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Imagining the City


Admission requirements

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


The course is divided in twelve lectures for all students, and four small-scale tutorial work groups. The divison between the two is that in the lectures concepts are introduced in relation to theories on the basis of works of art. In the work groups students are putting the concepts into practice.

In the lectures we consider how the city is made sense of, both in terms of sensitivity and sensibility. Our study is divided in three blocks:

  • 1) Tropes. Cities have been read, or considered, or designed on the basis of powerful figures of speech: the city as a body politic, as a node in a network, as a utopian space or dystopian one, as jungle or garden, as a palimpsest or labyrinth. What implications do these tropes have for the vectorization of people’s sensibilities?

  • 2) Media. The medium of architecture is space: the shaping of space. How does this medium relate to other media? The city is on the one hand the space in which media find a place, where they come to appear, for instance when theaters, circuses, stadiums, cinemas, studios, or newspapers offices are built. At the same time city spaces themselves appear in media representations; they are often imagined before they become real. All media (literature, newspaper, photography, radio, cinema, social media) have their own specific way of relating to the city and vectorizing sensibilities.

  • 3) Genres. Cities appear in ‘texts’ – linguistic, visual, acoustic. All these texts follow the logic of a specific genre. Yet it is also possible to consider the city itself as a ‘text’, that we can read and make sense of. Here genres, forms of organisation, play a dominant role as well. What does it mean, for instance to conceive of the city as a narrative, a poem, or a play?

The four work group sessions build up towards sensing and defining an urban issue in terms of tropes, media or genre on the basis of a research question. The build up is as follows:

  • 1) Students will first bring in their own cases on the basis of the material dealt with in class and in the theoretical texts.

  • 2) Students are asked and helped to formulate a research question that is relevant, of interest, and embedded in an ongoing scholarly debate.

On the basis of the research question, students collectively work together to do a poster presentation in which a research question is introduced, contextualized, and defended.

Course objectives

Course objectives, pertaining to this course

At the end of the course, the student can:

  • 1) assess how the realities in cities have been captured and influenced by artistic imaginations, in different media, in different times, on the basis of different tropes.

  • 2) see the consequences of formal characteristics of different artistic media by means of which the city has been imagined.

  • 3) interpret and ‘read’ the city for its different meanings – both in terms of the representations of cities, and in terms of how cities themselves appear as a distinct form of text.

  • 4) choose a distinct approach to the city, focusing on one aspect of the city in relation to other aspects.

  • 5) distinguish the different forms of culture that are dynamically related in and through the city


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Tutorial (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have 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. If they are absent from a tutorial without a valid reason, they can be excluded from the final exam in the course.

Assessment method


  • Participation during tutorials
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1-2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 13-15, 19-24, 26
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-5

  • Midterm exam
    Take home exam consisting of group assignment
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1-2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 13-15, 19-22, 26
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-5

  • Final exam
    Written examination: case studies, close readings and theories
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1-2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 13-15, 19-22, 26
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-5


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorial grade 10
Group assignment 40
Final Exam 50

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 assessment components.

  • Please note that if the final exam is lower than 5.50, you will not pass the course, regardless of the grade for the other assessment components.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the final exam grade is lower than 5.50, there is a possibility of retaking the final exam, replacing the previous final exam grade. No resit for the tutorial grade and/or midterm exam is possible.

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


  • 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