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Biodiversity in the City


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA Urban Studies programme.


Biodiversity is the diversity of life on earth and one of the most important resources for human society. Habitat destruction by agriculture and urbanization is the major cause of decline of biodiversity nowadays worldwide. An increasing part of Earth’s terrestrial surface is becoming urbanized, making it also increasingly important to look, besides the negative effects of urbanization on biodiversity, into the chances for biodiversity and novel ecosystems and the importance of biodiversity for the urban society through its ecosystem services.

In this course we will introduce these aspects through ecological “glasses”, so studying:

  • the interrelationships between biotic (native and introduced plants and animals, as well as humans) elements themselves, between biotic and abiotic (buildings, pavements, walls, soils, water, climate etc.) elements and the major ecological processes within the urban ecosystem (e.g. nutrient cycles and evolution);

  • how to manage all these elements to get an optimal green urban environment for both biodiversity and society.

A proper understanding of biodiversity in the urban areas is needed to optimize diversity and profit as much as possible from its natural values and ecosystem services. An adequate management include attention to existing values, green corridors, green walls and roofs, nature inclusive building, proper spatial planning and management (mowing etc.) and good (psychological) communication with companies and public.

Teaching materials and methods includes short lectures, field excursions in The Hague, reading books and articles, assignments including some field work.

This is the Sustainable City Thematic Elective.

Course objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) Deepening knowledge on urban landscapes, biodiversity, ecology and evolution

  • 2) Basic skills a.o. biodiversity identification, monitoring and data

  • 3) Basic building blocks solutions e.g. : green services, psychology, building with nature


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • 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.

  • Excursion

Assessment method


  • Mid-term exam
    Written exam consisting of short open questions and closed questions (e.g. multiple choice)

  • Final exam
    Written exam consisting of short open questions and closed questions (e.g. multiple choice)

  • Abstract and oral presentation


Partial grade Weighing
Work group grade: abstract and presentation 40
Mid term exam 30
Final exam 30

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 work group grade, midterm exam grade, and final exam 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 work group grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the final exam grade is lower than 5,50, there is a possibility of retaking the written examination material, replacing the previous exam grade(s). No resit for the work group grade is possible.

Faculty regulations concerning participation in resits are listed in article 4.1 of the Faculty Course and Examination Regulations.

Exam review

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

  • Vink. J. et al, 2017, Making urban nature/Stadsnatuur maken, nai010 uitgeverij, Rotterdam

  • Schilthuizen, M., Darwin comes to town

The additional reading list for the course will be contained in the course syllabus which will be posted on Brightspace before the start of the course.


Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 14 December:

  1. On 14 December you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
  2. Indicate there which Thematic Elective (Biodiversity in the City or Population Health Management and Health Behaviour Change) has your preference, and your reasons for this preference.
  3. Based on preferences indicated by 30 December the Coordinator of Studies will assign you to a specific Thematic Elective by 20 January.
  4. Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
  5. All students are required to enroll for their group in Brightspace to access all course information.
  6. Students cannot register in uSis for the Thematic Elective, or be allowed into a Thematic Elective in any other way.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


W.L.M. Tamis


Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis.