’s right to the city, to create better cities for all.

This subject has four underlying themes, namely:

  • To explain the process of urbanization, the importance of housing, and policies that give rise to slum formation and the persistence of slums.
  • To make use of practice-oriented research, employs case studies from around the globe to explore government-led, community-led, and community/local government partnership approaches to slum upgrading and the delivery of land and provision of basic services in the context of urban governance.
  • To examine cross-cutting topics that underwrite inclusive and sustainable, well-managed cities, including regulatory frameworks, security of tenure, housing finance, land use and transport interaction and linkages, and affordable house designs.
  • Analyse emerging ‘best-practice’ over the years and the roles of institutions in influencing and/or formulating national urbanization, housing and slum upgrading policies.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Develop a critical understanding of the policy and governance issues at the level of the city relevant to affordable land and housing delivery options for low-income households, with a focus on slum upgrading.
  • Gain knowledge of slum upgrading entry points, approaches and processes, and strengths and limitations, to better tackle inequality and to support the development of cities for all.
  • Exercise critical understanding and gain applied knowledge of urban governance, slum upgrading and housing programmes that address the multi-dimensional factors of urban poverty through cases studies from around the globe (with an emphasis on the Asia Pacific Region).
  • Gain insight into the role of a diverse set of actors and agencies in espousing the right to the city and shaping urban policies and 'best practices' to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Generic skills

  • Gain critical reading, thinking, debating and problem solving skills
  • Conduct research and analysis of scientific and policy evidence
  • Acquire written and verbal communication skills 
  • Acquire the ability to work individually as well as collaboratively in teams
  • Reflective practice skills

Last updated: 13 August 2019