Module Introduction and Aims This is an option module open to PGT and MArch students.


1. Module Introduction and Aims

This is an option module open to PGT and MArch students.

The aims of this module are to:

K1. to provide students with an intellectual and methodological framework allowing them to understand built environment as a product of diverse socio-political, economic and cultural forces.

K2.   to introduce students to a broad range of theories and readings, linking architecture to other academic disciplines dealing with a built environment, such as human geography, urban sociology, political theory and urban economics.

S1.   for students to acquire the ability of close reading and textual analysis, in order to explore architectural production within a wider intellectual framework that considers its social, political and disciplinary context

S2.  for students to acquire the ability to critically contextualise processes of design and production of a built environment.

Option module / 15 Credits

Changes to modules since last session

Minor changes / updates of the content of delivered lectures.

2. The Learning Approach

Typical notional hours spent in learning in this


Lect ure Sem




Prob lem Solv ing Lab orat

orie s

Fiel d

Wor k

Plac eme


Inde pen dent Lear ning Othe r


udes supe rvise d studi o)

Total (credi ts


14 hours 6 hours 6 hours 124 hours 150 hours

The University of Sheffield conforms to the Higher Education convention that 10 credits = 100 notional learning hours, 15 credits = 150 hours, etc.

The module is taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and independent learning.


Lectures will deliver the core knowledge required for the unit, and will be arranged thematically to provide a broad introduction to critical urban and architectural theory. This might include themes such as: Spatiality of power, Ideology and a City, Urban  experimentations. Lectures will be supplemented by further reading and reference list. Each thematic cluster will be supported by a seminar.


Seminars will provide opportunities to discuss the thematic clusters. Seminars are student-led group presentations and discussions with students presenting and discussing chosen by them case studies in a context of theoretical issues introduced in lectures.


Independent study is essential to the successful completion of the unit.  Students are required to acquire theoretical knowledge through further reading and discussions in student led-seminars.

3. The Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate:

LO1.     [K1, S1] a knowledge of the social, political and cultural contexts that influence the production of built environment

LO2.     [K2, S2] that they have developed their own coherent understanding of socio-political, cultural and economic forces influencing architectural production LO3.   [S1] that they have developed research skills for analysing theoretical texts

LO4.   [S2] that they have developed verbal & written presentation skills, particularly the ability to initiate and sustain group discussion

4. Skills and employability

The knowledge and skills you are likely to gain from this module have the potential to be useful in a diverse range of situations that could be valuable to you in your career and that are likely to be useful and valued in graduate-level employment, including:

S1.the ability to explore architectural production within a wider intellectual framework by considering the social, political and disciplinary context in which it is produced

S2.the ability to be able to relate the critical spatial theories covered in the module to the production of your own design or artistic production

5. Course content

Space, Power, Society

This module focuses on socio-political, economical, ideological and cultural factors shaping and influencing buildings and cities. In a tradition of critical theory, this module analyses hidden aspects of built environment causing social exclusion / inclusion and oppression / emancipation. Through lectures and group workshops, the module will provide an introduction to critical analyses of built environment in a global context.

Each session is organised around a particular issue analysed in diverse contexts.


Space – Ideology – Power (theoretical introduction)
Monday, Week 3 10:00 – 12:30 online Spatiality of power. Ideology and a City
Monday, Week 4 10:00 – 12:30 online Fixed infrastructure, nomadic user?
Contemporary City (here and now)
Monday, Week 5 10:00 – 12:30 online Let’s create borders. Anti- Polis.
Week 7 10:00 – 12:30 online WORKSHOP: regulations, space, society
Experiments (beyond here and now)
Monday, Week 7 10:00 – 12:30 online Post-capitalist city: radical democracy

Post-capitalist city: messianic city

Monday, Week 9 10:00 – 12:30 online
Monday, Week 10 10:00 – 12:30 online WORKSHOP: design as knowledge

production activity

Monday, Week 11 10:00 – 12:30 online Tutorials
Monday, Week 12 10:00 – 12:30 online Tutorials

The submission of the essay (via Blackboard) is scheduled on 12th May 2021; the interviews will happen on 19th May 2021.

6. Assessment Methods and Criteria

Proportions of

assessment for this module

Formal exam Coursew ork Laborato ry work Fieldwor k Project (Include s design portfolio) Other Total (=100%)
70% 30% 100%

The required essay of up to 2,000 words is the primary means of assessment and accounts for 70% of the student’s mark. It may be also a ‘design essay’, where the argument is supported by design investigation. The essay will be used to test understanding and knowledge presented in the lectures and developed in the seminars. Particular attention will be paid to ensuring that the students make a critical interpretation of various approaches and theories covered in the module.


Interview to discuss and assess students critical understanding of the module content.

This interview account for a 30% of the mark.


The module will be assessed according to the following criteria

AC1.    the ability to discuss and write in depth about the social, political and disciplinary contexts that influence the practice of architecture and urbanism AC2.    the ability to critically analyse and reflect on the social, political, economic, cultural and ideological contexts that influence the practice of architecture

AC3.   the accurate use of academic referencing and citation in written work

AC4.    the clarity of verbal presentation and the ability to critically justify own architectural (theoretical) position

Formative feedback on seminar presentations will be provided orally.

Summative (final) feedback will be provided after the essay has been marked. This will include a mark on the PGT marking scale and written feedback (on Blackboard).

Essays must be written to a high academic standard and should follow referencing guidelines as stated in this handbook.


9.     Reading and Reference List (essential reading in red)


A. Space – Ideology – Power

  • Dovey, K. (2014). Framing places: Mediating power in built form. London: Routledge  Foucault, M. (1980). ‘Questions on Geography’ in Gordon, C. (Ed.) in

Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 by Michel Foucault. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, pp. 63-73.

  • Haraway, D. (1991). ‘A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and SocialistFeminism in the Late Twentieth Century’ in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, pp. 149-181.
  • Hirst, P. (1993). Foucault and Architecture. AA Files, (26), 52–60.
  • Hirst, P. (2005). Space and Power. Politics, War and Architecture, Cambridge: Polity Press
  • Schmitt, C. (2003). The nomos of the earth in the international law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum. New York: Telos Press Publishing.
  • Schmitt, C. (2004). The theory of the partisan: a commentary/remark on the concept of the political. Michigan State University Press.

B. Contemporary Cities

  • Agamben, G. (1998). Homo sacer: sovereign power and bare life. Translated by Daniel

Heller, Palo Alto. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press

  • Allen S Soja E W (1996). The City: Los Angeles and the Urban Theory at the End of

Twentieth Century University of California Press, Berkeley

  • Brugmann, J, (2009), Welcome to the Urban Revolution. How Cities Are Changing the World, Harper Litmus India
  • Davies M (2006) Planet of Slums Verso, London
  • Dean J (2009) Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies. Communicative Capitalism and Left Politics Duke University Press, Durkham & London
  • Florida R (2005) Cities and the Creative Class Routledge, New York and London
  • Glaeser, E. (2011), Triumph of the City. London: Macmillan

C. Experiments

  • Beaumont, J. (2011). Postsecular cities: space, theory and practice. New York: Continuum
  • Bey, H. (2003). TAZ: the temporary autonomous zone, ontological anarchy, poetic terrorism. Los Angeles: Autonomedia


  • Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2006). The end of capitalism (as we knew it) a feminist critique of political economy. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.
  • Hardt, M.; Negri, A. (2009). Commonwealth. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Harvey, D. (2012). Rebel cities. From the right to the city to the urban revolution. London-New York: Verso
  • Harvey, D. (2000). Spaces of hope. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory.

Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Taubes, J. (2009). Occidental eschatology. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Taubes, J. (2013). To Carl Schmitt: letters and reflections. New York: Columbia University Press.