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Thesis seminar: Urban Studies


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA Urban Studies, who have obtained 100 EC of the Urban Studies programme, including two Methodological and two Thematic Electives.


The Thesis Seminar provides collective and individual supervision and feedback, by teaching staff and peers. The aim is to guide students through the process of designing an independent research project, developing research questions and appropriate research methodologies, collecting and analysing literature and writing a literature review, and collecting primary materials to form the basis of research and analysis.

Urban Studies Thesis Seminar: Built and Natural Environments in the City

This Thesis Seminar is centred around the general theme of the interaction between built and natural environments in the making of cities.

While the dominant approach to the study of cities has been focusing on their human actors (urban history, urban geography, sociology, anthropology, etc.) and built environment (architectural history, urban history), cities are also “natural” environments—from the rivers they were founded around, to the swamps whose reclamation were necessitated for their expansion, from the cemeteries that host variety of micro biodiversity to the constructed gardens and parks, from the animals that populate public and domestic spaces to the diverse microbiota in sewers, cities are diverse assemblages of human and nonhuman interactions. This is of course an analytical distinction and in reality, it is difficult to differentiate between what is built and what is natural: the water pumped through the pipes in a skyscraper is part of the urban nature, whereas a public park is a built environment, often replacing or drastically modifying a pre-existing natural ground.

This is why this seminar allows for a broad variety of thesis projects that are attuned to these interactions. What is expected from the students is not necessarily to work on conventional “environmental” themes (water, animals, plants, etc.) but rather to show a fundamental awareness of how urban environments are shaped and continuously depend on the interactions between built and natural. Students are able to develop thesis projects that intersect with any of the four themes (The Multicultural City, The Safe City, The Healthy City and The Sustainable City) by working within the overarching focus of the seminar.

Intellectually, this thesis seminar is interdisciplinary (working within the built and natural environments topic). Methodologically, this is a Humanities thesis seminar.

This means that student projects will deploy the critical, discursive, analytical and interpretive methods of the Humanities to conduct their research. Humanities research usually entails the analysis and interpretation of ‘texts’ (which can take many different forms – not only traditional written texts). Students who want to use the positivist research and data-gathering methods of social science and science should consider following a different thesis seminar, offered in semester 2.

Thesis Proposal

The Thesis Seminar culminates in a Thesis Proposal, which contains a problem definition and research question or hypothesis, theoretical and methodological considerations, a literature overview and a time frame for the thesis research. Completing the thesis seminar is compulsory for proceeding with writing the thesis.

Within the seminar and depending on the topic of the proposal, the thesis supervisors will be assigned to the students. All of the semester 1 supervisors have Humanities expertise, meaning that all students in the semester 1 seminar will be writing a thesis which is methodologically Humanities based.

The thesis proposal will need to be 1000 words long (excluding notes and bibliography). It needs position the project in time and place, and needs to reflect on:

  • The positioning of the thesis project in relation to recent scholarship (less than 10 years old)

  • The precise phrasing of the research question and the subquestions or case studies

  • Two or three key concepts that play a role in the research

  • The urban studies character of the project

  • The body of evidence that will be used

  • The ways in which that evidence will be assembled and studied

Course objectives

General learning outcomes

See tab Additional information for the overview of the programme's general learning outcomes. In the assessment methods below is outlined which general learning outcome will be tested through which method.

Course objectives, pertaining to the Thesis Seminar and Thesis

(1) has basic knowledge and understanding of state-of-the-art methods and techniques used in at least two of the following disciplines: Humanities, Social sciences, Sciences (general learning outcome 4).
2) is able to systematically search and select relevant literature (6);
3) is able to set up research with limited complexity within the interdisciplinary context of Urban Studies (10).
4) is able to formulate problems and (help) find solutions (15);
5) is able to assess (basic) research methods and research outcomes (16);
6) is able to judge his or her own research as well as the research of others (17);
7) uses feedback and reasoned criticism from peers to revise his/her own point oview or argumentation (24);
8) takes on board the instructions and criticism of supervisors, and takes previous instructions and criticism into account in comparable situations (25);
9) is able to make a realistic schedule and to stick to the agreed schedule and prioritisation (26).


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Tutorial (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is unable to attend a tutorial, 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


  • Weekly assignments

  • Presentation

  • Thesis proposal


Partial grade Weighing
Assignment 1 (introduction) 10%
Assignment 2 (thesis topic) 10%
Assignment 3 (methodology) 10%
Assignment 4 (literature review) 10%
Presentation 20%
Thesis Proposal 40%

End grade

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

  • The grade for the thesis proposal needs to be 6.0 or higher

  • Thesis proposal needs to be approved by the thesis supervisor


Students who have submitted a fully developed thesis proposal by the deadline can revise and resubmit their proposal if it is marked insufficient. There is no resit for the weekly assignments and the presentation.

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 organized.

Reading list

To be announced.


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


Registration through MyStudyMap is mandatory. Registering in MyStudyMap means placement on the waiting list of that specific Thesis Seminar. The Administration Office will check whether you meet the entry requirements and whether it is necessary for you to follow the semester 1 thesis seminar. In case you do not meet the requirements or your study planning indicates that it is possible for you to follow the semester 2 seminar, you will be contacted. You can only register for one Thesis Seminar.
You follow the thesis seminar in the semester in which you plan to write your thesis.