Part 2. Changing Urban Systems

Conceptual Understanding:

Key Question:

How do economic and demographic processes bring change over time to urban systems?

Key Content:

  1. Urbanization & natural increase & centripetal population movement, including;
  • rural–urban migration in industrializing cities
  • inner city gentrification in post-industrial cities

2. Centrifugal population movements, including;

  • suburbanization
  • counter-urbanization

3. Urban system growth including infrastructure improvements over time, such as transport, sanitation, water, waste disposal and telecommunications

  • Case study of infrastructure growth over time in one city

​4. The causes of urban deindustrialization and its economic, social and demographic consequences

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Urbanisation and Natural Increase…

Urbanisation is perhaps one of the most important geographic processes at work today. Back in 2008, a tipping point was reached. For the first time in human history, more people lived in urban areas than in rural areas. You have previously studied the impacts of the growth of mega cities (over 10 million inhabitants) and have seen first hand some of the issues that are caused by the swelling of urban areas. In Vancouver, Toronto and other cities around the world, that is best seen with the traffic congestion and relentless building on the green belt to keep pace with the additional arrivals into the city every year.

Urbanisation is defined as the “proportion of people living in built environments such as towns and cities”. The word proportion in this definition is very important, because it indicates that we must judge urbanisation by looking at both the numbers of people living in both rural AND urban areas. (source: coolgeography) 

Task 1. This is a recap for you. Watch the following TED ED video and then answer the questions below.


1. In 3-4 sentences, discuss the importance of improvements in farming techniques to the development of cities.

2. Reliable food supplies allowed humans the luxury of free time, which provided the opportunity to produce items for trade. Describe how the production of goods contributed to the growth of cities.

3. Experts predict that global population will top out around 10 billion people, with 7 billion of those people living in cities. What are some of the opportunities and challenges that cities will face as the population increases?

4. What percentage of the human population lived in cities 100 years ago?
* 10%
* 20%
* 40%
* 80%
5. Which of the below technologies is a development that resulted from the desire to trade with neighboring communities?
* The plow
* Walled cities
* Roads
* Water Distribution

6. What led to the development of the first semi-permanent settlements?
* Changes in the global climate
* An increase in freshwater supplies
* Improvements in healthcare
* Advances in agriculture

Task 2. Study the graphic below. Pay attention to the key and the Y-axis. Using a copy of this graph, comment on the trends of urban growth from 1990 to 2030 (predicted). 


Download the press release below that provides the headline facts and figures from the UN World Urbanization Prospects 2018 report.

Task 3. Using a highlighter, extract the key data, paying particular attention to ‘Place’ & ‘Possibility’. 

Task 4. Make a note of the following information:

Urbanisation levels are affected by two key factors – Migration and Natural increase. We will cover migration elsewhere in the course but is worth noting the relevance of natural increase to the process of urbanisation before we go on any further. 

Natural Increase also has a major effect on rates of urbanisation.  During the initial urbanization phase natural increase in poorer parts of the world can increase as death rates fall in cities as people have;

·         Better access to medical care
·         Improved water supplies
·         Sanitary conditions
·         Improved wealth so improved food supply

Birth rates take longer to fall and indeed more babies survive as infant mortality falls in cities. Also, young people move to towns and cities, which also boosts the birth rate. These combined factors can fuel the rate of urbanisation.

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Inner city gentrification in post-industrial cities… 

The process of gentrification can have multiple perspectives based on a number of factors. Firstly, you need to understand what gentrification means. You should watch the first video below and then think of an example in your local city where this may be the case.

Starter. Gentrification Jigsaw

  1. Place the cut out photographs into the correct time-lapse sequence to show change over time. There are 4 different sequences each with 6 photos…
  2. What factors do you think lead to this change over time?

Task 1. Gentrification in Seoul and Paris

Watch the following videos and make notes on the causes and consequences of gentrification in Seoul and Paris.

Gentrification is Seoul
Gentrification in Paris

Task 2. Perspectives on Gentrification

Perspectives on gentrification can vary. Spend 15 minutes watching the two videos below and making notes on how attitudes vary between Berlin and New Jersey. 

Gentrification in Berlin
Gentrification in New Jersey

March Break Work 2023

Suburbanisation & Counter Urbanisation…

A centrifugal movement is a movement of people away from a centre as a result of push and pull factors. 


Watch the following video up to 2.18 and idenitfy:

  1. The type of person that wanted to leave the city
  2. The reasons for their out migration

Main Activity: Suburbanisation Speed Dating!

1. Read the suburbanisation profiles and create a character card for the three people that you have been assigned from the information provided. Use this template to make your profile. In addition to the location you should develop:

  • A name of the character
  • An age and gender
  • A job or type of work
  • Circumstances that have caused them to move to the suburbs

2. When everyone has completed their character cards you should study each character card and complete this worksheet with the key information.

3. At the end choose which suburbanite is most similar to you. Justify your choice at the bottom of the worksheet.

4. How are the causes of suburbanisation different in different places? Why is this?

March Break Work 2023

Rural to Urban Migration – Focus on China… 

A centripetal movement is a movement of people towards a centre and that includes both pull and push factors. 

Task 1. Use the evidence board below to create a one page summary sheet on piktochart/google slides/word doc that outlines the issues caused by rural to urban migration in Chinese cities. You should aim to include the following:

  • Place, Process (push & pull factors to migration), Power, Possibility
  • 2 maps
  • 2 graphs
  • 1 quote
  • Explanation of what Hukou is.

Tuesday 04 April 2023

Urban System Growth

Lesson Objectives:

  • To describe the patterns of urban system growth through infrastructure needs
  • To recognise that the rates of urban system growth don’t always keep pace with urbanization

Starter: Watch the following music video by Kaizer Chiefs and identify the types of infrastructural change both seen and unseen that comes with urban growth.

Infrastructure growth over time in Addis Ababa…

We are going to now investigate Ethiopia and look at the growth of its capital city over time. Addis Ababa is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa and is prospering with direct foreign investment (particularly from China) and technological revolution that the government hopes with help the country to break into the MIC category by the year 2025. 

Ethiopia is not a coastal country and understands the need to be connected to a port in order to facilitate the effective import and export of products and services. One recent Chinese funded operation has been the construction of the 600 KM Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway line (see second video below). 

You are aiming to be able to answer the following Paper 1 essay question:

Examine the patterns of urban infrastructure growth that have developed in one named city over time. [10 marks]

You are going to be focusing on the following factors that have influenced the growth of Addis Ababa:

  • Infrastructure
  • Transport
  • Water
  • Sanitation
  • Telecommunications

Task 1. Watch the three videos below to acquaint yourselves with the factors responsible for the growth of the city. Create a note taking frame using the five bullet points above as a starting point and leaving a space for the inclusion of one or more maps. 

Task 2. Use the links below to investigate the contribution of each of the five factors to urban growth.


Task 3. Finally, to put all of this in context, read this September 2018 article from CNN. This wraps up a lot of what you have learnt and provides you with further information as to how Addis Ababa has developed so quickly. Clearly, this hasn’t been done for free and as a gesture of goodwill. Make notes on the key parts of report that detail major projects and those associated costs. 

Homework: DUE: Thursday 06 April 2023

Complete the 10 mark essay question – Examine the patterns of urban infrastructure growth that have developed in one named city over time.”

  • You may use your notes, but try to complete it between 20-25 minutes. No longer.
  • See the images below for the general essay markscheme to help guide your response…

Wednesday 05 April 2023

Urban deindustrialization – Focus on Detroit…

Whilst industry is booming in many MICs and LICs asa result of outsourcing and significant Direct Foreign Investment, there have been cases of severe urban deindustrialization in other parts of the world, notably in major HIC manufacturing cities such as Sheffield, UK (Steel),  Glasgow, UK (ship building) and Detroit, USA (car manufacturing). For the purposes of this section of work, we will be focusing on the USA and the city of Detroit. 

You are aiming to be able to answer the following Paper 1 essay question:

“Examine the socio economic stresses resulting from deindustrialization in one or more urban areas.” [10 marks]

Task 1. Cycle of urban decline following deindustrialisation.

Complete the card sort activity which shows the cycle of urban decline following deindustrialisation.

Task 2. Case Study: Detroit

Watch the following videos and make notes on the causes and consequences of deindustrialisation in Detroit. Try to link the consequences to those in the diagram that you completed in task 1.

Homework: DUE: Thursday 06 April 2023

Complete the 10 mark essay question – “Examine the socio economic stresses resulting from deindustrialization in one or more urban areas.”

  • You may use your notes, but try to complete it between 20-25 minutes. No longer.
  • See the images from the previous lesson for the general essay markscheme to help guide your response…

Easter Homework: Complete the ‘Check Your Understanding’ questions on page 359.