Graduate School of Social Sciences

Study programme

Urban Studies (Research MSc)

Programme outline

The Research Master 's programme in Urban Studies offers a multidisciplinary and comparative perspective on urban research. It combines urban geography, economic geography, urban and regional planning, and urban sociology. The programme takes two years, and consists of

  • a core introductory course (Advanced urban Studies) (12 ECTS);
  • three core research methodology courses (24 ECTS);
  • the Urban lab (12 ECTS); 
  • two methodology electives (12 ECTS);
  • two-three thematic electives (during exchange semester- 18 ECTS)
  • an exchange semester abroad; 
  • a research project with two case studies in two countries (often in the Netherlands and in the location of the exchange semester) culminating in a thesis or a research article (36 ECTS);
  • a thesis seminar (6 ECTS);
  • a  written thesis or a research article;

Students are expected to obtain 60 ECTS credits in each year of the programme, totalling 120 ECTS. The first year will be spent in Amsterdam and the second year will consist of a semester abroad followed by a period of thesis writing and research.

Main shopping street of Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Semester abroad

The first semester of the second year will be spent in a city abroad. Students will study at a university, following a number of urban studies related courses of their choice (18 EC). Moreover, they will conduct the first case study of their Master's research project.

The Urban Studies programme has established a collaboration with 27 (and growing!) universities worldwide that offer excellent programmes in the field of urban studies or its subfields, for instance with universities in New York, London, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Pretoria and Melbourne.

This semester abroad offers students excellent opportunities to experience studying in another environment, to build international networks, and to conduct research in a new environment. 

Thesis or Academic article

The curriculum of the first year combines thematic and theoretically oriented coursework with research training, with an aim to preparing students for writing their Master's thesis or academic article and for their stay abroad. In addition to coursework at the exchange university,  the second year is devoted to the individual research project, culminating in a thesis or article. The research project must be an international comparative study based on empirical fieldwork conducted in at least two metropolises. For practical reasons, the research will usually deal with metropolises in the Netherlands and the country where students spend their semester abroad.

Courses and methodology

The focus of the programme is on (internationally) comparative urban studies. Both the core theoretical course ‘Advanced Urban Studies’ and the research methodology taught in the first year therefore focus mainly on international comparisons of urban phenomena. Next to this we offer a wide range of electives on qualitative, quantitative and mixed methodology.Throughout the programme, we work with the following formats:

  • Interactive working groups and seminars
  • Lectures
  • Excursions
  • Research apprenticeship
  • Individual supervision (Master's thesis or research article).

Degree requirements

Upon successful completion of all coursework and the thesis, students will receive an officially accredited Master's degree in Urban Studies, and the title Master of Science.

Detailed course information

Detailed course descriptions can be found in the UvA Course Catalogue.

Published by  GSSS

Graduate School of Social Sciences

9 August 2016