Why this programme

Strategic Urban Planning & Policies
IHS’ inspiring environment which connects people from different cultures and professional backgrounds is the embodiment of ‘unity in diversity’.
Urban Management & Development Alumna - Hala

Cities are complex, dynamic systems influenced by a myriad of stakeholders. Strategic planning is an approach that seeks to guide instead of control urban development. Urban planning requires more flexible approaches that recognise the complexity of cities, embrace urban sustainability and the open-ended aspects of urban development processes, acknowledge stakeholders’ needs, and balance specific and shared interests. This programme will give you the qualifications to become an urban professional specialising in strategic urban planning and policy analysis. 

Traditional urban planning can no longer deal with the complexity of urban problems and accommodate the needs of stakeholders. Instead, urban planning requires a more flexible approach that embraces the open-ended aspects of urban development processes and acknowledges the different stakeholders’ needs. Strategic urban planning calls for a diverse set of knowledge and skills among urban planners for stakeholder management, socio-spatial analysis and critical reflection of problems and solutions.  In this programme, you will examine the complex or ‘wicked’ problems that planners face and must address in planning practice, for example: How to mediate conflicting interests within large-scale development projects? How to account for uncertainties in the realization of ambitious, future-oriented planning visions? How to influence visions and strategies for sustainable and inclusive urban futures that build on place-based potentials?

At the end of this course, participants will have gained the qualifications necessary to become urban development professionals specialising in contemporary planning approaches. In addition, students will have the opportunity to apply their learnings by working on real cases in Rotterdam and worldwide.

What are some of the special features of this track?

Next to earning your MSc diploma from Erasmus University Rotterdam, an institution that is consistently ranked among the top 3% of the world’s best universities, studying the Strategic Urban Planning & Policies track also means that you will get to:

Learn to use a variety of analytical tools and methods

Students will learn to use a variety of analytical tools and research methods to assess the socio-spatial dynamics of cities, the intended and unintended consequences of development policies and plans, and the reasons for developmental stalemates and frictions.

Students working together on a project

Gain stakeholder engagement skills

Multi-stakeholder involvement is vital in planning processes. However, there are obstacles to “real participation”, .e.g due to power imbalances and conflicting interests. Some stakeholders might be more influential than others. In this master track, you will learn how to lead and manage stakeholder negotiation processes.

Training of Trainers in Lebanon with NAHNOO, IHS, Veldacademie, NDU

Learn to deal with ambitious and future-oriented planning projects

This track focuses on the speculative and visionary nature of urban planning and development. Students will learn scenario modelling techniques and policy measurement and evaluation methods to grapple with the uncertainties of urban futures.

Iris van den Broek - Rotterdam Marketing

Work on real-life case studies

As part of the course’s graded assignment, students will work in groups to examine closely well-known, if not infamous, urban development projects in diverse regional contexts. The assignment allows students to directly apply the theoretical concepts they have learned in class to real-world situations, thus allowing them the opportunity to see how theory can be used to deliberate on practical and urgent urban problems.

Why study at IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam?

Earn your MSc degree from a top 100 university

Known for its academic rigours and high quality of education, Erasmus University Rotterdam is consistently ranked in the top 3% of the world’s best universities.

Our teaching methods are unique

Alongside IHS teaching and research activities, our faculty members work in the field on real-life cases around the world. Challenges, learnings, and questions from these different contexts are brought back to the classroom and woven into our curriculum. 

You apply everything you learn

Students learn through a blend of lectures, real-life case studies, discussions, debates, simulation environments, written assignments, and group work. Field visits and projects in Rotterdam and other Dutch cities provide first-hand exposure to local urban problems. Students have the option to complete their thesis fieldwork abroad and immerse themselves in a relevant urban context to collect data.

We offer a truly international and diverse environment

The IHS classroom comprises mid-level professionals and fresh graduates with rich and varied experiences from more than 45 countries. Typical backgrounds include architecture, engineering, planning, economics, social science, environmental science, and housing. 

Study in Rotterdam - a hub of sustainable urban innovation

Iconic architecture, pioneering urban planning, and a celebrated multicultural population have thrust Rotterdam to the forefront of innovation and cultivation within the urban world. 

Enjoy guest lecturers from UN-Habitat and other key stakeholders in the urban field 

IHS works with global leaders in the field of urban development, including UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and ICLEI, and with leading universities in the Netherlands and around the world to ensure additional academic resources for our students.

#4 for Public Administration

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#13 for Development Studies

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#80 Worldwide

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Apply for the Strategic Urban Planning & Policies track

Fifth round of applications: 1 June - 1 July 2023

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