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Sustainability, Power and Place


Admission requirements

Sustainability, Power and Place is an elective course which is part of the master Governance of Sustainability specialization courses .
Other students who are interested in following this course, should contact their own study advisor or the Board of Examiners of their programme for permission.

The course is open to other MSc students, however MSc Governance of Sustainability student will have priority over other student to participate in this course.
Non-GoS Master students who would like to join are expected to be somewhat familiar with sustainability topics and governance questions.


‘Sustainability’ is often used as a buzzword that overlooks or even reproduces unequal power structures. These power structures are expressed through spatial dynamics and specific locations. The course Sustainability, power and place focuses on sustainability-related power issues in terms of uneven spatial developments and associated struggles, such as local protests and NIMBY-ism, green gentrification, resource extraction and waste export. This course provides students with analytical tools to critically explain uneven socio-spatial relations in various sustainability domains, including food, waste, energy and water.

Furthermore, we explore different theoretical perspectives to understand complex socio-ecological problems and how to tackle them through place-making and scalar governance strategies. Here, the course zooms in on relations between spatial-physical processes and institutional scales (with political and administrative boundaries). Students will work on specific sustainability cases to analyse, reflect on and creatively discuss environmentally just spatial strategies.

Course objectives

After this course students will be able to:

  • Explain and compare how different conceptual approaches frame socio-ecological problems in terms of power and space;

  • Explain how socio-spatial developments and struggles relate to institutional scales and sustainability governance;

  • Analyse specific sustainability challenges in terms of socio-spatial developments and inequalities;

  • Use and produce counter-maps as a visual tool to understand and represent context-specific, socioenvironmental problems;

  • Design and discuss environmentally just strategies to address socio-spatial inequalities, adopting scalar and place-based approaches;

  • Discuss socioenvironmental just strategies to address socio-spatial inequalities, adopting scalar and place-based approaches;

  • Report comprehensively, convincingly and critically;

  • Demonstrate skills working collaboratively with peers and planning.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have successfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The lectures and tutorials will mostly be interactive, linking conceptual insights to hands-on exercises and group discussions.

  • Contact hours: 26 h (12 hours tutorials, 12 hours lectures, 2 hours final symposium)

  • Self-study: 62 h

  • Group work (including field-work): 80 h

Assessment method

The course will be graded based on three assignments:

  • A research paper written in pairs (50%). It tests critical reflection on the conceptualisations of place and power offered in the lectures.

  • Two group work assignments (50%). This consists of a visual map-making process (30%), in which students creatively represent a socio-spatial challenge as a communicative tool stimulating change. In addition, groups create a podcast episode (20%), telling the socio-spatial story of their map.

The final grade is a weighted average of the three assignments. To pass the course a minimum grade of 5.5 should be achieved for each item.
In case of a grade lower than 5.5 for any of the assignments, students have one chance to resubmit the item within 5 weeks after the original deadline.

All the items need to be submitted within the deadline. Items submitted after the deadline will not be graded.

Reading list

See Brightspace.


Students can register themselves via MyStudymap for each course, exam and retake. Do this on time, before the start of the course. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in. Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in MyStudymap you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

After registering for an exam, you must confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. Without this confirmation, you are not allowed to participate in the exam or retake of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.

Furthermore, there are two registration periods per year:
First semester / fall semester: opens in July
Second semester / spring semester: opens in December

More information about course and exam enrolment can be found here


Coordinator(s): Antonella Maiello and Shivant Jhagroe

Antonella Maiello Shivant Jhagroe


Amount of spots for students in this elective
Minimum: 5 students*
Maximum: 30 students
*this minimum has to be reached for this elective course to be able to start.