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Urban Studies: Sense, Space and Strategy

Programmes organised by the Graduate School of Social Science (including this programme) are cancelled for summer 2020 in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in following this programme in the future, please email with the programme name in the subject line and we will keep you updated on all developments in the coming months. Want to keep updated on social media and online content for summer 2020? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook at the links below.

Programme at a glance

Academic dates: 28 June - 16 July 2020
Housing dates: 26 June - 17 July 2020
Academic fee: € 1600 read more about what’s included.
Housing fee:

€ 625 for a private room with shared facilities and a € 75 refundable deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.

Credits: 6 European Credits
Who is this programme for? For current university students (Bachelors and Masters) in the arts and social sciences with an interest in urban studies. For working professionals with a desire to continue their education in this field.
Academic director: Thea Dukes
Early application deadline: 1 February 2020
Regular application deadline: 1 April 2020

Programme description

This innovative and interdisciplinary course borrows from human geography, experimental- and environmental-psychology, history, and sociology. We extend our methods of learning beyond the classroom and take to the outdoors daily, examining everything from street art tours to community gardens, and from sound walks to smell walks. Experiencing the city through the many different sensory lenses is at the heart of this programme, and presents exciting alternative ways to understand how people live in, respond to, and imagine their cities. As cities are densely populated, and as their diversity increases, sensitivity to stimuli (both positive and negative) is increasing too. This holds true for all sensory experiences like increased noise, overwhelming smells, and the experience of intense density, as urban spaces are co-created as territories of negotiation.

This three-week programme will explore the web of relationships between people and place. Through a series of diverse morning lectures, participants will explore the theoretical implications of sensescapes: that urban space is perceived on the basis of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), context, and memories, and that urban sensescapes might be contested, if threatened. In these lectures, we’ll delve into the effects that our sensory understanding of the city has on urban design, smart/techno cities, and circular cities. In the afternoon, we will use Amsterdam as our living laboratory and learn-by-doing, participating in urban gardening workshops, plastic fishing in the canals, sound- and smell-walks through diverse neighbourhoods, and engaging with the smart city with different community and business initiatives.

Despite being one of the most planned cities in the world, Amsterdam is constantly growing and changing, reinterpreting its sensescapes, and thereby, people’s relationships to the city. This is because urban environments are subject to change: this holds true not only for new neighbourhoods or cities, but also for environments that are familiar to us. Is our home and our sense of belonging also at stake when urban environments change? We will research what effects globalization has on our cities, focusing on increased tourism and density, and the creative resistances and responses that residents and newcomers alike propose and put into action.

Get in touch with us at or call +31 (0)20 525 3776.

Urban Studies: Sense, Space and Strategy
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in July