Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


As the world becomes increasingly urbanised and the hinterland more remote from urban centres, the threat to wilderness is intensifying. Sprawling suburban areas are providing challenges for planners, developers, ecologists and architects as well as for the communities who reside there. Solutions for the curtailment of metropolitan spread point frequently to the densifying of urban centres and infilling of inner suburban zones. How might architects respond to the various issues and imperatives associated with the often conflicting desires for and impacts of suburban living? What are the social, cultural, economic, spatial and material qualities of suburban landscapes that appeal to and attract large sections of the population? Are they sustainable? Should they be preserved? What future development trajectories or scenarios might we imagine and implement?

As a way of addressing these complex questions confronting all developed and developing countries, this unit explores the evolution over the last two centuries of suburban cultures and landscapes around the globe. It studies the factors that gave rise to suburban ideals, patterns, practices and lifestyles as they have either changed or persisted over time. Australia's suburban culture and development provide a main focus. Themes of utopianism and pastoralism, speculation and mass production, sustainability and resilience, among others, are studied as a means of understanding the characteristics, opportunities and limitations of the liminal in-between realm of the suburb. Theorists, critics, architects and artists from Australia and overseas provide the intellectual armature for enquiry and evaluation.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the historical, theoretical and social contexts underlying and informing the evolution of suburban living, space and design around the world; (2) analyse and describe the particular characteristics and qualities of suburban space and form within contemporary cities in Australia and across the globe; (3) identify and articulate the major challenges confronting future suburban development and design; and (4) demonstrate attitudes and skills with which to make informed and appropriate interventions within existing and future suburban realms.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a group project comprising a seminar presentation (20 to 30 minutes), short paper (1000 words) and accompanying A1 poster designed to extend and amplify the issues arising in the unit and requiring the critical analysis of a historical suburban project and (2) a major illustrated essay (4000 words) exploring an aspect of suburban culture, selected from a list of topics or devised by the student in consultation with the coordinator. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Kate Hislop
Contact hours
seminars: 3 hours per week for up to 12 weeks
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.