Programme overview

Urban Governance

The study programme in a nutshell

The programme offers a varied set of courses (obligatory and elective), seminars, working groups sessions, and a series of guest lectures by internationally well-known scholars. Furthermore, you conduct your own research project (thesis) in which you apply theories and social scientific research methods to examine urban governance issues.

Mode of education

The programme provides courses and training in real life settings giving an opportunity to learn and practice scientific and managerial skills. It includes a variety of teaching methodologies aimed at interaction between teachers and students, between students and practitioners and between students themselves.

Next to general lectures given by leading scholars in the field, pedagogical games such as action planning, fieldwork and excursions are part of the teaching methods. The courses provide the most recent theoretical and empirical insights in urban governance. Practical and professional skills are developed in the urban governance labs, including working group sessions and seminars. Inspirational guest lectures enable a knowledge and experience transfer from experts in the field. The urban governance labs are further used to build group identity among the students.

The curriculum is subject to alteration. No rights may be derived from this information (including the information via the links).


Block 1

This course focuses on two modules: urban governance and public-private partnerships. Firstly, urban governance focuses on understanding the complex nature of cities. This module elaborates on why urban governance is essential for sustainable development and introduces different theories that underpin good governance.  The second module explains why public-private partnerships are imperative mechanisms to implement and institutionalize urban policy. This module introduces participants to different rationale, objectives and forms of PPPs and assesses under what conditions they are successful. (5 ECTS)

Urban economies are primarily coordinated by market transactions which take place at an (inter)national level. The ability of urban governments to influence markets is limited and widely discussed. The course adopts a network governance perspective, debating how varying combinations of markets and (non-)state actors steer local economic development. The course starts by discussing multi-disciplinary factors driving economic growth before zooming in on transitions towards resilient urban economies. (5 ECTS)

Governments have to often deal with issues like flood protection, regeneration of urban neighborhoods and care of its citizens under dynamic and volatile circumstances with many players. Here, straightforward, top-down approaches often fail to deliver results. This course elaborates on the crucial role of understanding all the moving parts in an ever-evolving environment and how it can be used to create and implement effective policies. (5 ECTS)

This course, running from Block 1 through Block 3, focuses on equipping students with practical tools and abilities to cope with the complex issues they are likely to face in the field. Students evaluate utilize proper action perspectives, incorporate modules learned from other courses and acquire necessary soft-skills like co-creation, negotiation a network-learning. Different learning tools are used including simulation games and real and fictional case studies. (5 ECTS in total (block running from block 1 -3)

Block 2

 This course focuses on the necessary tools needed to become a public manager within public and non-profit organizations, governments or public agencies. Students will develop knowledge and insight into public management, and in particular strategic management within this setting and examine strategic issues public managers are likely to be confronted with and approaches to solve them. The programme accomplishes this by addressing strategic management as a practice, and equipping students with necessary creative and analytical competencies. (5 ECTS)

Governance often remains stagnant, often due to conflicting values and perceptions. Network management is a necessary tool to facilitate interaction and cooperation among different stakeholders to create effective strategic outcomes. This course analyzes the complex nature of such interactive governance networks to determine innovative solutions to fit different circumstances. Special attention is devoted to leadership styles that can be adapted to varying circumstances. (5 ECTS)

According to UNDP in 2018, more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas. This figure is expected to rise to 6.5 billion- two-thirds of all humanity by 2050, making clear that sustainable development will require transforming how urban spaces are managed. This course links theory and research findings to explore how contemporary urban spatial planning theories address the complexity of cities. Students will reflect on the meaning of spatial layers and scale, and introduce the concept of urban justice. This knowledge is then integrated to reflect on which urban governance approach facilitates spatial transformation. (5 ECTS)

Please find the description of this course under Block 1. (5 ECTS in total (block running from block 1 -3)

Block 3

This course focuses on creating a research design for the master thesis. In this course, the topics of the research question, theoretical framework, conceptual design, operationalization and methods are discussed. For each topic a separate session (interactive lecture) is scheduled. While the master thesis will be written during the third and fourth block, students will also have two sessions with their supervisor for the duration of this course. (5 ECTS)

During this period, students will be allowed to choose an elective of interest from a diverse assortment of subjects provided by ESSB and IHS.  (5 ECTS)

The final thesis takes the form of an individual research project. The student can choose the topic, but it must be relevant to the study program. The students are matched with a supervisor at the start of block 3 who will often be lecturers they have engaged with in the previous courses. This course allows students to demonstrate a number of research skills. An internship is not a part of this program. When the research project is approved, the thesis will be defended in front of the delegated examination board. (15 ECTS in total, see next block)

Please find the description for this course under Block 1. (5 ECTS in total (block running from block 1 -3)

Block 4

Please find the description for this course under Block 3 - Master’s Thesis Start. (15 ECTS in total, see previous block)

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