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Course content

Key words – space, place, everyday life, public, architecture, city planning, preservation, urbanism, urbanization, modernism, consumerism, suburbanization, gentrification

The city is a universal development of civilization, a form of spatial organization combining administrative, economic and political functions. But cities and their urban networks are also particular cultural formations that can differ from one to society to the next. Clearly much can be said about a society in terms of how its cities developed and how they are understood and experienced.

In classical Greece, the city was indivisible from the common life and entailed such concepts as citizenship, politics, the state and even human nature. Classical urbanism in effect defined humankind as a political animal (Aristotle). In the making of modern Europe capital cities became the official expression of the state and the nation – an urbanism centered on architectural and monumental expressions of State power: the city became the “head” of the national body. The place of cities in U.S. American society has never been secure. American cities might be said to embody something of a paradox: at once powerful expressions of technological inventiveness and economic might they have been rejected as a suitable places to live. The postwar decline of American cities and their prospective (and sometimes actual) renewal has been a major and continuing concern of urban critics, reformers, city planners and geographers since the 1960s.

Your readings are organized around the following themes: postwar urbanization/suburbanization, what is urbanism? cities as expressions of place and community, urban design and the lives of the city, gentrification, decline and renewal in our time.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • know how to read the social world through geography, i.e. through spatial Development,
  • know how to think across boundaries and to creatively ask questions,
  • know how to apply a conceptual framework to reading a book on your own and to your term paper.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

This course is only available as directed reading. If you are interested in this course, contact the study advisor (studiekonsulent).


Recommended previous knowledge

There are no specific prerequisites. It is helpful if students have taken courses in human geography, sociology, architecture or philosophy.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with NORAM4515 – Cities and American Life (continued)


Directed reading. 


The exam consists of a portfolio of three written assignments.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

A term paper that has recieved a pass grade, cannot be submitted later in a revised version.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






This course is only offered as directed reading.

This course is offered irregularly.

Teaching language