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Research Master Urban Studies

Leon van Keulen: 'Making conscious choices'

Alumnus testimonial

Leon van Keulen, graduated in Urban Studies in 2011.

Leon van Keulen
Leon van Keulen, photo by: Adam Nowek

The Bachelor’s Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (ISS) is a great programme, that provides the opportunity to look beyond academic disciplines in a thematical way. Because of this there were concerns about not having a  successive Master's programme to complete afterwards. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, there’s no Master's programme that ties in better with ISS than the Research Master's programme in Urban Studies. During my Bachelor’s I chose the programme Urban Studies.This particular thematical curriculum enabled me to make my personal choices, which was both challenging and instructive. In this way, I was able to take courses in Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning. This wide range of topics has given me such a sound interdisciplinary base that I am able to elaborate on urban themes from different angles.

The Protocity

It's vital to keep investing in yourself. Not only within the context of your studies, but also in extra-curricular activities. This notion inspired me and my fellow students to set up The Protocity, a blog which focuses on urban issues and is a platform for students to showcase their ideas beyond academic essays. It offers students a light-hearted (and semi-academic) means to spread their ideas and to be creative within their field. And to be honest: it’s lots of fun to do.

Studying abroad

If you're open to it and think you would enjoy the challenge, I'd definitely recommend studying abroad. Certainly if you're planning to do an English-instructed Master's. And for me, taking a programme that focuses on cities, a new experience in a totally different city not only prepared me for the Master's itself but was also helpful for my future career. I spent five months studying in Manchester during my Bachelor's and five months in Hong Kong during my Master's. These two exchange programmes made me more independent, and more aware of different sociocultural environments. Amsterdam offers a great deal as an object of study, so it's quite easy to make the city your own and stay here. But the world has more to offer and to experience that, living somewhere else for a couple of months or longer can provide real added value.