Urban Studies


Course Objective

Knowledge and understanding. The student has aquired knowledge and
understanding of:
(1) key concepts in urban anthropology;
(2) the ways in which urban development and sustainable development are

Application. The student has acquired the competences to:
(3) apply key concepts from urban anthropology to an ethnographic
research in public spaces in Amsterdam;
(4) combine and compare key concepts in urban anthropology in a written

Communication. The student is able to:
(5) report about the research projects in verbal and written form.

Learning skills. The student has acquired the skills to:
(6) work in small research teams to carry out a small ethnographic
research project;

Course Content

Cities around the world are centres of economic development, attracting
domestic and foreign investors, visitors, and high-skilled and
low-skilled migrants. Locked in a global competition for investments,
cities need to be developed in a way that they are attractive to
investors and become socially and ecologically sustainable. Social
sustainability requires that different actors get their fair place in
the city, in terms of income opportunities, and a space to dwell, meet,
express oneself, and work. Ecological sustainability requires that
cities reduce their ecological footprint, compensate environmental
damage to the planet, and reuse as many resources as possible. Taking
urban space as the focus of our attention in this course, we will go
into politics, inequality, lifestyles, and liveability in cities.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and tutorials

Method of Assessment

Written exam (50%) and joint research paper or poster (50%).


To be announced in the course manual (see CANVAS).

Target Audience

2nd year students in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology;
Students in the Minor Anthropology or the Minor Development and Global
Also open as an elective course for Exchange Students.

Additional Information

This course fits into several programmes. It is part of the Bachelor
Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology; it is the closing of
the theme block “Development”, but in time follows directly on two
courses from the theme block “World Making” (in particular Identity,
Diversity and Inclusion, and Nation and Migration). The themes of these
courses –politics, inequality, development, globalization, diversity,
identity, migration– all return in Urban Studies. In the same vein,
Urban Studies is the closing of the minor Development and Global
Challenges. For students of the minor Anthropology, the most memorable
element will be their first experience with ethnographic fieldwork.
While Urban Studies is integrated in all these programmes, the course
can also be taken as an elective course of its own. It is the only
course on Urban Studies offered in the Faculty of Social Sciences of
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and it is especially interesting to
exchange students who wish to get to know Amsterdam better.

Note that students are expected to attend three preparatory meetings in
November-December (the so-called studielint).

Custom Course Registration

For this course, it is not possible to register for the seminars yourself, the course coordinator sorts you into a seminar. Note: you have to register for the other course elements yourself!

Recommended background knowledge

There are no requirements, but ideally students have completed the
courses Political and Economic Anthropology, and Development and
Globalization (for BSc CAO and minor Anthropology), or Development and
Globalization and Identity, Diversity and Inclusion (Minor DGC).

General Information

Course Code S_UBS
Credits 6 EC
Period P2+3
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator dr. F. Colombijn
Examiner dr. F. Colombijn
Teaching Staff dr. F. Colombijn

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Lecture, Study-group*

*You cannot select a group yourself for this teaching method, you will be placed in a group.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: