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First Year

The first year comprises courses that provide a general overview to introduce students to the field of the BA Urban Studies and its four themes. The eight knowledge-based courses are taught in both semesters in the form of lectures and tutorials. The lectures provide the big picture, while the tutorials address specific topics and use readings to explore these. Apart from the knowledge-based courses are the three methodology courses which aim to acquaint students with academic skills and methodologies such as writing and presenting as well as quantitative (statistics) and qualitative research methods through lectures and tutorials.

Alongside the lectures and tutorials, mentoring is a compulsory part of the first year. Here, first-year students receive more information on matters such as how the programme works. Within the framework of the mentoring, you also follow the research skills course at the Expertise Centre for Academic Skills (EAV) and a Library Tutorial.

The first year ends with a propaedeutic exam. Students must pass (a mark of 6.0 or higher) all the components to pass the propaedeutic exam.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Academic Writing and Presenting 10
Cultural Diversity in Urban Contexts 5
Determinants of Human Behaviour 5
Governance of Cities and Citizens 5
Urban Studies Foundations 5

Second semester

Imagining the City 5
Philosophy of Science and the City 5
The Material City 5
Urban Economics and Planning 5
Introduction to Methodology 5
Data Collection Methods 5

Second Year

In the second year, the focus shifts from introductory courses to courses revolving around the four themes: The Healthy City, The Multicultural City, The Safe City, and The Sustainable City. Each semester sheds light on two themes through the mandatory Lecture Series. Complementary to these lectures, the students have the option to specialise with the option of two Thematic Electives and two Methodological Electives per semester.

Apart from the thematic courses, students need to take Professional Orientation and Advanced Qualitative Methods, where they orient on possible future trajectories and hone their skills in qualitative research methods.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Mandatory Courses

Multicultural City Lecture Series 5
Professional Orientation 5
Safe City Lecture Series 5

Thematic Electives

Choose one of the following courses:

Crime, Criminalisation and the Right to the City 10
The Production of Belonging: Claiming Urban Space through Cultural and Linguistic Practices 10

Methodological Electives

Choose one of the following courses:

Exploring Archival Sources 5
Inferential Statistics 5

Second semester

Mandatory Courses

Advanced Qualitative Methods 5
Healthy City Lecture Series 5
Sustainable City Lecture Series 5

Thematic Electives

Choose one of the following courses:

Biodiversity in the City 10
Population Health Management and Health Behaviour Change 10

Methodological Electives

Choose one of the following courses:

Learn a Language 5
Politics 5
Spatial Analysis and Modelling in the Urban Environment 5

Preparation for internship in year 3 (optional):

Organisational Design, Culture and Behaviour 5

Third Year

During the third year students continue their specialisation in a number of ways: first and foremost, by writing their Thesis in one of the two themes selected in the second year. Additionally, the Elective Credits Space can be used to take up a minor, an internship, a study abroad or an elective package worth 30 EC. For more information on the different options, see the course description below.

Apart from the course which count towards the specialisation, the student must take a Literature Seminar, aimed at familiarising students with landmark works within Urban Studies, as well as Setting Up a Project, where the student gets first-hand experience at project management with an actual case from the field.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

First semester

Elective Credits (Urban Studies) 30

Second semester

Setting Up a Project 10

Literature Seminar

Choose one of the following courses:

Literature Seminar: Controlling the City: Biopolitics and the Wall 5
Literature Seminar: Walking the City: Psychogeographies, Mobilities and Everyday Space 5
Literature Seminar: Worlding the City: Global Futures and the Post-Metropolis 5

Thesis and Thesis Seminar

Choose one of the following courses:

Thesis and Thesis Seminar: Healthy City 15
Thesis and Thesis Seminar: Multicultural City 15
Thesis and Thesis Seminar: Safe City 15
Thesis and Thesis Seminar: Sustainable City 15

Additional information


First year

During the first year the programme will focus on the basic concepts and knowledge of cities and urbanization, as well as skills in academic writing and presenting, and basic methodology. Group mentors will give intensive supervision.

Second year

The second year focuses on four key themes: Multicultural City, Safe City, Healthy City, and Sustainable City. You will have the opportunity to discover each of the four themes, by following compulsory introductory lectures alongside electives (knowledge-based and methodological) in two of the themes. Apart from this theme-based research, there is a course in the first semester specifically aimed at stimulating students to think about their own interests, strengths and prospective career.

Third year

In the first semester of the third year you can make your own choices in the Elective Credits Space: studying abroad, a minor, an internship or electives. Your focus and thesis will be on one of the four themes. By choosing electives that fit your chosen theme, you can determine your own career path. You will also be able to work towards fulfilling the entry requirements of your preferred master’s programme after the BA Urban Studies.

In the second semester, there is an integrated component focused on introducing the student to the job market by setting up a project for an external partner. Students conclude the programme by writing an interdisciplinary thesis combined with a thesis seminar.

General learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

The student

  • 1) has a general understanding and orientation of the foundations of Urban Studies (urbanisation, governance, urban economy, urban sociology) and its specialisations (multiculturalism, well-being and health, safety, and sustainability);

  • 2) has basic knowledge and general understanding of the reciprocity between international, national and local aspects of socio-cultural urban issues;

  • 3) has knowledge and understanding of the long term perspectives of urbanisation processes;

  • 4) has basic knowledge and understanding of state-of-the-art methods and techniques used in at least two of the following disciplines: Humanities, Social sciences, Sciences.

Applying knowledge and understanding

The student

  • 5) is able to apply and compare knowledge and understanding of at least two of the following specialisations within Urban Studies: multiculturalism, well-being and health, safety, sustainability

  • 6) is able to systematically search and select relevant literature;

  • 7) is able to apply basic qualitative and quantitative research methods and techniques in humanities, social sciences and (environmental) sciences and more advanced methods and techniques in at least one of these disciplines;

  • 8) is able to analyse and conceptualise phenomena in a comparative perspective;

  • 9) is able to formulate coherent solutions for urban problems based on existing scientific theories and contemporary research;

  • 10) is able to set up and conduct research with limited complexity within the interdisciplinary context of Urban Studies.


The student

  • 11) is aware of current ethical concepts and principles in the field of Urban Studies and of proper scientific conduct as part of a scientific attitude;

  • 12) is able to judge the value of theories and research practice from a philosophy of science-perspective;

  • 13) is self-critical, is particularly able to put culturally instilled attitudes into perspective;

  • 14) is capable of analysis, conceptualisation, reasoning;

  • 15) is able to formulate problems and (help) find solutions;

  • 16) is able to assess (basic) research methods and research outcomes;

  • 17) is able to judge his or her own research as well as the research of others;

  • 18) is able to reflect on the profession and work of practitioners.


The student

  • 19) is able to report comprehensively, correctly and critically in English on matters pertaining to Urban Studies;

  • 20) is able to present research results in a comprehensive manner both written and verbally to a specialist and non-specialist public;

  • 21) is able to discuss, and come up with arguments;

  • 22) gives feedback to peers in a constructive fashion.

Learning skills

The student

  • 23) is sociable and communicative when working with others;

  • 24) uses feedback and reasoned criticism from peers to revise his/her own point oview or argumentation;

  • 25) takes on board the instructions and criticism of supervisors, and takes previous instructions and criticism into account in comparable situations;

  • 26) is able to make a realistic schedule and to stick to the agreed schedule and prioritisation.

  • 27) is able to make a conscious choice in favour of continued studies (e.g. master’s programme) or of a position in the labour market.

Additional requirements BSA

To be issued with a positive Binding Study Advice (BSA), students of the BA Urban Studies must obtain at least 45 EC and meet the additional requirement of passing the course Academic Writing and Presenting (semester 1) in their first academic year.

Follow-on Master's programme

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in BA Urban Studies

The programme

The curriculum of Urban Studies is characterised by training our students to analyse, discuss, and solve challenges that arise due to rapid global urbanisation. By merging together expertise from humanities, social sciences, law, and science for the first time, we mirror the interdisciplinarity and complexity of urban issues.
How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and why? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you’d like to do after graduation?
These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.


You will be notified via the Humanities website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

First year

Second year

Third year

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of Urban Studies include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.

The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

Courses of BA Urban Studies

Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester. Within Urban Studies, this takes place within the following courses:

Second year

  • Professional Orientation stimulates students to think about their own interests, strengths and prospective career through individual research and site visits to relevant future employers.

Third year

  • Elective Credits Space allows students to opt for an integrated internship where they gain valuable work experience.

  • Setting Up a Project gives our students the opportunity to turn their experience into practice by collaborating with peers on an actual consultancy project from the field. They will write pitch their findings for the client, and practice with writing an advisory policy document.


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to book an appointment with the career adviser of the Humanities Career Service, or with your Coordinator of Studies.

Transitional Arrangements

Year 1 Courses 2019-2020 Retake in 2020-2021 Remarks
The City in Long-term and Conceptual Perspectives Urban Studies Foundations Name change
Individuals, Groups, and Urban Institutions Determinants of Human Behaviour Name change