London – a world city

Key stage 5 Geography

Enquiry question: Is London a city for people or for profit?

Learning objectives

Knowledge and understanding

The rapid growth of financial services has led to London’s reinvention as a world city

London’s status as a world city is reflected in new architecture and growing inequality

The increase of the ‘super-rich’ in London is leading to gentrification

One of the main aims of regeneration in east London is to bring about convergence

Geographical skills

Urban field-sketching +/or photography

Ethnic/gender representation survey

Wealth/poverty mapping

Gentrification questionnaire

Housing affordability survey

Partnership/conflict matrix

Learning outcomes

Most students will be able to:

Identify visual evidence of London’s many functions as a city

Annotate a sketch/photo to highlight changes in function and architecture

Compare London population data with ethnic representation in the Square Mile

Select indicators of wealth and poverty and map them along a transect

Use a questionnaire to find peoples’ experiences of gentrification

Investigate cost of housing in east London to calculate affordability

Draw conclusions about the impacts of London’s status as a world city

Pre-visit recommendation

Students should:

Have background knowledge of the concept of a world city

Be familiar with a map of London and the locations they will visit

Use Booth’s Poverty Map of London to consider how they could map wealth and poverty today


Meet at Tower Hill station. Explain that during the day we will travel from the centre of London, eastwards to the Olympic Park to consider whether London’s status as a world city makes it a city for people or for profit.


None required


Location 1: Tower Bridge. Walk to Tower Bridge. Point out features that exemplify London’s past and present functions. What do students consider to be London’s major function now? How is this reflected in the skyline? Students draw panoramic sketch/take photos of London skyline. They annotate changes in London’s functions and architecture.

Location 2: Royal Exchange. Walk or take tube from Tower Hill to Bank. Visit Royal Exchange. It represents one of the original functions of the city (trade) and is now a space for luxury brands and restaurants. Inside or outside, students count men in suits to quantify the representation of black/Asian men. Compare this with black/Asian representation in London’s population. (Point out other groups, less easy to identify, may also be under or over-represented eg working class)

Location 3: Liverpool Street/Spitalfields. Take tube from Bank to Liverpool Street station.

Point out to students this zone marks the edge of City. There is a sharp divide between wealth and poverty, but also a process of gentrification. Ask students how they would map wealth and poverty today as Booth did in 19th century. They choose one or two suitable methods from the resource sheets. Then, working in groups, they use their ideas to rate levels of wealth and poverty along a transect, west to east, across Spitalfields. Each group works in one square on the transect. Share the groups’ results to complete a new wealth/poverty map. How does wealth and poverty change along the transect? What is the evidence of gentrification?

Location 4: Stratford. Take train from Liverpool Street to Stratford. From the town centre bridge, point out to students evidence of regeneration in Stratford – Westfield, Olympic Park. Explain that the aim of regeneration is to bring about convergence – to bring living standards in east London up to the London average.

Walk through Stratford Centre to the Broadway. Students visit estate agents to investigate the cost of housing and calculate affordability for different levels of income.


Location 1
Sheet 1: London's functions

Sheet 2: London skyline

Location 2
Sheet 3: Men in suits

Location 3
Sheet 4: Mapping wealth and poverty

Sheet 5: Measuring deprivation – quality of life

Sheet 6: Measuring deprivation – shops and services

Sheet 7: Measuring deprivation – housing density

Sheet 8: Spitalfields transect

Location 4
Sheet 9: Housing affordability survey


Students review their experiences from the day, trying to draw links between them. What impact does London’s world city status have on the city skyline? What about the impact on areas outside the city centre, and further east in Stratford? Can the drive for profit be met at the same time as peoples’ needs?


Sheet 10: London - a world city