Exam-style Questions: Urban Profiles

  1. a) Why is rapid urbanisation a feature of most countries in the developing world?

    (8 marks)

    b) What are the consequences for the urban area of such rapid urbanisation?

    (12 marks)

    (Marks available: 20)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 1

    a) A good answer here will identify two factors:

    Firstly a strong candidate will talk about the population growth that these countries are experiencing and make reference to the demographic transition model, birth rates, death rates and natural change.

    Secondly he/she would go on to fully explore the processes of rural to urban migration with specific reference to case studies.

    Both of these should be clearly linked to the processes of development.

    b) Consequences of rapid urbanisation:

    A poor answer will talk very generally about just a few factors with little or no reference to any specific case studies.

    A good answer will however examine the consequences, in detail, on the economy, environment and society of the urban area. He/ she will make specific reference to one or a number of case studies.

    Factors that could be include:

    • Collapsing infrastructure
    • Increasing levels of pollution
    • A polluted water supply
    • Inadequate housing and services.
    • A lack of employment
    • Under-employment
    • Increased risk of disease raising death rates including infant mortality

    Each of these should be expanded with specific reference to your case study / studies.

    A very good answer might even consider the positive aspects of urbanisation in the developing world such as the vibrant informal economy and the abundant supply of labour.

    (Marks available: 20)

  2. a) What do you understand by the term 'counter-urbanisation'?

    (3 marks)

    b) Why is counter-urbanisation a feature of most developed world countries?

    (5 marks)

    c) For an area you have studied examine the consequences of counter-urbanisation on rural villages.

    (8 marks)

    (Marks available: 16)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 2

    a) A definition is required. The question is worth 3 marks so you need a detailed definition. This would suffice...

    "Counter-urbanisation" is the process by which people and businesses are leaving the urban areas to relocate in smaller towns or rural villages.

    It was first noted in the USA. Similar patterns were detected in London in the 1950's initially as a result of slum clearance and relocation to New Towns but then as a 'voluntary' movement. This pattern has since been identified in nearly all UK cities. It has significant implications for the environments, economies and societies of both the urban area people are leaving and the rural areas they are moving to.

    b) Show that you know the reasons for counter-urbanisation. This question is worth 5 marks so you can't explore every reason but if you discussed 3 from this list you would have every chance of top marks...

    • Environmental and social problems with inner cities pushed people away from urban areas. At the same time more rural areas were being viewed in a very positive light.
    • The growing popularity of the 'out-of-town' industrial and businesses parks as industry also became unsatisfied with inner city areas.
    • Improvements in rural transport infrastructures and increased car ownership
    • The growth in Information Communication Technology (E-mail, Fax, Video-conferencing) has allowed further freedom as people can work from home and are not so tied to urban areas.
    • People move for social reasons to be re-acquainted with family or friends; retire to a quiet place; believe the countryside to be more suitable for families or decide the climate/ environment is better for their health. All of these are quoted as reasons for moving from urban areas to Cornwall.

    c) 8 marks here so allow yourself about 16 minutes.

    To get a good grade on this question you need to explore the effects of counter-urbanisation on the commuter' villages or 'dormitory towns'.

    Make sure you have looked at economic, social and environmental factors and refer specifically to your case study.

    Some consequences you could discuss include:

    • House prices being pushed up by migrants
    • Public transport going into decline
    • Traditional rural services starting to close
    • Shops and services that survive often find that they have to change to meet the needs of the new population.
    • As a large percentage of the migrants will be commuting to work traffic congestion increases both in the villages and route into urban areas
    • Increased demand for housing in valuable greenbelt and other countryside areas

    (Marks available: 16)

  3. For an area of urban regeneration...

    (i) Identify the reasons for its initial decline.

    (5 marks)

    (ii) Discuss and evaluate the solutions.

    (10 marks)

    (Marks available: 15)


    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 3

    You need to have good knowledge of an urban regeneration case study. There is a Bristol one on the site if you need it.

    (i) Allow about ten minutes to answer. Always refer to your particular case study. Here is a list of reasons that you might discuss

    • Closure of older heavy industries as a consequence of overseas competition
    • Decentralisation of industry to 'out of town' locations
    • Closure of city docks because larger ships can no longer navigate the rivers
    • Inner cities go into a cycle of decline as new investor look elsewhere

    If you fully discussed two or three of these factors you would get 4 - 5 marks.

    (ii) You would get up to 5 marks for discussing the solutions that the authorities attempted and another 5 for evaluating those solutions.

    Using the Bristol case study you would have to talk about 'The Bristol Urban Development Corporation' and 'The Harbour-side developments'. Explain what each attempted to do then evaluate their level of success.

    When evaluating it is always worth thinking about the effects on the economy, environment and society.

    For example: we could evaluate Bristol's Urban Development Corporation' using the following titles;


    • Environment - rehabilitation of derelict dockland areas
    • Economy - provided over 4000 new jobs
    • Society - new housing at an affordable cost


    • Environment - greater focus on road networks than environmental concerns
    • Economy - Unemployment rose considerably in the area following recession
    • Society - New jobs were low paid and unskilled. Opinions of local people were ignored

    For the Bristol case study, you would also have to evaluate the more recent Harbour-side redevelopments.

    (Marks available: 15)