PhD Seminar

Doing Urban Studies

Link: TISS 280.491

SE Seminar / Semester hours: 2.0 / ECTS 3.0

***This course is offered as a co-teaching project offered by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein and Prof. Dr. Charis Christodoulou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki via Erasmus Teaching Exchange and will involve participation in the International Conference Unsettled. Urban routines, temporalities and contestations at TU Wien***

i. Aim of the course

The seminar is aimed at doctoral students conducting research in or related to urban studies and related disciplines, who are looking for an opportunity to discuss their thesis projects in a supportive environment with both their peers and an international team of researchers. It evolves around the International Conference ‘Unsettled. Urban routines, temporalities and contestations’, where an Erasmus Teaching Exchange facilitates the collaboration between teaching staff from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and TU Wien. The seminar will consist of (I) a kick-off session (1st March), (II) a lecture-series (as part of the three-days conference, 29th-31st March 17) and (III) a successive two-days all day workshop (3rd and 4th April 17).


The kick-off session will introduce participants and their research approaches, and sheds a light on the expertise of teaching staff. An introduction to the conference will be offered.


Lecture-type inputs will offer entry perspectives into different strands in urban studies and different approaches to study urban phenomena. These will be analysed by the students through a given set of previously introduced questions:

  • Which research subjects and studied phenomena are presented and discussed (in terms of relevance, research gap defined and depiction of the complex phenomena studied)?
  • How are urban phenomena approached (in terms of concepts, empirical fieldwork and analysis)?
  • How are linkages and priorities between empirical material and theoretical strands in urban studies established (in terms of chosen field and discourse, ways of linking theory and research and with which type of research strategy, i.e. inductive, deductive, etc.)?
  • How are issues of research positionality and reflexivity in empirical investigation as well as inter-contextual transferability and adaptability of theoretical approaches raised (i.e. explicitly, implicitly, if any)?


The follow-up workshop will consist of presentations by teaching staff (Christodoulou) and by seminar participants. The aim is to learn about different ways of doing urban research, to provide support to the participants in developing their research theories, questions, hypothesis and methods and to start building a confidential group of young researchers at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space who engage in mutual support.

Participants will be expected to present their research ideas, progress and open questions or problems in 20minutes, with a successive plenary discussion. Each presentation will be thus followed by a solution-oriented discussion on the presented project. Presenters are encouraged to unveil problems instead of successes, and listeners to advise and support their fellow students instead of criticizing them.

By analysing chosen conference contributions, and by receiving and articulating constructive feedback, participants will learn about a range of theories and methods in urban research and develop the capacity to critically engage in the assessment of research projects.

ii. Contents of the course

Contemporary urban theory has developed apace over the last decade to consider the complex urban processes and issues that have risen as a result of globalisation, diversification of the economy, socio-demographic shifts, neoliberal political agendas, migration and growing concerns around the environment, amongst many other salient issues. Urban studies are increasingly concerned with new theoretical agendas which focus on questions of theorizing everyday life and discussing emerging epistemologies of collective acts of appropriation of (public) urban space. The seminar will place a particular emphasis on urban culture and public space, but contributions on other subjects relating to the field of critical urban studies are welcome.

The seminars will be interactive, delivered in concentrated blocks. Depending on the number of participants, each student will be allocated a 30-minutes slot for discussing her/his work. The students will be expected to prepare a text of 4-6 pages about their research and upload it on the course website at least 14 days in advance, so that teachers and fellow students can prepare for discussion. The nature of the seminars is developmental, designed to help the students with constructive feedback.

iii. Schedule

Part I Introduction

01/03/17 Unit 1 9am Kick-Off Session (also via skype)

Part II Unsettled Conference, 29- to 30th March 17

29th March 17

9:30-11:00 Unit 2 Keynote 1

11:30-13:00 Unit 3 Urban Routines I

14:00-15:30 Unit 4 Urban Temporalities I

16:00-17:30 Unit 5 Urban Contestations I

30th March 17

9:30-11:00 Unit 6 Urban Routines II

11:30-13:00 Unit 7 Urban Temporalities II

14:00-15:30 Unit 8 Urban Contestations II

16:00-17:30 Unit 9 Keynote II

31st  March 17

9am-3pm Participation in In Situ Workhshops (Recommended) 

Part III Workshop

3rd April 17

9:00-10:30 Unit 10 Lecture Prof. Dr. Charis Christodoulou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

11:00-12:30 Unit 11 Participants Presentation (no1, 2 and 3)

14:00-15:30 Unit 12 Participants Presentation (no3, 4 and 5)

4th April 17

9:00-10:30 Unit 13 Participants Presentation (no 6, 7 and 8)

11:00-12:30 Unit 14 Closing, Feedback and Grouping

iv. Registration

Students should be realizing their PhD courses in (relation to) urban studies at TU Wien or another university. Their backgrounds can range from urban studies, architecture, planning, landscape architecture, urban geography, urban sociology, poltiical science, or other related fields.

PhD candiates (from study curricula 786 600, 784 630 or 786 630, or similar PhD studies in urban sociology, urban geography, political science, cultural studies and the arts or landscpae architecture) need to write a short (2 paragraph) statement of motivation including their PhD exposé and their thematic link to urban studies to until 28th of February 17. Registration will be organized via the institute (Prof. Knierbein).

v. Assessment of students’ performance

  • Upload of Scientific PhD Exposé (4-6 pages), including full research design (State of the Art, Research Gap, Research Question + Hypothesis, Research Methodology and a tentative structure and/or workplan) (25%)
  • 12min Presentations, with the last slot addressing your open questions, doubts and difficulties (25%)
  • Short 2pages Essay on the Conference Contributions summarizing the reflections on the questions stated above (free writing style).
  • Oral feedback to peers and 2 paragraphs of written feedback for each colleague¿s exposé before the workshop part starts (25%)

Criteria for evaluation: Deepness of analysis, engagement in the discussions, reflection and self-reflection, creating an own positionality, ability to take criticism; degree of reflection on researcher¿s role, processes, methods, designs, pitfalls and aporias.

vi. Bibliography

Brenner, N. & C. Schmid (2015) Towards a new epistemology of the urban? City, 19:2-3, pp. 151-182.

Bryman, A. (2015) Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press. Section The Research Process, Point 1 (The Nature and Process of Social Research) Point 3 (Research Design) and Point 4 (Planning a research project and formulating research questions), Pp. 2-15, 39-89.

Johnson et. al. (2004) The Practice of Cultural Studies. Sage. Section Groundings

Lefebvre, H (2003 (1970)) The Urban Phenomenon. In: Lefebvre, H (ed) The Urban Revolution, University of Minnesota Press. PP. 45-76.

Robinson, J. (2011)  Cities in a World of Cities: The Comparative Gesture, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35.1, pp.1¿23.

Shields, R. (2008) The Urban Question as Cargo Cult: Opportunities for a New Urban Pedagogy, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol. 32.3, pp.712¿718.

Saukko, P (2003) Combining Methodologies in Cultural Studies. An Introduction to Classical and New Methodological Appraoches. Sage

Silver, H., A.Scott, Y.Kazepov (2010) Participation in Urban Contention and Deliberation, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34.3, pp.453¿77.

Sultana, F. (2007) Reflexivity, Positionality and Participatory Ethics: Negotiating Fieldwork Dilemmas in International Research, ACME Editorial Collective, 6 (3), pp.374-385.

Yin, R. K. (2012) Applications of Case Study Research. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks


Comments are closed.