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Urban Studies Foundations


Admission requirements

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


This course is intended to be both an introduction to the history of the city and to the field of Urban Studies. In part I. Urban History students will follow a series of lectures and work groups on the history of the city. In part II. Urban Social Geography students will learn about important concepts in the field of Urban Studies.

Part I will address a variety of questions: What is a city? Why are cities important? How did cities develop? What are the most important political, economic and social functions of cities historically? Why do people live in cities? Why are cities important for explaining long term social-economic and cultural trends in history? This course gives an overview of the most important key variables that help to explicate and distinguish cities in world history: power and governance, socio-economic development, population and migration, culture, and environment.

Part II will address key questions, key thinkers and key trends in Urban Social Geography. Key concepts will help explain how cities play a crucial role in culture and identity, who has the most power to control cities, the impact of built environment on people in the city, and how cities are perceived as both dangerous places and places of diversity and opportunity.

Course objectives

The student is able to:

  • Identify key questions and topics regarding cities in world history (1500-present), as formulated in the handbook Cities in World History. These questions relate to: power and governance; socio-economic development; population and migration; culture; and environment.
    Test format: Written (questions in midterm and final examination)

  • Classify and recognize key concepts in Urban Social Geography, as formulated in the handbook Urban Social Geography. These concepts relate to: scientific approaches; economic growth; formation of cultures; social inequality and segregation; institutions; identity; and environment.
    Test format: Oral (debate in work group) and written (questions in midterm and final examination)

  • Summarize and reproduce the most important social, economic and cultural developments in the history of cities (1500-present). The developments relate to the above mentioned questions.
    Test format: Written (questions in midterm and final examination)

  • Apply the key concepts mentioned above in Urban Social Geography verbally in the work group.
    Test format: Oral (debate in work group) and written (questions in midterm and final examination)

  • Plan and schedule his/her study: organise and use relatively large amounts of information.
    Test format: Oral (debate in work group) and written (questions in midterm and final examination)


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


  • Midterm exam
    Written examination with closed questions and short open questions, based on the literature, the lectures and the work groups of the first period.

  • Final exam
    Written examination with closed questions and short open questions, based on the literature, the lectures and the work groups of the second period.


Partial grade Weighing
Midterm Exam 40%
Final Exam 40%
Tutorials 20%

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 the Midterm Exam grade, Final Exam grade, and Tutorial grade.

  • 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.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or if (one or two of) the exam grades are lower than 5.50, there is a possibility of retaking the written examination material, replacing the previous exam grade(s). No resit for the tutorial grade 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

  • Peter Clark (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History (Oxford University Press, 2013). Students have purchased this book before the first lecture of the course.

  • Paul Knox and Steven Pinch, Urban Social Geography. An Introduction (6th edition, 2010). Available online:


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

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration Exchange

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


  • 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