Netherlands, Amsterdam

The Economics of Vibrant Cities

when 2 July 2016 - 16 July 2016
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

This course leads students through the economic forces that drive urbanization and explores pressing questions such as: Why are some cities thriving, while others struggle? What types of firms and people want to cluster in space, and why? What does economic theory teach us about policy challenges that metropolitan areas face, such as crime, segregation, traffic congestion, and environmental pollution, and what are the pros and cons of the instruments available to tackle these challenges?

Half the world's population now lives in cities, and in a few decades the world's urban population will be larger than the entire global population today. This wave of urbanization affects an unprecedented number of people. It brings great opportunities, but also raises important societal and policy challenges. The course addresses such challenges via lectures, field work, and excursions in and around Amsterdam; one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, capital of one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and an international economic and trade center since the 17th century. Featured excursions include a visit to the port of Amsterdam.

Course leader

Dr. Mark Lijesen

Target group

Students of Economics, Econometrics and Economic Geography.

Course aim

You gain a solid understanding of the economic mechanisms which drive urbanization, as well as those determining why some cities are successful and some are not.
You gain a clear understanding of the policy challenges facing metropolitan areas (eg. crime, congestion, pollution) and the pros and cons of the instruments available to tackle them.

Credits info

Contact hours:: 45

Fee info

EUR 1000: The tuition fee includes an airport pick-up service, welcome goodiebag, orientation programme, on-site support, 24/7 emergency assistance, and a transcript of records after completion of the course.

An early bird discount of €100 is available for students who apply before 1 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered, starting at €425 for two weeks.


The Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition fee of one course. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is 31 March. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the Summer School Website.