Urban Theory and Gaining from Land Use Transactions Game

Course introduction

With over half of the population living in urban areas, rising to 70% in 2050, it is of ever-increasing importance to understand how cities work and evolve. Complex and interrelated economic, social, physical, and environmental processes are constantly transforming cities. Understanding cities, therefore, require us to recognize, define and describe these complex and multidisciplinary processes.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to help students understand the complexity of cities based on economic, social, environmental and physical fundamentals. By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe long-term processes of urbanisation;

  • Define and describe cities as complex systems;

  • Analyse, in a generic way, how cities evolve economically, socially, environmentally and physically;

  • Appreciate how different rules and roles of actors result in different urban land uses and impact on all aspects of cities;

  • Explain the evolution of cities by combining the above perspectives.

Course content

The course has three main parts:

1. Introducing urban theory and cities as complex systems in a series of intensive lectures, self-study and a workshop.

2. Lectures and workshops on specific academic disciplines. Each discipline will be introduced in a lecture and students will have the opportunity to discuss the urban application of the discipline in greater detail during the workshops.

3. A pedagogical game called GLUT (Gaining with Land Use Transactions). In this game, students have to act as different key stakeholders and negotiate positions in a stylized city that is mediated by markets and regulations. The students will have the opportunity to experiment how the concepts they have learned about are reflected in the spatial dimension of cities.


Course information


Urban Management and Development


Block 1




Jan Fransen; Luca D’Acci

Coordinator of GLUT game

Carlos Morales-Schechinger




Lectures; workshops; simulation game; academic literature, self-study and discussion


Written closed book exam; participation in GLUT game and exercises