Urbanization Case Study Gcse Online

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Urban Populations

Describe the pattern of global urbanisation [3]
Centripetal and Centrifugal Movements
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Urban Land Use

Urban Modelling and Theories
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Examine the 5 images below and discuss the link between location and family life cycle.Make a list of the expectations that you would have in each stage and how this would impact where you live. 

The New York Times has published a series of maps below based on census data which shows the density of different populations in various American cities.  Choose two to five cities and describe patterns that you see then analyse possible reasons for the patterns that you see.  How might these maps, or the data used to create the maps, be helpful for urban planners?

Case Study: Detroit

Read the following article on Detroit.  As manufacturing in Detroit went elsewhere, urban deprivation increased and eventually Detroit became a bankrupt city.  Using the resources below, discuss possible strategies for Detroit to work towards being a successful urban area once again.  

​Explain what the informal economy is and how it affects urban environments. Use the YouTube below.

The Sustainable City

City Inputs: Water, energy, food, products, materials and people due to migration.

City processes: manufacturing, banking, construction, water management, health care, education, transportation

City Outputs: Air pollution, Noise Pollution, Water pollution, Lack of green areas (recreation), Higher education, Waste material (rubbish), Traffic, People due to migration.
  1. View the videos below and consider different strategies towards creating a sustainable city.  
  2. Compare and contrast aspects of sustainable cities in NICs and MEDCs. (6)
  3. Exam style question: "Creating a sustainable city is unachievable."  Discuss this statement. (10)

Sushi, part of the UNEP, has developed sustainable strategies for cities.  Investigate how their strategies were implimented and evaluate their progress.  You can link to their website and a downloadable PDF (10)
Click on image for link

Possible IA investigation

Investigate two shopping areas in an urban area of your choice.  One in the city centre and one on the rural-urban fringe.  
    • 11.2.1: Areas of economic activity
      • Explain the spatial pattern of economic activity, the zoning of urban and suburban functions and the internal structure of the central business district (CBD).
  • Students will evaluate:
    1. Via Survey:
      1. Sphere of influence
      2. order of goods...convenience vs. specialty goods
      3. consumer mode of transport
    2. Via Mapping:
      1. shop function
      2. shop density
      3. shopping centre footprint in square meters or hectares.
      4. parking availability
    3. Via Data collection
      1. customer footfall
      2. Price Comparison of at least five goods
  • What else could be evaluated?  Do the two shopping area meet expected outcomes of land use and zoning patterns for urban environments?
  • Can you think ways to collect qualitative data in addition to the quantitative data sets above?


1. Urban Populations
2. Urban Land Use
3. Urban Stress
4. The Sustainable City

BA History,
University of Pittsburgh
MS Instructional Leadership, Robert Morris University
Collaborative creator of this page
Learn the key terms found in the slideshare.
  1. Urbanization
  2. Centripetal vs. centrafugal movements
  3. Rural-urban migration
  4. Gentrification
  5. Re-urbanization/urban renewal
  6. Suburbanization
  7. Urban sprawl
  8. Global mega-city
  9. CBD
  10. Inner city
  11. Brownfield and greenfield sites 
  12. Urban stress
  13. Urban microclimate 
  14. Sustainable city
  15. Urban ecological footprint

Urbanisation of the world (%)
Examine the following images. What patterns and trend can you see? Create a spider diagram of all relevant information you can discover from the images.
Read the following articles about global mega cities and answer the following the questions:  
  • Explain the global increase in the number of mega cities.
  • What are the factors which determine the boundaries of an urban area?  
  • How is the population or area of cities measured?
  • Where are mega cities most likely to occur?  
  • Why are so many mega cities growing in China?
You may also need to do additional research.
This BBC series on the megacity may be interesting for further viewing.  Along with Andrew Marr's commentary, it gives some interesting views into what life and city planning looks like in some of the world's megacities.  
The Economist has written about whether to build new housing developments in London's Metropolitan Green Belt or not.  What do you think? What would be the benefits? What are the arguments against? If you were a person who paid a lot of money to buy  a house near the Green Belt, assuming that building on the Green Belt in the future would remain off limits, how would you feel if the rules changed?

Read about it here.  And here is the graph about the changing housing prices in and around London.
Exam style question:  In a city you have studied, evaluate the urban stress.  (10)

Plan and write the above essay

​You may want to consider some or all of the following aspects of urban stress: congestion, overcrowding, noise levels, green space availability, waste overburden, quality of housing, social deprivation, physical disorder, crime and inequality.  

Urbanisation can cause problems such as transport congestion, lack of sufficient housing, over-rapid growth and environmental degradation. Many cities display particularly sharp inequalities in housing provision, health and employment.

Some people try to escape these problems by moving away from the city - a process called counter-urbanisation. Long term, however, the solution must be to make cities more sustainable [sustainable: Doing something in a way that minimises damage to the environment and avoids using up natural resources, eg by using renewable resources. ].

Causes of urbanisation

Urbanisation means an increase in the proportion of people living in urban areas compared to rural areas. An urban area is a built-up area such as a town or city. A rural area is an area of countryside.

As a country industrialises, the number of people living in urban areas tends to increase. The UK and many other MEDCs [MEDC: A More Economically Developed Country (MEDC) has high levels of development based on economic indicators such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] urbanised during the 18th and 19th centuries. People migrated from rural areas (due to the mechanisation in farming) to urban areas where there was employment in the new factories. The area of cities known as the inner city developed during this time as rows of terraced housing were built for workers.

Santiago, Chile

Today the UK is a mostly urban society, with 90 per cent of the population living in towns or cities.

On a global scale, urbanisation is taking place rapidly, particularly in LEDCs [LEDC: A Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC) has low levels of development, based on economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ].

Although the UK is an urban society, more and more people are choosing to live on the edge of urban areas - with many relocating to the countryside. This is called counter-urbanisation.

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