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Elective Sustainable City: 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. A proper understanding of biodiversity in cities is needed to optimize diversity and profit as much as possible from its natural values and ecosystem services. Such an understanding is a prerequisite for nature-inclusive design.

In this course we will introduce these aspects through an ecological lens:

  • how the interrelationships between biotic (elements native and introduced plants and animals, as well as humans) and abiotic elements (buildings, pavements, walls, soils, water, climate etc.) shape urban ecosystem and their interaction through;

  • how evolution drives major ecological processes within the urban system;

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

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

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 this course

The student has acquired:

1) Deepening knowledge on urban landscapes, biodiversity, ecology and evolution;
2) Understanding of biodiversity monitoring, data, and identification;
3) Understanding of nature-inclusive urban design and nature-based solutions.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

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 essay
    Individual essay on course books.

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

  • Writing assignment
    Investigative journalism group assignment.


Partial grade Weighing
Group assignment 30
Mid term exam 35
Final exam 35

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

  • Menno Schilthuizen - Darwin comes to town

  • Jacques Vink, Piet Vollaard, Niels de Zwarte - Making Urban Nature



  • 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


This thematic elective will allow you to follow the Thesis Seminar: Sustainable City, if you meet the other entry requirements for the thesis as well.

You may only sign up for one thematic and one methodological elective in each semester of the second year (via MyStudyMap). Only if there is place left, you can take up a second Thematic and/or Methodological elective. A week before the start of the semester, you will receive an email from the administration which will indicate if any spots are still available. If this is the case, you can enroll by replying to this message. If more students show interest in a second elective than the number of places available, students will be selected via a lottery.