Accueil > Introduction to urban history


Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 34

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This course is a transversal common course of the Urban School of Sciences Po. At the intersection between intellectual and practical knowledge of metropolitan issues, it provides students common core of historical and historiographical knowledge. How do cities have been historically managed, governed and inhabited? What are the major urban transformations and their long-term impact on the organization of cities? What issues in terms of development, conflict management and inequality, economic development and mobility? How urban utopias have they influenced the town planning? This common course is a general introduction to urban history, focusing on large dynamics structuring urban evolution. The comparative approach will sustain students in improving their knowledge on urban history as well and on the history of the city and urban planning. Lectures and urban site discoveries and visits will face key issues and dynamics that shape the evolution of cities. Innovative for its learning tools, this course articulates lectures, site visits and a methodological workshop. Requirements are designed to help the students acquire reading skills, analytical competences, as well as visual and narrative skills to study long-term urban dynamics.


  • BARLES, Sabine (Professeur des universités)
  • DELMAIRE, Léa (Doctorante contractuelle)
  • DEVIENNE, Elsa A. (Maître de conférences)
  • ISSAR, Sukriti (Assistant professor OSC, SciencesPo)
  • PARRINELLO, Giacomo (Assistant Professor)
  • ROSENTAL, Paul-André (Professeur des Universités à Sciences Po)
  • VERDEIL, Eric (Professor at Sciences Po)

Pedagogical format

9 sessions of 2 hours + 2 site visits. This innovative course will be a journey into urban history and historiography, articulating lectures, field visits and exercises to train and develop a historical approach to the city.

Course validation

A short narrative individual essay, to present ideas, emotions and intuitions related to one event, or exhibition, etc., in Paris and its metropolitan region with original photo or sketch. A short minute / note related to an observation on the ground (by groups of two students each) on one of the topics covered in the course (with maps too).


Visit to one exhibition or one event during the semester. Mandatory participation at the urban site discovery, visits and external meetings.

Required reading

Shane Ewen, What is Urban History?, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press 2016

Additional required reading

Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design Since 1880, London, Routledge, 2014 (4th ed.)