Universiteit Leiden

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Urban Studies (BA)

Study programme

The Urban Studies bachelor’s programme is based on two learning trajectories. One is dedicated to knowledge related to urban issues, while the other focuses on a wide range of practical and academic skills.

Obtain knowledge on urban issues

In this bachelor’s programme, you will obtain knowledge related to our four key themes:

  • the sustainable city
  • the safe city
  • the multicultural city
  • the healthy city

Learn academic and professional skills

You will also be taught methodological and academic (professional) skills. These include a wide variety of competences such as writing, presentations, interview techniques, research, statistics, working in teams, communication. Many of those skills are highly sought after by employers and will be of use to you in your further career.

As a student in our programme, you choose one or more themes that particularly interest you, which guarantees focus. Subsequently, your methodology courses are directly related to your chosen themes.

Some of the courses in short

Cultural Diversity in Urban Contexts

The population of any city does not consist of one single group of people. It consists of many different groups that are distinguished by e.g. socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds, language, age, sex. Naturally, this superdiversity has an effect on life in the city, in many of its aspects. This course gives an overview of issues related to cultural diversity in the city. You will study this topic from comparative, historical and sociolinguistic perspectives. Among other things, you will learn to identify the key role that culture plays and how cultural and linguistic diversity affects societies at local, national and international level.

The Material City

This is the age of climate change, which has an effect on all of us and which also has an impact on cities. In this course you will focus on several sustainability issues. Tomorrow’s cities will increasingly need to reuse and recycle materials and be much more self-sufficient when it comes to the supply of energy and water. You will learn how to identify and describe aspects that include the main material elements of cities and cities’ environmental impact.

In year two you will deepen your knowledge by following lectures in the programme’s four themes: the sustainable city, the multicultural city, the safe city and the healthy city. Courses on all themes include individual and group assignments, where you gain hands-on experience of the issues involved. In two of the four themes you will take elective courses to deepen your understanding of these themes.

The Sustainable City

While their high population density make cities major users of resources, it also creates opportunities for innovation in sustainability. This theme focuses on the importance of sustainability, cities’ role in the circular economy, policies to fight urban pollution and waste, and the cultural and ecological changes taking place at urban level.

The Multicultural City

This theme investigates differences in culture, language, citizenship, religion, ethnicity, class, wealth and gender. It discusses how multicultural, multilingual cities like Rabat, Singapore, and Montreal develop, how they deal with their diversity, and how this affects the ways that people interact with one another.

The Safe City

This theme shows how cities can be both dangerous and safe at the same time. Highlighting contemporary debates about violence and crime, it covers a wide range of topics. Some of these are city governance, the police, street gangs, the rise of transnational crime and how crime is portrayed in art, culture and the media.

The Healthy City

The negative aspects of urbanisation, such as slums, poor sanitation and air pollution do not automatically translate into poorer health. Densely populated cities, for example, often offer the most accessible healthcare. This theme will help you understand relevant concepts and debates about urban wellbeing, welfare and health.

The first semester of the third year offers you the flexibility to pursue your interests. You can either follow electives or a minor from another programme, do an internship in the Netherlands or abroad, or study abroad at a university in our network. Our Career Service can support you in finding a position as an intern.

Our Outbound Student Coordinators can help you find the best option for you if you wish to study abroad. Leiden University has an extensive network, offering you a lot of opportunities!

In the second semester, you will follow a Literature Seminar. In Urban Studies in Practice you will work on a real-life-challenge and to conclude the programme, you will do research and write an interdisciplinary thesis on one of the themes you have specialised in. Examples of recent thesis titles are:

The sustainable city:

  • ‘Inclusive climate resilience in the city of The Hague’
  • ‘Role of income and ethnicity in urban green space accessibility: a qualitative case study of Moroccan and Turkish communities in The Hague’
  • ‘The influence of environmental education on sustainable behavior: a recommendation for Dutch schools’

The safe city:

  • ‘Social effects of community urbanism: A practical Approach to evaluating community gardens’
  • ‘French Far-Right Candidates and Their Negative Image of the City’
  • ‘Planned vs. Lived: An Analysis of the Planning Practices and Relations of Power Involved in Addis Ababa’s Integrated Housing Development Programme’

The multicultural city:

  • ‘Black Feminist Practices of Community Building as Reclamation of the Right to New Orleans Post-Katrina’
  • Regional identity beyond the national among Maghrebi immigrants: How football and demographics have shaped identity in Marseille in opposition to the French national identity
  • Residential and Socio-Spatial Segregation in Global Metropolises: Lessons on Multiculturalism from Vienna and New York

The healthy city:

  • ‘Elderly in the Car-Free City: Relation between Mobility, Stress and developments towards the Car-Free Model’
  • ‘Stress and Social Quality in the Urban Environment’

Detailed programme

See below for an overview of the curriculum. For a detailed description of the courses, please check the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may differ slightly.

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Any questions about the programme? Get in touch with the programme.

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