London, United Kingdom

Public Art, Graffiti and the Right to the City

when 20 July 2020 - 7 August 2020
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 EC
fee GBP 2100

The 2020 UCL Summer School has been cancelled due to the spread of Covid-19.

This module is an introduction to creativity and crime in cities, with a focus on graffiti, street art and other types of public surface communications. Throughout the three weeks, the module will introduce concepts and methods that enable us to understand contemporary urban environments, as they are shaped through architecture, creativity and the maintenance of order. We will examine different visual languages from graffiti to public art and hostile architecture, to understand who uses and produces the city, and who urban spaces belong to.

The module will start with an overview of contemporary urban theories and introduce an international history of graffiti and street art, to examine how these practices produce conversations about publicness and privacy, art and crime, transgression and the law. Students will be taken on journeys across the city and will debate the role of graffiti in claiming and shaping public spaces, within a context of a rapidly developing and increasingly exclusionary London.

Course leader

Sabina Andron is a London-based architectural historian and urban scholar. Her research interests focus on the right to the city, urban surface inscriptions and materialities, crime and transgression, and urban semiotics. She completed her PhD in 2018 at

Target group

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Course aim

This module aims to provide a multidisciplinary reading of contemporary urban environments through political
expressions such as graffiti and street art. The module will examine the role of these practices to interrogate
visibility and belonging in cities, and to develop a critical capacity to read contemporary urban cultures.

The module also aims to expand students’ knowledge and awareness of social, architectural and political
theories that underpin the management and research of urban environments, with a particular emphasis on
London. Who should decide what cities look like, and how do we negotiate this question?

Finally, the module aims to widen students’ understanding of London urbanism, culture and architecture by
examining the displays on its surfaces. Students will learn to interpret these through writing and photography,
and will be encouraged to formulate their own stances in relation to contemporary urban phenomena.

Credits info

7.5 EC
7.5 ECTS / 4 US / 15 UCL

Fee info

GBP 2100: The tuition fee for this module is £2100. Students who enroll on both Sessions of the UCL Summer School will benefit from a built-in tuition fee discount.
GBP 1100: There is an option to stay at the UCL Summer School residence for the duration of the three-week course. Accommodation is within walking distance to the UCL campus and features private, en suite rooms with shared kitchens. The cost is approx. £1100 per three-week session.