Community Work in Urban Transformation

Course - second cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2021, autumn 2020, autumn 2019

Course Code:
US655E revision 3
Swedish name:
Lokal områdesutveckling i urbana förändringsprocesser
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
23 October 2018
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
02 September 2019
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
28 February 2017

Entry requirements

Bachelor's degree, consisting of 180 credits. The equivalent of English B/ English 6 in Swedish secondary school.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course is included in the two-year Master's programme Urban Studies and can also be given as an independent course.


The purpose of this course is for the student to develop critical and constructive understanding of community work in urban transformation. The student will develop the ability to analyze and critically reflect on the conditions of community development, citizen participation, empowerment and social mobilization in urban transformation.


The course has two parts, one theoretical and one applied. The applied part is the design of several processes of urban transformation. The theoretical part is an arena for on-going reflections over challenges related to the applied part. The course as whole covers the following themes:

  • the role of community work in sustainable urban development
  • conditions for empowerment, participation and organization of citizens
  • conducting a participatory design process with stakeholders on a community level
  • management of community work initiatives involving multiple stakeholders
  • networks in design, implementation and governance of community work initiatives

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
After completing this course the student will demonstrate:
1. knowledge of theoretical perspectives on community work with special emphasis on participation, empowerment, social mobilization and urban transformation
2. an understanding of how processes in design, development and subsequent governance shape outcomes of community work
3. knowledge of potentials and limitations of urban development projects from a sustainability and community perspective
Competence and skills
After completing this course the student will be able to:
4. conduct and present a participatory design process, in collaboration with local stakeholders, and with a special emphasis on participation, empowerment and social mobilization
5. critically evaluate the design and management of community work initiatives with a special emphasis on participation, empowerment and social mobilization
Judgement and approach
After completing this course the student will:
6. be able to reflect independently on various aspects of community work with respect to their impact on the ability for citizens to take active part in processes of urban transformation and social mobilisation.

Learning activities

Learning activities in the course consist of lectures, workshops, group work, seminars and presentations. A central part of the course is developing input to an urban development project in collaboration with a governmental organization, private company or NGO and providing constructive critique of other students' work.
Mandatory seminars on literature comprise approximately 15 hours (4 - 6 seminars). Mandatory presentations and discussion of project proposals comprise approximately 25 hours.


Student work is assessed based on three forms of examination:

  • Three written assignments account for 6 credits. The student should demonstrate the ability to critically and constructively understand the conditions of community work in relation to processes of urban transformation with a particular emphasis on participation, empowerment and social mobilization. Students must demonstrate knowledge corresponding to learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 6 (Grading scale: Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U))
  • An assignment corresponding to 5 credits where students will create a design process to strengthen sustainable community development. As part of the assignment, students will also provide constructive critique of their peers’ work. Students must demonstrate skills in this assignment corresponding to learning outcomes , 2 4 and 6 (Grading scale: U-fail/G-pass)
  • A theoretical analysis of problems and/or challenges that the design process seeks to address and arguments supporting the proposed design. This assignment comprises 4 credits. Students must demonstrate skills and knowledge that correspond to learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. (Grading scale: Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U))

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Most of the course literature consists of articles from scientific journals and case materials that will be made available either through the university library or provided by the teachers. The following books are also required:
  • Alinsky, S. (1989). Reveille for Radicals. Random House, New York.
  • Blackshaw, T. (2009). Key Concepts in Community Studies. Sage Publications.
  • Delanty, G. (2010) Key ideas: Community. Second edition Routledge: London and New York.
  • Larsen, A. K., Sewpaul, V. & Hole, G. O. (eds.). (2014). Participation in Community Work. International perspectives. Routledge, London and New York.

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).

Interim rules

If a course is no longer offered or has undergone major changes, students will be offered two re-take sessions based on the syllabus in force at registration during a period of one year from the date of the implementation of the changes.