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7AAICC19 Culture and the City

Module convenor: Dr Vincent Gaine
Credits: 20
Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars
Module description:

The module aims to provide a critical understanding of the relationship between culture and the city. It unfolds the major issues and theories around the importance of culture and creativity in the cultural, economic and social understanding of urban spaces. The module offers a wide perspective on how culture and creativity have recently moved at the core of economic debates. It considers both the role of cultural consumption and production as drivers for the development of the ‘creative city’ discourse in urban policy and planning. The module aims provide students with theories and research tools: to engage with the current debate about the role of culture in the city; to evaluate the way in which the public policy framework shapes our understanding of culture and cultural investment; to appreciate the nature of work in the creative and cultural field and how it intertwined with place; to critique key concepts such as creativity, creative city and creative economy.  The course aims to engage students in these key topics not only through the literature but also with active learning and discussion using London as a case study to critically engage and observe these current debates as they shape the urban landscape and social fabric.

Draft teaching syllabus

  • Week 1: Introduction: cultural economy & the city between production and consumption
    Cultural Consumption:
  • Week 2: Cultural policy and urban development: regeneration or redevelopment?
  • Week 3: Understanding cultural consumption in the city: events, tourism & brand
  • Week 4: Cultural regeneration and participation: from culture to the social impact of the arts
    Peoples as culture:
  • Week 5: Artists and cultural work in the city
  • Week 6: Diversity, consumption and shaping culture in the neighbourhoods
    Cultural Production:
  • Week 7: From cultural quarters to creative clusters
  • Week 8: Creative class & co.
    Creativity & Global culture:
  • Week 9: Creative city: image or reality?
  • Week 10: Global dynamics of cultural production and global cities

Module aims

  • To introduce students to contemporary theories of cultural planning and urban development and ask how they are applied in the UK and international contexts.
  • To equip students with the knowledge and skills for interpreting and understanding changes in the urban environment which are connected with the presence of new and old cultural dynamics in the city.
  • To analyse relevant topics including culture-led regeneration; cultural production and consumption and their relation to place, creative and cultural clusters
  • To investigate how cities use culture for place promotion, urban branding, economic development and community regeneration.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a Level 7 module and in particular will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the advantages and limitations associated with particular organisational structures in the arts and cultural sector.
  • Explain and make appropriate use of knowledge about how the role of information impacts on the coordination and control of small arts and cultural organisations.
  • Critically assess the daily challenges of managing small arts and cultural sector organisations and how they are overcome.
  • Competently assess and apply a theoretically reasoned approach to leadership, and entrepreneurship in the context of small arts and cultural organisations.
  • Demonstrate initiative and originality in problem solving of complex organisational issues with particular regard to grant applications and marketing
  • Critically evaluate the extent to which theory informs practice in this context of small arts & cultural organisations

Core reading

  • Comunian, R. & Mould, O. 2014. The weakest link: Creative industries, flagship cultural projects and regeneration. City, Culture and Society, 5, 65-74.
  • Comunian, R. (2011) Rethinking the Creative City The Role of Complexity, Networks and Interactions in the Urban Creative Economy, Urban Studies, 48(6), 1157-1179.
  • Florida, R.L. (2002) The rise of the creative class: and how it's transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. Basic Books, New York, NY.
  • Kearns, G. and C. Philo (1993) Selling places: the city as cultural capital, past and present. Pergamon Press, Oxford England ; New York.
  • Landry, C. (2000) The creative city: A toolkit for urban innovators. Comedia: Earthscan, London.
  • Pratt, A.C. (2008a) Creative cities: the cultural industries and the creative class. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 90, 107-17.
  • Scott, A.J. (2000) The cultural economy of cities: essays on the geography of image-producing industries. Sage, London.Zukin, S. (1995) The cultures of cities. Blackwell, Cambridge, MA
  • Zukin, S. (1995) The cultures of cities. Blackwell, Cambridge, MA.


  • 1 x 1,000 word Walking Ethnography Report (25%)
  • 1 x 3,000 word essay (75%)

Student can pass when their overall mark is 50 or more. When they have failed the module, they can resit only the failed component(s).

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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