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Learning in the city


Admission requirements

This course is mandatory for third year students of the Honours College FSW programme, Science & Society track.


The 'shared transferable skills’ predominantly covered in this course are shown in bold:

(Meta-)cognitive (Researching) Interpersonal (Collaborating) Intrapersonal (Reflecting)
Analysing Oral communication Independent learning
Generating solutions Written communication Resilience
Project-based working Presenting
Digital skills Societal awareness


During the course Learning in the city, you will learn to use your scientific skills and to apply theory to analyze and solve societal challenges within the city of Leiden. In an interdisciplinary team, you will learn more about the interaction between science and society, how to work with external stakeholders, how to conduct applied research, and how to translate research findings into impactful solutions to current societal challenges. This course is organised in collaboration with the platform Leren met de Stad ("Learning with the City").

These challenges can for example be related to reducing health problems among the elderly in disadvantaged neighborhoods, asking for help with financial problems and/ or poverty, improving (perceived) safety for women cycling at night, help citizens with lower social economic status to make their living environment more sustainable, or developing policy to get children to exercise.

The course consists of equal parts of studying theory, participating in fieldwork, and presenting findings to stakeholders (written and orally). Possible cooperating partners are: the municipality of Leiden, Incluzio, Buzz, SOL, and Leiden Police.

The class will be divided into three or four research groups and small subgroups within these research groups. Each group will work on a specific societal problem.

During the first weeks (20 hours) you will learn which types of research are relevant when you work on complex societal problems and challenges. We will look at methodological issues and discuss preconditions of interdisciplinary research in an applied context. You will also meet our societal partners from the city of Leiden and choose a topic.

During the next weeks (30 hours) your team will setup and conduct research to tackle the societal challenge/ problem, based on thorough analysis of the problem (e.g., interviews with stakeholders, observations) and relevant theory. During this fieldwork you will further develop your research-, analytical-, communication-, and collaboration skills.

After your fieldwork you will write a report and share your outcomes with relevant stakeholders, other members of the municipality of Leiden city, and your peers (34 hours). These outcomes can have various forms, for example: a tested intervention, a proposed intervention, an expert advice how to inform citizens, or and advice how to change policy measures.

In this course you will work together with your interdisciplinary subgroup and receive feedback from and give feedback to the students in other subgroups. You will also be guided by your research group supervisor.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • be able to analyze societal challenges and problems based on scientific theory;

  • be able to translate societal challenges and problems into effective interventions and policy;

  • be able to reflect on effective research skills and collaboration skills;

  • be able to reflect on working in an interdisciplinary context;

  • be able to present research outcomes to a broad audience; and

  • be able to reflect peer to peer.

Tentative timetable

Date Time Location
Friday 10-2-2023 15:00-17:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding, room SC01
Friday 3-3-2023 15:00-17:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding, room SC01
Fridag 24-3-2023 15:00-17:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding, room SC01


During the plenary and subgroup sessions, the English language is used.

Mode of instruction

This course is worth 3 ECTC, which means the total course load equals 84 hours:

  • Start: 1 plenary class meeting + preparation fieldwork in subgroups (20 hours)

  • Middle: 1 plenary class meeting + field research + meetings in research groups (30 hours)

  • End: analyzing data + writing report + meetings in research groups + presentation of the outcomes in 1 plenary class meeting (34 hours)

Participation in plenary class meetings and meetings in research groups is mandatory.

Assessment method

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • Assignment final group report

  • Assignment final group presentation for the municipality of Leiden

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.


You will be automatically registered for this course.


Coen Wirtz:
Janita Ravesloot: