Cities, Migration & Socio-Spatial Inequality

Minor code: BK-MI-193-17

Language: English

Participating institutions: Faculty or Architecture and the Built Environment (TU Delft), Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University

Maximum participants: 35

Education methods: Interactive lectures, literature review paper, research and strategy design (project team work), site visits and interviews with professionals. 

For whom?

This 15 ECTS-minor is intended for students who are highly motivated to develop an interdisciplinary perspective on socio-spatial inequality, spatial justice, migration, diversity and identity. Students from different backgrounds will acquire a thorough understanding of these concepts and learn how to analyse related questions from the academic disciplines of urban geography, sociology, urban planning and design, and public administration. Students will also be trained to apply this knowledge in plans with socio-spatial strategies for intervention in and redesign of concrete planning cases. 

You must have a passion for social scientific research and combine a strong academic curiosity with a determination to apply interdisciplinary knowledge in real-life situations of complex urban planning cases in the Netherlands.

The minor is targeted to bachelor students at the Faculty of Architecture & the Built Environment, but also students from the faculties of Technology, Policy, and Management (TPM), Industrial Design, and Civil Engineering. 
Architecture students can add a ‘free’ or external 15 ECTS minor to the minor ‘Cities, Migration and Socio-Spatial Inequality’ (in order to complete the required 30 ECTS of the minor part in the BSc programme). For more information, consult this website.

Another highly important target group are bachelor students of Public Administration and Sociology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. The minor is intended to cater to the new one-year LDE master specialisation ‘Governance of Migration and Diversity’ (GMD, started September 2016) which is a co-operation between Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The minor will also be open for interested bachelor students with backgrounds in human geography or urban planning (Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Nijmegen), urban sociology (Utrecht, Amsterdam), and public administration (Leiden). 


International migration has transformed social life in Europe. The recent increase of refugees and asylum applications across many European countries is a clear instance of how migration flows originate in an increasingly interconnected world and how such flows contribute to diversification, especially at the very concrete level of cities and urban neighbourhoods. Simultaneously, there are increasing concerns about growing social inequality in contemporary societies. 

Deepening divides and socio-spatial segregation within and between cities and neighbourhoods are generally considered as undesirable and harmful towards life opportunities and social mobility of individual people. Migration flows create a large array of integration challenges (language, education, employment, housing, social cohesion) in cities and neighbourhoods. Increasing population diversity coincides with growing socio-economic deprivation and patterns of socio-spatial segregation. Increasing diversity also triggers questions in relation to national and urban identities, and even identities of neighbourhoods.

Consequences of social inequality and diversity precipitating on the level of cities and neighbourhoods, pose challenges to the planning, (re)design and management of neighbourhoods, in particular housing, public space, and facilities. Consider for example the management and restructuring of declining urban neighbourhoods, redevelopment of vacant office buildings into temporary shelters and (re)design of public space in ‘super-diverse’ areas.

Such challenges cannot be solved by only design and engineering approaches. Understanding the intricate nature of socio-spatial inequality, migration and diversity in cities and neighbourhoods and being able to develop planning, design and governance strategies requires a multi-, inter- or even trans-disciplinary perspective. This encompasses knowledge of international trends and developments, as well as geographical, sociological, planning and public administration perspectives on social inequality, spatial justice, migration, identity and diversity, their impact on urban and neighbourhood life, urban and neighbourhood design and their policy implications. 

What will you learn?

The CMSI-minor enables students to:  

  • Develop an interdisciplinary perspective on socio-spatial inequality, spatial justice, migration, identity and diversity, including urban geography, sociology, urban planning and design, and public administration; 
  • Acquire a methodological understanding which is essential to correctly analyse socio-spatial inequality, spatial justice, migration, identity and diversity and their consequences on various spatial levels.
  • Create (strategic) plans with socio-spatial strategies for intervention.
  • Assess the planning, governance and design implications of socio-spatial inequality, migration and diversity at the urban and neighbourhood level.

Course overview

The minor ‘Cities, Migration and Socio-Spatial Inequality’ consist of three courses that will be running parallel in quarter 1 and be strongly interconnected in the lead time of the minor (one quarter, effectively ten weeks).

Quarter 1
BK7470 - CMSI Lecture Series and Review Paper (6 ECTS) 
BK7471 - CMSI Collaborative Project: Tackling Spatial Inequality and Diversity (6 ECTS)
BK7472 - CMSI Engaging with Practice (3 ECTS)

The minor will offer two additional (facultative) sessions that will offer students hands-on support with the writing and presenting elements in the minor, and will train students in presenting their review paper or project report. 

For course descriptions, please visit the study guide.