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Subject guide

Urban Studies

Overview of databases, reference works and websites for research in Urban Studies

The Urban Studies library collection provides access to various publications, e-resources and other materials pertaining to the history, governance, ecology and social and cultural composition of cities.

A concise reference collection, consisting mostly of literature relating to coursework, is available at the Wijnhaven Library in The Hague. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the programme, many relevant sources can also be found in the library collections of criminology, cultural anthropology, history, journalism & new media, and political science.

Students and staff also have access to the extensive digital collections of the university library, which contain around 40.000 e-journals, 1.000.000 e-books and 500 databases.

This subject guide covers a selection of e-resources relevant to students and researchers in the field of Urban  Studies, divided by region.

Publications from the various UBL locations may be borrowed at the Wijnhaven Library by requesting them using the Catalogue (choose ‘Campus Den Haag’ as a pick-up location). The collection shelved at the Wijnhaven may only be used within the Wijnhaven library.

The library holds a large number of handbooks and reference works on Urban Studies, that offer introductions to the field of studies, and provide good starting points for a research project. Among the more recent volumes held at the library are:

The library holds a large variety of urban studies journals, as well as journals on various aspects related to urban studies. Some of these journals stretch back a century – and so form a rich historical archive of urbanism and urban thinking.

Among the central titles offered are Urban Studies, City & Society, and Urban Affairs Review.

A selection of thematic journals can be found below.

History: Urban History, Urban History Review/Revue d’Histoire Urbaine, Journal of Urban History, Planning Perspectives.

Geography: Antipode, Progress in Human Geography.

Urban Studies: City, Cities and the Environment, Sustainable Cities and Society, Cities: The International Quarterly on Urban Policy.

Planning: Town Planning Review, Planning, Landscape and Urban Planning, Environment & Planning (series A, B, C, D, E)

Architecture: The Journal of Architecture, City, Territory & Architecture, Architecture, Technology, Culture, Architectural History, Architectural Histories.

Oxford Handbooks Online: this platform provides access to a large amount of handbooks published by Oxford University Press, including titles such as The Oxford Handbook of Urban Politics, The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning, The Oxford Handbook of Urban Economics and Planning, and The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History.

Cambridge Core: this platform offers access to e-books, including Cambridge Companions and Cambridge Histories, and all peer-reviewed journals and their digitized archives.

JSTOR: database of back issues of academic journals in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. 

Project Muse: Project Muse is a collaboration between libraries and publishers providing 100% fulltext and online access to over 380 high quality humanities and social sciences journals from over 60 scholarly publishers.

Web of Science (WoS): a frequently used bibliographical database, that is comprised of three different citation databases, including the Social Sciences Citation Index (1956 to present). WoS contains abstracts of journal articles and books, references and citations.

Worldwide Political Science AbstractsWPSA is a bibliographic database that allows for searching articles in international journals in political science, international relations and public administration. It provides abstracts, citations and references for many articles.

Healthy City

The library holds a large selection of handbooks, encyclopedias, and reference works on urban health.

Among the the e-journals and periodicals focusing on this theme, there are: Journal of Urban Health, and Women’s Health and Urban Life.

Safe City

The library holds a large selection of reference works on urban safety, urban crime and urban criminology. Students can also consult the Subject Guide to Criminology.

Among the the e-journals and periodicals focusing on this theme, there are: Journal of Urban Law, Urban Policy & Research, Rutgers Journal of Law & Urban Policy.

Sustainable City

For research projects on sustainable cities, students can use handbooks and encyclopedias, such as the ones mentioned below, as a starting point.

Among the e-journals and periodicals focusing on this theme, there are: Urban Ecosystems, Urban Climate, Urban Water Journal, The International Journal of Urban Forestry, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

Multicultural City

For research projects on multiculturalism in cities, students can use handbooks and encyclopedias, such as the ones mentioned below, as a starting point.

Among the e-journals and periodicals focusing on this theme, there are: City & Community, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action.

Various databases and e-resources provide statistical information on the populations, urbanization rates, economic performance and structure and other social, economic and political factors. Through the University Library, staff and students have access to:

The Economist Intelligence Unit: provides political and economic analyses and forecasts for 189 countries, and offers a database of economic indicators for 201 countries with over 300 series per country. The data ranges from 1980 to 2050.

ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research): this is the world’s largest archive of digital social science data. ICPSR acquires, preserves, and distributes original research data and provides training in its analysis.

IMF eLibrary : IMF Data provides comprehensive access to International financial statistics (IFS), Balance of payments statistics (BOPS), Direction of trade statistics (DOTS), and Government finance statistics (GFS) databases.

OECD iLibrary: the online library of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) features its books, papers and statistics.

StatLine: StatLine is the electronic database of the (Dutch) Central Bureau for Statistics, containing statistical information on many social, political and economic subjects regarding the Netherlands, in the shape of tables and graphs.

UN iLibrary: the United Nations iLibrary is an online collection providing easy access to thousands of books, datasets, reports and journals created by 50+ UN departments and agencies

The Compendium of Cultural Policies & Trends : this is an information and monitoring system of national cultural policies in and outside of Europe. It encompasses 43 cultural policy country profiles.

Newspapers can form a valuable resource for Urban Studies research. Leiden’s University Library provides access to a large collection of digital (contemporary) and digitized (historical) newspapers from all over the world, which can be found in the subject guide International Newspapers.

The University Library is a great starting point for accessing all sorts of different materials.

Databases: the Library subscribes to many different database collections of sources. These contain a huge range of different types of material, and are well worth exploring.

University Digital Collections: contains photography, drawings, manuscripts, texts, and much more.

Digital and Digitized Newspapers: the Library subscribes to many digitised newspaper archives, both current and historical. These are easily searchable with keywords and will yield lots of great primary source material.

You will also find that many National Archives and Libraries have freely available digital archive collections. A selection contains:

The Biblioteca Nacional de Espana: has a large online repository, with holdings on Latin America as well as Spain.

The British Library: also holds extensive digital collections, among them Map Collections covering the whole world, large collections of sound recordings (both music, sound and oral history), and the British Newspaper Archive which offers easily searchable collections of 160 different local newspapers from the 18th to the 20th Century (access the newspapers here).   

The Bundesarchiv (Germany): holds substantial digital collections, among other on the history of cities.

Europeana: collects digital materials from thousands of European archives, museums and libraries. It provides access to millions of books, images, music, artworks, and dedicated collections on Migration, Maps and Geography, Industrial Heritage, and much more.

Gallicathe digital archive of the Bibliotheque National de France is another large online resource, with images, documents, texts, sounds, maps relating to France and French culture.

The Nationaal Archief (Netherlands): also has large online holdings, including photographic collections in particular.

Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam: houses the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, with extensive digital collections available for urban research.

The US Library of Congress: holds extensive digital collections, including dedicated collections on Cities and Towns, and Historic US Buildings.

Many other organisations also host online archives. A selection contains:

British Film Institute: an extensive online multimedia archive, with newsreels and videos relating to the British empire and many other parts of the world.

British Pathe: also a large online multimedia archive of films, videos and newsreels.

Harvard Bauhaus Collection: Harvard Museums also has a Bauhaus Collection, one of the largest on this hugely important school of art, architecture and design.

Historic England: a huge collection of photographs, plans and drawings, with a focus on the built environment, in Britain and beyond.

The International Institute for Social History: situated in Amsterdam, this world-renowned institute holds a vast range of collections covering almost every country in the world, with many available digitally.

Leodis: a photographic archive of Leeds.

Manchester Local Image Collection: containing photographs, drawings and maps.

Online Archive of Squatting in the Netherlands: the International Institute hosts the archive of the Dutch Squatters Movement, which holds many digital items.  

The Social Museum Collection of Harvard Museums: a photographic archive of social conditions around the world from 1886 to 1913.

Sydney Historical Archive: holds a vast array of oral history archives, many of which are available online.

Various blogs and websites of research institutes, supranational organizations and collectives are of great use to Urban Studies students and staff. Among these websites are:

African Centre for Cities: the website of is this interdisciplinary research and teaching program focuses on the dynamics of unsustainable urbanization processes in Africa, with an eye on identifying systemic responses.

Atlas of Urban Expansion: this Atlas collects and analyzes data on the quantity and quality of urban expansion in a stratiefied global sample of 200 cities.

Brookings Institute Metropolitan Policy Program: provides decision makers with timely trend analysis, cutting-edge research and policy ideas for improving the health and prosperity of cities and metropolitan areas.

Centre for Urban Studies: website and blog of University of Amsterdam’s Centre for Urban Studies.

Cities Today: a magazine containing analysis, comment and best practices on sustainable urban development around the world, aiming to connect local governments with public and private sector solutions

City Observatory: the website of City Observatory provides data-driven analysis of cities and the policies that shape them.

Failed Architecture: Failed Architecture reconnects architecture with the real world. By opening up new perspectives on the built environment, it seeks to explore the meaning of architecture in contemporary society.

Global Urban History: this is a blog focusing on global and urban history. It has published posts on a range of different cities and topics since its launch in November 2015.

The Guardian Cities: website of The Guardian on global urban developments.

H-Urban: a moderated multi-disciplinary forum for discussion and dissemination of scholarship on urban history and urban studies.

The Metropole: the official blog of the Urban History Association.

Urban Ecology: Urban Ecology was founded in 1975 by architects and activists. Its website publishes information and encourages dialogue on issues related to the urban environment, city and regional planning, and metropolitan affairs.

Urban Institute: the blog of the Urban Institute. UI is the United States’ leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities.

Urban Omnibus: published by the Architectural League, this online publication is dedicated to observing, understanding, and shaping the city.

The World Bank: Sustainable Cities Blog: reflections and reports from the World Bank on how to create (more) sustainable cities.

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