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AG2143 Sustainable Rural and Urban Development 7.5 credits

Two lines are intertwined in this course: interplay and interdependences between rural and urban areas with particular attention to the environmental issues; and, international development politics and strategies – considering the role of the so called developed and developing countries – beside the national and local level of influence.

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For course offering

Autumn 2024 Start 28 Oct 2024 programme students

Application code


Headings with content from the Course syllabus AG2143 (Autumn 2018–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The course applies an integrated approach of theoretical and practical knowledge on sustainable development on various levels of influence with a special focus on rural and urban development. It starts with a review of basic concepts, ideologies, approaches and conventions as well as agencies in relation to urbanisation and sustainability issues in a global perspective. A deeper understanding of the sustainable development problematic is achieved through familiarisation with crosscutting issues such as poverty, gender and citizens participation. This is followed by a critical analysis of development strategies and policies applied in various countries, highlighting their potentials as well as shortcomings.

The second step concerns discussion on various concepts, policies and strategies related to sustainable rural and urban development on national and local levels. The discussion shall include the nature of rural-urban linkages in addition to possibilities and hindrances towards sustainable urban and rural development, i.e. urban interface, urban agriculture, environmental burdens and disaster risk and resilience.

The course is organized around interactive exchanges by external experts, staff and students in focused discussion on international development policies and strategies and sustainable rural and urban development. This requires students to actively prepare in advance and take part in at least 75% of the lectures. In addition students are going to work on literature review (individual) and development project (groupwork), a project for change which is introduced in this course as a pedagogic tool to discuss both vertical and horizontal links engaged in global development strategies and how such strategies are interpreted into actions in local contexts, where the situational settings vary in line with socio-economic, political and environmental conditions as well as availability of natural resources and financial requirements. Literature semi­nar and plenums on development project are compulsory. Substantive literature review is a vital pre­condition in preparation for meaningful discussion in seminar and group work on the development projects.

Intended learning outcomes

Deepening the students’ knowledge and exploring opportunities in contributing to the field of sustainable rural and urban development within a global context

By the end of the course, students shall be able to:

  • define key concepts such as Urbanization, Rural-Urban Linkages, Urban Sprawl, Urban-Rural Planning, Urban Agriculture, Food Security, Enabling Development Strategy and Sustainable City;
  • Evaluate the rural-urban linkages in relation to socio-economic and environmental aspects of the sustainable development;
  • Explain types of contemporary natural disasters related to climate change and discuss the different challenges that society faces before, during and after a disaster in urban and rural settings;
  • Explain the complexity of a ‘city’ through analysing the interconnectedness of its socio-economic, environmental and political aspects and their influence on the urban living conditions.
  • Analyse the impacts of poverty, gender aspect and citizens participation on sustainable development.
  • Demonstrate through practical examples the urban/rural linkages and the diverse views of different actors from the built environment.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

A Bachelor’s degree in architecture or landscape architecture, civil engineering in the built environment or equivalent, urban and regional planning or social sciences including courses corresponding to a minimum of 30 ECTS credits in the field of urban, transport or regional planning and economics, geoinformatics or environmental sciences. In addition ** documented proficiency in English B or equivalent (TOEFL, IELTS e g).

Recommended prerequisites

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Students are to read selected articles, which may include some of the following literatures. Additional literature may also be provided for further reading.        

  • Dalal-Clayto, B., Dent, D. and Dubois, O. 2003: Rural Planning in Developing Countries: Supporting Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Livelihoods. iied. Earthscan Publications Ltd.
  • Satterthwaite, D (2005): The Scale of Urban Change Worldwide 1950-2000 and its underpinnings. International Institute for Environment and Development,
  • Tacoli, C. (2006). Rural-urban Linkages. Earthscan Pubns Ltd·        
  • Hassan, A-M and Zetter, R. 2002: pages (13-30). “Sustainable development: between development and environmental agendas in the developing world”. In Planning in Cities: Sustainability and Growth in the Developing World. R, Zetter and R, White (eds). ITDG Bell & Bain Limited.
  • Lehtola. M, Salmi, P, (2009) Beyond the Rural Urban Divide. Emerlad Group Publishing Limited
  • Carley M. and Spapens, P. (1998) Sharing the World – Sustainable Living and Global Equity in the 21st Century. Earthscan. London and Stirling
  • Agyeman, J, Bullard, RD and Evans, B. (2003). Joined-up Thinking: Bringing Together Sustainability, Environmental Justice and Equity. In Just sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World. J, Agyeman, RD, Bullard and B, Evans (eds). Earthscan. MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachussets.
  • Reed, D. (1996) Structural Adjustment, the Environment, and Sustainable Development. WWF and Earthscan Publications. London.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • LITA - Literature seminar, 4.5 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • PROA - Project assignment, 3.0 credits, grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

LIT1 - Literature Seminar, 4.5, grade scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

PRO1 - Project Paper, 3.0, grade scale: PASS/ FAIL

Other requirements for final grade

Project Paper (PRO1; 3,0 cr): Development Project paper (groupwork)

Literature Seminar (LIT1; 4.5 cr): Literature Seminar paper (individual work), performance and interaction during the course (individual work).

Attendance, minimum 75% of the course sessions. 

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course room in Canvas

Registered students find further information about the implementation of the course in the course room in Canvas. A link to the course room can be found under the tab Studies in the Personal menu at the start of the course.

Offered by

Main field of study

Built Environment

Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

AG2141 Urban Infrastructure


Lina Suleiman (

Supplementary information

Replace 1H1143.