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Urban Ecology and Evolution


Admission requirements

BSc in biology or related disciplines.


This course will introduce students to unique urban environments and how these differ ecologically from non-urban environments. Via lectures, literature study, experiments, excursions, and field practicals, students will be acquainted with characteristic urban biodiversity, urban ecosystems, and urban ecological processes, and learn to recognize urban evolutionary pressures that may or may not result in evolutionary change, within cities, across cities, and across urban-rural gradients. Special attention will be paid to how urban ecological and evolutionary insights can be applied in urban (green) planning, urban architecture, and urban conservation.

Course Objectives

After completion of this course, students can:

  1. Identify a selection of Dutch urban organisms and ecological communities
  2. Classify environmental parameters and regimes that are unique to urban environments
  3. Explain how uniquely urban ecological processes work
  4. Argue how these processes will result in evolutionary pressures
  5. Design field and lab experiments to test these predictions
  6. Apply urban ecological and evolutionary understanding to problems of urban design and planning


To access the timetables for all courses and degree programs at Leiden University, please use the [MyTimetable] ( tool (login required). Any teaching activities that you have successfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Additionally, any timetables you manually add will be saved and shown the next time you log in.

MyTimetable offers the convenience of integrating your timetable with popular calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and other smartphone calendar apps. Any changes made to the timetable will be automatically synced with your calendar. If desired, you can enable email notifications for timetable changes in the "Settings" section (after logging in).

For more information, please watch the instructional video or visit the "help-page" within MyTimetable. Note that Joint Degree students from Leiden/Delft will need to merge their two separate timetables into one. A video tutorial is available to guide you through the merging process.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, guest lectures, field and lab practicals, self-study, mini research projects

Assessment method

A. Individual grading: throughout the course, each student will write two blogs on a topic of their choice for the blog Life in the City. These will be graded by the course coordinators.
B. Group grading: in three of the sessions, groups of students will do a mini project, which will result in a short presentation and / or a small report. These will be used to determine group grades.
C. Final grading. The final grade for each student will be the average of group and individual grades.
D. Attendance of all sessions is compulsory. If you cannot attend, please inform the coordinator of the day and he will assign you a replacement activity.

Reading list

  • Szulkin, M., Munshi-South, J., & Charmantier, A. (Eds.). (2020). Urban evolutionary biology. Oxford University Press, USA.

  • Schilthuizen, M. (2019). Darwin comes to town: How the urban jungle drives evolution. Picador


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.



  • Max. number of students: 25

  • 16 weeks (6 EC): March 4th until June 21st, 2024

  • Registration deadline: March 1st, 2024
    Your registration is not complete if you have not registered for all course components available in my study map (exam, lecture, etc.).