Universiteit Leiden

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Urban Studies (BA)

Study programme

The Urban Studies bachelor’s programme is based on 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

Participating 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 offer 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 do research and take literature seminars. Your focus will be on one of the four themes. If you wish to continue your academic career, you will also be able to

towards meeting the entry requirements of a specific master’s programme. To conclude the programme you will write an interdisciplinary thesis on the theme you have specialised in.

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? Contact the programme coordinator! 

Any questions?

Any questions about the programme? Feel free to contact the programme coordinator!

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