Land Management: Law, Finance, Real Estate & Natural Resources
Bridging Land, Water and Natural Resources

Study programme

This specialisation track focuses on how land and natural resources are accessed, managed and how these aspects contribute to, or hinder, the development of equitable and sustainable cities. It tackles the importance of land governance in supporting sustainable and resilient urban development in social, economic and environmental terms.  Key topics include settlement informality, displacement and gentrification. 

The Land Management: Law, Finance, Real Estate and Natural Resources programme is a specialisation track within the MSc in Urban Management and Development, which focuses on the legal, social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable land management. Land is at the heart of sustainable urban development. How we manage, regulate and develop land directly impacts the future of our cities. Yet, in the face of rapid urbanisation, local governments and communities are struggling to ensure that growth is equitable, sustainable, and resilient.

Governing land and natural resources would not be feasible without the understanding and utilization of the law to develop inclusive legal frameworks. Students will focus on land rights and the rule of law and familiarise themselves with legal instruments to ensure equitable access to property as well as property rights and tenure. Particular attention is also paid to the absence of rule of law: land conflicts, water grabbing, displacement, segregation and gentrification are all discussed.

In every city, land is the critical resource for urban economic development. Students will examine the fundamentals of land, land markets and real estate management and how local governments utilize land markets to increase their revenue, finance sustainable urban development and achieve public policy objectives.

Poor land management threatens all aspects of social policy, economic development and environmental management. It’s pivotal for governments, land holders, real estate developers and land brokers to understand vital inter-connections between land, water and natural resources in urban and peri-urban areas. Sustainable development requires an integrated approach involving these three fundamental resources. Students will develop responses to the challenges of post-disaster reconstruction and climate change in case studies and workshops. The course will focus on real-life city case studies with active land and real estate markets; and equity and sustainability concerns. In building their urban transformation strategies, students will learn to apply solutions involving nature-based solutions, resilience, adaptation measures and multiple benefits.

1. Land, Water and Natural Resources

The sustainable use and management of urban land, water and natural resources is a complex, multilayered challenge: it has environmental, social, political, institutional, legal and economic dimensions. The challenges of urban land and water management cut across sectors and jurisdictions, and as a result, their solutions must be multi-sectoral and cross-jurisdiction in nature. Students will learn how land managers and land developers need to incorporate water and natural resources in their mode of development to achieve proper sustainable cities.

2. Land Rights and the Rules of Law

Understanding the legal framework of land is fundamental to understanding land governance; it is therefore the first entry point to land governance. This course will investigate and explain issues that affect access to land and the consequences of the absence of the rule of law, which include: informal settlement formation; land grabbing; land conflicts; displacement; gentrification; and segregation.

3. Land Markets and Finance

This course covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives. This theme covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives.

Pedagogical games are an essential component of this specialisation, where participants have to devise strategies that combine various land governance and planning policies and instruments, to bring multiple stakeholders and institutions together to work to address urban and peri-urban social, economic and environmental challenges.

Gain an insight into the study programme, the lecturers and student life

Read the interview of Jianmei Hu

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You don't have to be a lawyer to study Land Law

An insightful interview with one of the lecturers - Ore Fika

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  • At the end of the course participants should be able to:

    • Identify, propose and present strategies (regulations, policies, programmes and instruments) to solve problems associated with land rights, tenure and access to land issues in urban and peri-urban areas.

    • Analyse the nature of complexity in urban land markets, and the need for integrated, cross-jurisdiction solutions to land and environmental challenges.

    • Evaluate the multi-faceted principles of “resilience” and “risk” and the application of these principles to land use, water management and environmental policies in urban areas.

How is your year organized?

In the first block the programme shares courses on urban sustainability, governance, planning, policy, finance and data analytics with the other specialisation tracks. However, your assignments with the modules as well as the action planning workshop are always track-specific. In the second and third blocks, your courses will only be track-specific but all students also follow a course on GIS. In addition, the programme will strengthen your research skills through research methods courses and workshops. It will further guide you in writing your thesis proposal on a topic relevant to your specialisation track. The forth block will be entirely dedicated to you writing your thesis.

  • Land Rights and the Rule of Law Cluster

    • Implementing mixed use developments: a property rights perspective, a case study of Kampala Capital City, Uganda
    • Feeling left out: Investigating the perceived failure of Baltimore's inclusionary housing program through a game theory framework
    • Impacts of large scale land acquisition (land grabbing) by foreign investors and city performance towards the land rights of the indigenous people. Case study Nungwi Zanzibar, Tanzania

    Land Economics and Finance Cluster

    • Land value taxation and land speculation; the case of Sao Paulo, Brazil
    • Infrastructure investment and land value capture: A case study of Ejisu-Juaben Municipal Assembly, Ghana
    • How investments in urban services can be financed by the land value capture instrument "Sale of Development Rights". The case of Curitiba, Brazil

    Land and Water Cluster

    • Blue-Green infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: A MOTA analysis
    • The influences of Sponge city on property value in Wuhan, China
    • Room for the Volcano? Shaping the risk management strategies of households in areas prone to Lahar risk in Latacunga - Ecuador
    • Household context and operationalizing urban resiliency objectives. A case study of autonomous household response in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
  • Blocks 1 & 2 - October to January

    • With over half of the population living in urban areas, rising to 70% in 2050, it is of ever-increasing importance to understand how cities work and evolve. Complex and interrelated economic, social, physical, and environmental processes are constantly transforming cities. Understanding cities, therefore, require us to recognize, define and describe these complex and multidisciplinary processes.

    • Local governments have a key role in the planning and execution of investments and preparation of fundable projects. In some countries, local governments have become increasingly dependent on intergovernmental transfers, which have been shrinking over time in part because of the fiscal constraints. Moreover, investment decisions are at the core of any development strategy. All these and many other aspects of financial investments are addressed in this course.

    •  The Action planning Workshop incorporates the concepts learned during the Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and Public-Private Partnerships (UGPPP) module in a practical, one-week exercise conducted in cooperation with local stakeholders in the city of Rotterdam.

    • This course will discuss the efforts of governments, often undertaken in partnership with other stakeholders, to deliberately intervene in and influence, steer and guide the development process of cities. 

    • For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This does not only mean that a majority of people worldwide live in cities, but also that cities are increasingly becoming larger and more complex. To account for that complexity, an ever-increasing number of quantitative data sources that cover urban areas and cities on different scales have become available, requiring urban managers to have the knowledge and skills for analysing such data and making sense out of them. This course will teach students how to harness the power of quantitative urban data by mastering the way they are prepared, visualised and analysed. The course begins with introducing students to quantitative data analysis (compared to qualitative data analysis), and continues with lectures on descriptive statistics and data visualisation.

    Block 3 - January to April

    • Understanding the legal framework of land is fundamental to understanding land governance; it is therefore the first entry point to land governance. This course will investigate and explain issues that affect access to land and the consequences of the absence of the rule of law, which include: informal settlement formation; land grabbing; land conflicts; displacement; gentrification; and segregation.

    • This course covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives. This theme covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives.

    • The sustainable use and management of urban land, water and natural resources is a complex, multilayered challenge: it has environmental, social, political, institutional, legal and economic dimensions. The challenges of urban land and water management cut across sectors and jurisdictions, and as a result, their solutions must be multi-sectoral and cross-jurisdiction in nature. Students will learn how land managers and land developers need to incorporate water and natural resources in their mode of development to achieve proper sustainable cities.

    Block 4 - April to September

    • Designing and implementing academic research in the field of urban studies is a major component of the master’s programme at IHS. This Research Design (RD) course guides students to design academic research within the social sciences and to develop their thesis proposal.

    • For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This does not only mean that a majority of people worldwide live in cities, but also that cities are increasingly becoming larger and more complex. In this context, collecting and making sense of in-depth qualitative data on complex urban issues is crucial for urban managers to understand and respond to how urban complexity is constructed, maintained, experienced and contested.

    • One aspect that makes the M.Sc. Programme unique is the fact that participants are encouraged to perform action-oriented research in their home countries or a country other than their own during the fieldwork period; there will be cases in which participants stay in Rotterdam and do their data collection in the Netherlands. To support the participants’ thesis work, as well as the quality of their output, IHS, in line with its research policy and research interest, offers participants the research workshops.