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Urban Studies


Admission requirements

Required courses:

  • Global Challenges: Prosperity, or

  • Birth of the Modern World


What makes a place urban? This is a fascinating question on its own, and one that we will discuss in the course. Yet, it becomes even more interesting when we also consider that urbanization is an identifiable challenge globally. The United Nations estimates that about 67 percent of the world’s population will be living in an urban place by 2050. What challenges will accommodating so much of the global population in non-food producing spaces present?

In the introduction to their groundbreaking text City and Environment, Christopher G. Boone and Ali Modarres (2006, 1-2) succinctly establish the foundation for this course in urban studies when they identify how they view their object of study: “… cities are as much about the everyday life of their residents as they are about monuments.” Cities encapsulate within their geographic extent most elements of everyday human life from the home, to the market, to the workplace and spaces for leisure. Yet, within urban spaces nothing is simple. Cities are vastly complex, and thus captivating, entities to study from both a scholarly and popular perspective.

This course will provide merely a sampling of the various ways in which we can approach the city as scholars and will make attempts to look at the diversity of within and between cities on a global scale. Topics we will consider include urban morphology and theory, migration, public space, the environment and sustainability, rapid urbanization, and urban politics. The study of cities is inherently interdisciplinary and as a result we will be exploring scholarship from geography, history, sociology, along with other disciplines. This course is intended to be a broad introduction to the study of urban spaces.

Course Objectives


  • Student will apply theoretical concepts from readings and class discussions to their observations of the landscape of real cities. [Photo Blog; City Comparison Project; Walking Tour]

  • Student will write for a public audience on key themes in urban studies. [Walking Tour]

  • Students will improve online interaction and collaboration skills such as asynchronous chat and video meetings. [Participation; Photo Blog; City Comparison Project]


  • Students will compare and contrast historical and modern urban processes. [Participation; City Data Essay]

  • Students will investigate the variety of urban challenges globally. [City Comparison Project]

  • Students will be able to identify foundational concepts in the academic study of cities such as morphology, schools of urban theory, and more utopian ideas in planning. [Participation; Photo Blog; Walking Tour]


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught completely online with expectations of weekly individual and group engagement with readings, concepts, and other forms of instruction in addition to live sessions.

Assessment Method

Class participation 15%
City Data Essay 15%
Photo Journal 15%
City Comparison Project (group project) 15%
Walking Tour 40%

Reading list

The reading for the first week and similar relevant information will be emailed to the class the week before classes begin.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Sarah E. Hinman,