POLS216-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

City Politics and Urban Policy

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


This is the century of the city. By 2050, seven in ten people on the planet will be living in an urban area. Many of the rapidly growing cities are larger than small nations. How do cities make decisions? How do citizens in cities effect change? This course examines local and regional community politics in rapidly developing urban areas and struggling regions; in particular the course examines the role and function of local democracy through the lens of public participation in key policy issues. Discussion and analysis considers the role of the public in policy formulation, and implementation at neighbourhood, city and regional level; and the relationship between local and central government and international agencies and considers the changing roles and challenges of local governance. There is a special focus on the politics of disasters and community recovery. Teaching includes field trips in both Christchurch and Westport field centre.

In 2021 we will NOT be attending a field trip in Westport. Instead, we will use Christchurch City as our living laboratory to reflect on a century of the city, where decisions and actions in our local urban communities determine our shared future.

In this, the century of the city, decisions and actions in urban communities will determine our shared future. A hundred years ago only about three of 10 people lived in a city but by 2050, seven in 10 of us will live in an urban area. Each day, 1000s of people somewhere in the world move into cities in search of new employment opportunities, social activities or health amenities, or to be closer to family and friends. How we make decisions in our cities will determine the future of public life

This course examines city and urban politics; in particular the course examines the role and function of local democracy through the lens of public participation in key New Zealand urban policy issues and there will be opportunity for individual students to follow their professional or research interests in their case study reports. Classes will include site visits and key speakers.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning Outcomes- at the completion of this
  • Students will be able to identify and discuss challenges of urban development and examine the strengths and weaknesses of policy responses to these pressures.
  • Students will analyse the role and influence of residents/citizens, local governments, Iwi & businesses and other NGOS in policy decision processes at neighbourhood and city level and compare urban experiences of these groups internationally;
  • Students will be able to critique the relationship between local and central government and international agencies and consider the changing roles and challenges of local governance.
  • Successful students will interrogate the way that built communities reflect and enable political-cultural expression For example, how development of Māori and Pacific representation, multi-culturalism and indigenous practices in urban planning.
  • Students will be able to conduct field observations, interviews and low impact surveys compile & analyse results about citizen attitudes and local community experiences and present these to local decision makers and communities both in oral and written form.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 15 points at 100 level from POLS, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA, or
the Schedule V of the BCom.

Course Coordinator

Bronwyn Hayward


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Research essay 35% Literature review on a topic of your choice from 6 options
Field study 35% In 2021 we will be working in Christchurch city on a choice from 6 case study problems building from the lit review
Final Exam 30% Written exam choosing 2 questions from 6 options

Textbooks / Resources

There’s no set text for this course - a variety of journal articles are provided to get you started. Three key books you should try and read as a whole to think about urban politics in context:
• Bennett, B. W. et al 2014; Once in a Lifetime: city-building after disaster in Christchurch (Free range press); Christchurch
• Pickles, Katie 2017 Ruptures Bridget Williams Books, Wellington
• Melissa Matutinal Williams Panguru and the City Kainga Tahi, Kainga Rua: An Urban Migration History BWB Wellington


Please note that the restriction against POLS209 is no longer valid, and students may enrol in both courses.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $991.00

International fee $3,706.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All POLS216 Occurrences

  • POLS216-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021