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Theory Seminar: Future Cities, Urban Pasts


Admission requirements

Participation in the Honours College Track Archaeology.


Current developments in urban computation have created a new vision for future cities. Online street views, sensors, geotagging, urban apps, and many other advancements are changing how we imagine and build urban environments. For instance, artificial intelligence and big data analysis have germinated novel concepts like smart cities.

However, we can also argue that technological innovation is a specific approach to cities. Digital urban life can indeed be beneficial. Yet, it is equally important to understand, for instance, how a smart city deals with the emergence and dissolution of cities.

Our aim, then, is to ask how rapid developments appear to us when we look at cities with a longer-term vision. After all, we have been living in cities for millennia. Some still stand against the test of time, hinting at the resiliency of the urban way of life.
Some cities failed for one reason or another. Overall, cities show great diversity all across the globe. Using archaeological knowledge, we can contribute to future cities and build even smarter cities.

Course set-up

Course set-up includes lectures (3 hours per week) and practical work (2 hours per week).
During class, we build a theoretical framework for the course. Guest lecturer(s) contribute and bring different perspectives. Groups make presentations on assigned topics.
As for the practical work, groups visit historical Leiden and map the city in various forms. Finally, students conduct projects concerning urban problems.

Course objectives

  • Understanding modern urban theories;

  • Highlighting key urban concepts relevant to the present and the past;

  • Exploring the ways we can utilise archaeological knowledge for building better cities.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and group presentations;

  • In-class activities;

  • Projects.

Assessment method

  • Group presentation and peer-reviews (10%);

  • Mapping project deliverables (30%);

  • Final presentation and brief report (30%);

  • Archaeological project (30%).

Assessment deadlines

  • Different groups present each week;

  • Mapping deliverables are due after data collection;

  • Final presentations are in week 7;

  • The individual project is due in week 8.

Reading list

  • Groups create reading lists for their projects;

  • There is an optional reading list accompanying the course.


See 'Contact'.


For more information about this course and registration, please contact dr. T. (Tuna) Kalayci.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Please contact the instructor if you cannot attend the practical work.