Urban Geography (track in Human Geography) detailed description

Urban Geography (track in Human Geography)
detailed description of the track
Urban Geography at the UvA means:
- combining global & local perspectives on cities
- a comparative perspective on places in the global North & South
- small-scale education
- great diversity of students
Global & local perspectives on cities
The aim of the Master specialization in Urban Geography is to provide students with a better
understanding of the global and local processes that shape cities today. The 21st century will
undoubtedly be an urban age. As processes of globalization and economic restructuring have
contributed to unanticipated urban growth across the globe, cities are considered to be key engines
for innovation and economic growth and have been rediscovered as attractive places to live, work
and play. This celebration of urban life and cities as places of infinite opportunities, however, is only
one side of the story.
At the same time, cities are presented with substantial social challenges in the form of polarization
and urban inequality and confronted with processes of segregation, fragmentation and privatization
of the urban landscape. These are feared to contribute to social tensions and unrest within cities.
Consequently, cities are places of both unanticipated wealth and of concentrated poverty,
deprivation and vulnerability, shaping the life experiences and life chances of urban dwellers in
diverging and complex ways. This raises important questions about urban inequality and social
Moreover, while these transformations in urban space may seem a global phenomenon, there are
invariably substantial differences in the way in which they play out and express themselves in
different cities. In other words, the socio-spatial transformation of cities takes place-specific forms as
macro-economic, political, social and cultural processes filter through and are mediated by the
historically grown physical, social and institutional structure of the city. There is therefore a need to
study cities not just from the perspective of the global, but also from the perspective of the local.
Central themes
In the ‘urban geography’ track, students will explore a number of interrelated themes:
1. Urban inequalities and social justice: focusing on various forms of spatial segregation,
unequal access to housing and public space and the way in which these inequalities are
shaped by the institutional context and how they may differ along dimensions of class,
ethnicity, gender and age.
2. Socio-spatial dynamics of the city: providing insight in processes of urbanization and
suburbanization, neighborhood change, gentrification and urban restructuring.
3. Everyday urban geographies: questioning how residents’ everyday lives are shaped by the
structure of city and the neighborhoods in which they live. At the same time, residents
themselves use and ‘consume’ places in the city – ranging from neighborhoods to parks,
playgrounds and sidewalks - and thereby also produce these places.
These themes are explored in cities around the world, highlighting similarities and differences in the
transformation of urban spaces and places.
Studying in Amsterdam
Studying Urban Geography at the UvA means studying in the vibrant city of Amsterdam, which
provides students with many opportunities to see, experience and explore urban geographical
themes and processes themes ‘on the ground’. Moreover, the Graduate School of Social Sciences
offers the highest ranked Human Geography Master program in continental Europe and, like the city
itself, forms a vibrant international academic community, where roughly a third of the students is
Academic staff
Dr Hebe Verrest, Dr Fenne Pinkster, Dr. ir. Lia Karsten,
Professor Jan Nijman and Professor Sako Musterd