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Spatial Analysis and Modelling in the Urban Environment


Admission requirements

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


In the Urban Environment many research questions and topics have a spatial component. It means geography is included. The analysis and visualization of the spatial relations between the different phenomena is often crucial for understanding and solving the research questions in the Urban Environment.

Topics in the city with a spatial dimension are for example:

  • Crime and safety

  • Social geography (like poverty)

  • Biodiversity

  • Mobility

In this course we will introduce the geographical approach. A method to solve spatial problems using five different steps:

  • problem definition including describing the spatial component and the required outcome of the study.

  • data acquisition (exploring different sources of spatial data)

  • data storage and management (learing how to store spatial features and how to convert them to the appropriate format

  • data analysis and modelling (learing how to combine different spatial layers, to use spatial tools and to make a basic spatial model)

  • data output ( exploring several methods to communicate outcome of the spatial analysis.model to the target audience

Teaching materials and methods includes theoretical lectures about the above mentioned geographical approach steps, practicals in working with ArcGIS Pro software, field work with collecting spatial data and working on a group assignment solving a specific Urban spatial problem/case study.

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 is able:

  • to describe what spatial data and GIS means;

  • to identify specific characteristics of spatial data;

  • to list which type of spatial data are available and how these datasets can be found;

  • to describe the different steps in the geograpichal approach to solve a spatial problem;

  • to specify and to select the appropriate spatial analysis tools to solve a spatial problem;

  • to clarify and to argue which method is chosen to solve a specific spatial problem;

  • to use and perform the method with the chosen tools and analysis steps;

  • to present and reflect on the selected methodology with the aid of a flow diagram.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • 4 Lectures (compulsory attendance)

  • 8 Tutorials (compulsory attendance)

The first six weeks will be about theory and more practical experience with GIS, the last six weeks the students will work in small groups on a case study in the Urban Environment and use the obtained knowledge ands skills. In the last workgroup the students have to present the chosen method and results of the GIS casestudy (assignment).

Compulsory attendance: This means that students have to attend every 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.

Assessment method


  • Midterm examination
    Written exam with short open questions
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 4-5, 8
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-4

  • Group assignment
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1, 4-5, 8, 10-11, 13-15, 18-21, 23-26
    -measured course specific objectives: 3-8

  • Oral presentation of assignment results (by group)
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1, 11, 13-15, 17, 20-21, 23
    -measured course specific objectives: 7-8

  • Personal Assignment
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 4, 7
    -measured course specific objectives: 7


Partial grade Weighing
Mid term exam 40%
Group assignment report 40%
Presentation of assignment results 10%
Personal assignment map 10%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components, with the additional requirement that the mid term exam, the group assignment and the personal assignment need to be sufficient to pass.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the exam grade and/or group assignment grade is lower than 5,50, there is a possibility of retaking the written examination material replacing the previous exam grade and/or resubmitting an improved version of the group assignment. The deadline for resubmission of the group assignment or personal assignment has to be consulted with the lecturer. The maximum grade for the resubmitted group assignment is 6.0.

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

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 organised.

Reading list

A detailed reading list will be distributed before the course starts. All academic papers (readings and for group presentations) are available via the Leiden University library website and/or Google Scholar, or have to be bought in advance:

  • Burrough P.A., Mc Donnel R.A., Lloyd C.D. (2014). Principles of Geographical Information Systems [3th Edition], Oxford: Oxford University Press;

  • Knox P., Pinch S. (2010). Urban Social Geography; An Introduction [6th edition], London & New York: Routledge.


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.


Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis.

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.