Great Cities


Course Objective

This course has the following learning goals:
1. learn to know historical urban patterns and meanings.
2. learn to identify the relation between urban patterns and
architectural monuments.
3. learn to read plans of cities and architectural monuments.
4. learn to make a visual and spatial analysis of a city.
5. practice to compare urban patterns and relate them to social,
political and religious ideas.
6. practice in writing an essay (1700-2000 words) of academic structure
and level,
following a specific stylesheet (VU Department of Art and Culture).

Course Content

In this course students learn the history and meaning (social,
political, religious) of patterns and elements of urban form, and of
their principal architectural monuments. The examples that will be
discussed cover the entire world and go back until the first millennium

Teaching Methods

Lectures, excursion, individual research / self study.

100% attendance is required. Whoever misses the first meeting might be
expelled from the course.

Method of Assessment

Final grade: between 0 and 10.
Tuition form, type and weight of assessment:
During the course the student completes three assignments: assignments 1
and 3 will be graded (0-10), assignment 2 only has to be completed
(pass/fail). In order for the final grade to be published, assignment 2
has to be graded 'pass'. Assignments 1 and 3 each count for 50% of the
final grade but they can not compensate one another: to pass the course
they both need to have been graded 5.5 the least.

Learning goals 1, 2 and 5: Assignment 1 (Exam, 50%).
Learning goals 3 and 4: Assignment 2 (Excursion).
Learning goals 1, 3, 5 and 6: Assignment 3 (Essay, 50%).

Schedule 2019:
Exam: week 47; resit week 51.
Excursion: week 48; resit week 51.
Essay: deadline week 51; resit week 8 [2020].


Spiro Kostof, The City Shaped. Urban Patterns and Meanings Through
History, London (Thames & Hudson Ltd.) 1991. ISBN 0-8212-1867-0

Target Audience

Important information for exchange students considering taking this

Please note that this is a course taught by an architectural historian
for historians and humanities students. The course is not aimed at
designers and does not teach one ‘how to design a city’. It is aimed at
theoretical reflection about the history and functioning of cities.
Assignment 1 focusses on text analysis of a large quantity of historical
text (340 pages, in English). This text has to be learnt and analysed in
a small amount of time for the exam.
Assignment 3 is a written essay based on individual research of
scientific sources of a proper academic level. Be sure you have affinity
with reading and writing. If you are not a humanities student, or do not
have affinity with the scientific historical discipline, you are advised
to choose another course.

Additional Information

Written assignments can be submitted in English or Dutch.

General Information

Course Code L_KBBAMKD204
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 200
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator M.J.M. van Beek MA
Examiner M.J.M. van Beek MA
Teaching Staff M.J.M. van Beek MA

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

This course is also available as: