Course manual 2019/2020

Course content

An increasing part of Earth’s terrestrial surface is taken up by urban and peri-urban land use, forming large agglomerates known as metropoles such as Tokyo, Shanghai, Delhi, Mexico city, São Paulo, New York, London and Paris. These intensively-used areas are dynamic ecosystems with distinct properties, hosting particular species and communities, but also creating nuisances e.g. through invasive species or human-wildlife conflicts. At the same time, metropolitan ecosystems are pivotal in supporting human well-being, as over half of the global human population lives in cities, facing challenges related to e.g. air quality, heat, storm water, and space for leisure. Urban ecosystems can provide services to address some of these challenges. In this course we use an interdisciplinary approach to understand specific challenges and opportunities of an urbanizing world for both biodiversity, ecosystem processes, and people. Specifically we will learn about 1) the opportunities and limitations of the urban environment for biodiversity and species’ coping strategies; 2) the environmental challenges associated with urbanization and human well-being, and the role of ecosystems and their services in addressing these challenges; 3) human-wildlife conflicts in metropolitan landscapes and how these can be addressed.

Study materials


  • See canvas for more detailed literature per module.


  • Describe how the built-up environment is distinct from otherenvironments and provide concrete examples of effects thereof on flora/fauna species composition, ecosystem processes, and people’s well-being.
  •  Explain the mechanisms that allow certain kinds of species to establish themselves successfully in urban contexts.
  •  Explain the role urban ecosystems play in people’s well-being in different socio-economic and biophysical contexts.
  • Provide examples of human-wildlife conflicts in metropolitan contexts, describe the conditions under which these may arise, and formulate solutions to address these.
  • Illustrate how metropoles directly and indirectly affect land use and biodiversity in other areas.
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach in addressing metropolitan environmental and ecological challenges and identify actions required to create biodiversity- and adaptation-friendly cities and towns for the future.

Teaching methods

  • Lecture
  • Computer lab session/practical training
  • Fieldwork/excursion
  • Presentation/symposium
  • Self-study
  • Working independently on e.g. a project or thesis

Learning activities


Number of hours




This programme does not have requirements concerning attendance (TER part B).

Additional requirements for this course:

Student are expected to attend all student presentation sessions (even if online) and the biodiversity excursion.


Item and weight Details

Final grade

0.4 (100%)

Tentamen 1


  • All assignments are mandatory.
  • Several assignments are not graded but must be completed.
  • The final metropole assignment is worth 60% of your final grade.
  • See canvas for more details.

Fraud and plagiarism

The 'Regulations governing fraud and plagiarism for UvA students' applies to this course. This will be monitored carefully. Upon suspicion of fraud or plagiarism the Examinations Board of the programme will be informed. For the 'Regulations governing fraud and plagiarism for UvA students' see:

Course structure

Weeknummer Onderwerpen Studiestof

Contact information


  • dr. Judy Shamoun-Baranes

Dr. Judy Shamoun-Baranes

T: +31 (0)20 52 57436 |

Science Park 904,  1098 XH Amsterdam, room: C4.409

Dr. Verena Seufert

T +31 (0)20 59 82526 l

De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands l ROOM: WN-A660