Graduate School of Social Sciences

Research Master's Urban Studies

Degree programme
Urban Studies (Research)
Regular study programme
120 ECTS, 24 months
Language of instruction
Starts in
CROHO code

The 21st century will be an urban century. As of 2008 more than half of the world population lives in urban areas and this is expected to rise to sixty per cent in 2030. This growth will be concentrated in cities in Asia, mainly China and India, and to a lesser extent Africa and the Middle East  but also the largest cities and metropolitan regions of Europe and North America will keep growing, despite a general population decline.

Cities are simultaneously considered to be engines of economic growth and social, cultural and political opportunities, as well as places where problems and vulnerabilities such as insecurity and inequality concentrate. Consequently, we need academics who are able to conduct high quality research on urban processes. Adressing urban issues and processes as they occur in multiple and intersecting academic domains,  requires a multidisciplinary approach. The Research Master in Urban Studies (RMUS) combines the disciplines of urban geography, economic geography, urban and regional planning, and urban sociology to provide a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to studying urban change and the opportunities and challenges this produces. The University of Amsterdam is located in Amsterdam where many contemporary urban challenges are visible and experienced daily.

An important theme throughout the programme is the international comparison of critical urban phenomena, as exemplified by the requirement of an international comparison in your Master’s thesis.

Semester abroad

A unique feature of the programme, related to this international comparison, is the semester abroad at one of our exchange partner institutes in Europe, North America or East Asia that offer high quality programmes in urban studies.  

What is a Research Master's programme?

Research Master's programmes are two-year programmes specifically designed for excellent students aiming for a career in research. These programmes include additional research methodology, skills training, as well as hands-on experience in the top research groups of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research.

The programmes prepare students for writing a PhD thesis and following an academic career, as well as for a research oriented career outside academia. 

In this video, the features of a Research Master's programme are explained by a current student, an alumni and an academic staff member: 

Student profile

The Research Master's programme Urban Studies is open to students from the Netherlands as well as from abroad. Usually about fifty per cent of the students is international. Students come from various disciplines, mainly in social sciences. They share an interest in “the urban” and are in favour of a multidisciplinary approach, which means they think beyond their own disciplinary background. We expect students to have performed above average in their Bachelor’s programme and to have the ambition of a research career in academia or a research-oriented position in relevant professional fields like urban and regional planning, housing, social policy or real estate. 


Students in this Research Master’s programme acquire a solid foundation in state-of-the-art theories and debates in urban studies, in particular in the sub-fields of Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography and Urban Sociology. In our methodology courses, specific attention is given to combining qualitative and quantitative methods in mixed-method approaches and to comparative case study approaches. 

Focus on research

The programme is research based. It has strong ties with the  Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), and students are invited to attend academic activities at the AISSR. AISSR unites all research in the Social Sciences at the UvA and is one of the largest institutes in Europe.

The leading professors of four of AISSR's research groups, all highly valued in the latest reviews, are responsible for the core courses of the programme. Research Master's students work together with these professors during a research apprenticeship and their Master's Research Project.

As one of UvA’s research priority areas, the  Center for Urban Studies (part of AISSR) is closely linked to the Research Master's programme.

Previous students have established the online blog  The Proto City on which students, alumni and staff write about research and debates in Urban Studies. 

Degree certificate

Upon successful completion of the Research Master Urban Studies, students receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Urban Studies (Research).

Published by  GSSS

Graduate School of Social Sciences