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Admission requirements

Only the following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the BA programme “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University who have passed the Propedeuse

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students

  • Students who have been admitted to this course as part of their pre-master programme for the MA in CA-DS

Please see the registration procedure below.

Course Description

Cities is an introduction to the sociology and anthropology of cities. How are cities different from other types of places? What can we learn from a study of urban spaces and how can we go about studying them? Given that over half of the world’s population lives in urban centers, it is critical that we develop a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary perspective on urbanism.

The course focuses on various aspects of urban life, with a specific emphasis on space and place in the city. This entails looking carefully at the meanings of the built and the natural environment, and the dynamics of public and private space, while paying close attention to the socio-spatial construction of urban difference. Urban diversity – for instance in terms of ethnicity, class, gender and age – is central to analyzing how urban space is understood and created by different social actors. We discuss the role of different forms of sociability, including networks, associational life and place-based communities, in dividing or connecting city dwellers. In addition, we need to pay specific attention to the role of symbols, lifestyles and popular culture in shaping urban meaning.

We discuss the contemporary social problems and opportunities associated with urban economies and politics. What issues underlie urban problems such as poverty, environmental degradation, violence and crime, housing, informalization, unemployment, marginalization and segregation? How can different forms of urban governance – including urban planning and social movements – contribute to their solutions?

The course includes a variety of theoretical perspectives on the city, from the classic ‘urban ecology’ of the Chicago school to more recent postmodern approaches, while also considering the methodological and ethical challenges that doing research in cities can pose. Given the interdisciplinary nature of urban studies we include models and methods from related disciplines such as urban geography, philosophy and environmental psychology. Students will conduct two urban ethnographic exercises in which they can put these theories and methods into practice.

Course Objectives

Students participating in this course will:

  • develop an in-depth understanding of interdisciplinary urban studies theories and learn how to connect these theoretical insights to contemporary social, political and economic processes that take place in cities.

  • gain preliminary experience in doing urban ethnography and learn to reflect on related methodological and ethical issues.


Wednesdays 6 February to 17 April 2013, 10-13 h
Location: Room 1A22, Pieter de la Cour Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden

Mode of Instruction

  • Lectures 20hrs = 30 sbu

  • Group discussions 10u = 20 sbu

  • Literature 978 pp = 163 sbu

  • Papers 5000 words = 67 sbu

Assessment Method

  • Six reading assignments (500 words each) 60%

  • Flâneur assignment (1000 words) 20%

  • Urban observation assignment (1000 words) 20%


  • Bourgois, Philippe (2003). In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (351 pp.)

  • Bridge, G. and S. Watson (eds.) (2010) The Blackwell City Reader, second edition. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell (selected chapters).

  • Goldstein, D. M.: a choice between two books, ca. 230 pp:
    (2012). Outlawed: Between Security and Rights in a Bolivian City, Durham: Duke University Press
    (2004). The Spectacular City: Violence and Performance in Urban Bolivia. Durham: Duke University Press

  • Various articles.


  • Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply for the exchange programme.
    Only those exchange students whose admission to this particular course has already been approved, need to register for this course in Usis and on Blackboard.

  • BA studenten CA-OS van Universiteit Leiden:
    Inschrijving geschiedt via Usis, alleen voor “hoorcollege HC” en “tentamen TEN”. Bij problemen met Usis-inschrijving, raadpleeg de Usis-helpdesk van de FSW .
    Bij aanhoudende problemen, stuur een mailtje naar met het verzoek om je op de deelnemerslijst van de themamodule te zetten.

  • Pre-master students need to have completed their Admission procedure for the master CA-DS and to be formally admitted to the pre-master programme.


Dr. Rivke Jaffe or Secretariaat CA-OS