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Governance of Cities and Citizens


Admission requirements

This course is available for students in the BA Urban Studies programme and to a limited amount of external students.


How are contemporary cities governed? How do urban governments address increasingly ‘wicked problems’? How to manage, for instance, climate change in urban environments? And what role do citizens play? This course discusses key aspects and challenges of contemporary urban governance. The course begins addressing the scope, main themes and challenges of contemporary urban governance and why – as some scholars argue – the city has become increasingly complex and decentred. In order to provide focus, the course elucidates key notions of urban governance by thematically concentrating on the climate crisis.

The course first discusses the particular importance of cities and urban governance in addressing anthropogenic climate change (regarding causes and consequences). As such, cities have become key players with global challenges and responsibilities. Here, the course explains the rise of e.g. ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘resilient’ city discourses, and urban policy plans that pursue sustainable transitions. Second, the course highlights how local authorities throughout the world increasingly manage public issues – including the global climate crisis – in cooperation with other public and private actors (e.g. national and international governments, businesses, citizens organised in grassroot organisations and cooperatives). The course focusses on different types of urban governance, in which the role the state, citizens and businesses play different roles. Third, the course discusses normative aspects of urban climate governance and citizenship. Urban governance is connected to power and the struggle for hegemony. In the context of climate governance, different stakeholder (e.g. technocrats, multinationals, climate activists) strategically frame the agenda and the type of action cities need. The course discusses critical questions about who ‘owns’ the city, and about struggles for sustainable and just cities.

The course elaborates these topics with reference to the latest conceptual developments not only in urban studies and the humanities, but also in environmental governance and politics. In the tutorials, insights from the readings and lectures are further explored and discussed. A set of specialised guest lecturers complements the thematic focus of this course (i.e. on climate change) by addressing a variety of other topics and urban governance aspects.

Course objectives

The student is able to:

1) Identify key aspects and challenges of contemporary urban governance and citizenship, especially regarding climate change;
2) Characterise different modes of urban climate governance and the roles of state and non-state actors;
3) Reflect on the normative aspects underlying urban climate governance;
4) Apply conceptual insights to empirical urban climate governance issues;
5) Give and receive feedback in a constructive manner;
6) Report comprehensively, convincingly and critically;
7) Demonstrate skills working collaboratively with peers and planning.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Tutorials (mandatory)
    All students are expected to attend every tutorial session of the course. If a student is unable to attend a tutorial or lecture, they should inform the lecturer in advance, providing a valid reason for absence. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment.

Assessment method


  • Midterm exam (open questions)

  • Final paper

  • Memo guest lectures

  • Tutorial exercises


Partial grade Weighing
Midterm Exam 50
Final paper 40
Memo guest lectures 10
Tutorial exercises P/F

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assesment components.

  • The weighted average of the midterm exam grade and the final exam grade needs to be 5.50 or higher.

  • This means that failing exam grades cannot be compensated with a high tutorial grade. Failure to attend at least 3 out of 4 tutorials leads to a grade of 1 for the tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient, or the midterm exam grade or the final paper grade is lower than 5.50, there is a possibility to retake the midterm exam and/or the final paper. The deadline for resubmission of the final paper is to be consulted with the lecturer. There is no resit possible for the guest lecture memo.

Faculty regulations concerning participation in resits are listed in article 4.1 of the Faculty Course and Examination Regulations.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

To be announced.


  • Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

  • Students will be enrolled for Exams by the Administration Office, as long as they have a valid Tutorial enrolment.

  • General information about uSis is available on the website

The programme’s administration office will register all first year students for the first semester courses in uSis, the registration system of Leiden University.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Student Affairs Office for BA Urban Studies