Cities, Migration & Socio-Spatial Inequality


International 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. Deepening divides and growing social inequality within and between cities and neighbourhoods are generally considered as undesirable and harmful towards life opportunities and social mobility of individual people. Increasing diversity also triggers questions in relation to national and urban identities, and even identities of neighbourhoods. This is reflected in the rise of populist parties and movements across Europe.

Consequences of social inequality and diversity manifest themselves on the level of cities and neighbourhoods. These consequences 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 with just 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.

For whom?

This minor is intended for students who are highly motivated to develop an interdisciplinary perspective on socio-spatial inequality, spatial justice, migration, diversity, identity, and spatial design. 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 and design cases in the Netherlands.

  • BSc students from TU Delft: BSc programme of Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences, Civil Engineering, Technology, Policy, and Management, and Industrial Design.
  • BSc students from Leiden University and Erasmus University: students from Public Administration and Sociology at the Erasmus University and students following the interdisciplinary bachelor programme Urban Studies at Leiden University (Faculty of Humanities). For all BSc programmes from Leiden University and Erasmus University with which you can apply for this minor please check
  • BSc students from other Dutch universities: students with backgrounds in human geography or urban planning (Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Utrecht) and urban sociology (Amsterdam, Utrecht). 
  • BSc students from HBO: this minor is not open to HBO students.

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.

The minor offers 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.

Course overview

The programme consists of three interconnected courses with a total of 15 ECs and takes place in the first quarter.

  • CMSI Lecture Series and Review Paper (BK7470): 6 ECs
  • CMSI Collaborative Project ‘Tackling Spatial Inequality and Diversity’ (BK7471): 6 ECs
  • CMSI Engaging with Practice (BK7472): 3 ECs

For course descriptions, please visit the study guide.



Dr. Reinout Kleinhans