Urban Housing, Equity & Social Justice
Adequate Housing from a Human Rights and Gender Perspective

Study programme

The access to adequate housing is a perpetual global challenge and a process often tainted by political, social and economic exclusion and injustice. This master track offers the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the main principles behind the provision of adequate housing. Participants will apply these principles in assessing the design, implementation and outcomes of housing policies. Besides, they will learn how to devise the best possible mechanisms that foster the realisation of the 5 A’s Principles of Adequate Housing: namely availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and adaptability.

The Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice programme is a specialisation track within the MSc in Urban Management and Development, which offers students the opportunity to assess the provision of housing in relation to equity and socio-spatial justice. Equity in housing is seen as the role that policies and institutional frameworks in recognising and meeting people’s housing needs under their circumstances. Social justice in housing is concerned with ensuring that housing is universally considered a basic need and a human right. It strives to evaluate the redistribution of housing-related benefits and the procedures behind realising adequate housing for all.

Students of the master track will learn how rapid urbanisation processes trigger inequality, informality and injustice. The results of these developments in urban areas often manifest in informal settlements, displacement and resettlement in inappropriate locations, gentrification, spatial segregation and gated communities among other socio-spatial injustices. The master track also pays special attention to inclusive land governance aspects. The housing sector is a major contributor to global warming and climate change, and creating sustainable human settlements is vital. Thus, the master track incorporates sustainable building strategies that contribute to climate change adaptation, mitigation and housing resilience. Key topics addressed in the master track are assessed against the issues of gender inequality, poverty alleviation and urban livelihoods so that students may determine the role public, private, market and society actors plays in the provision of housing.

The master track equips students with the ability to apply the 5 A’s Principles of Adequate Housing through different assessment tools such as case study analysis, housing ecosystem analysis, house value chain analysis, stakeholder analysis in the housing sector, housing needs assessment and climate change adaptation strategies in housing.

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

    • Understand how the housing sector works from a governance and economic point of view.
    • Analyse how formal and informal housing processes influence inequity and injustice in urban areas by:
      • Understanding formal housing policies, including  the paradigm shift in housing policies, the concepts related to the current paradigm and the criticism of the current paradigm in relationship to the housing challenge; and
      • Understanding informal housing processesin response to dysfunctional official policies. 
    • Apply and analyse the principles of adequate housing, namely availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and adaptability in housing policies and approaches.
    • Critically reflect on the application of the principles of housing availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and adaptability for realizing adequate housing and housing rights.
    • Evaluate to what extent current approaches to formal and informal housing address the housing challenge in relation to the provision of adequate housing, equity and socio-spatial justice (i.e. housing justice).

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.

    • Coping with Development-induced displacement and resettlement: An analysis of spatial transformation of restoring livelihood in a case of Gopalganj resettlement project in Bangladesh
    • The role of freedom of choice within the Baan Mankong program: The case of Kaen Nahkon community’s relocation
  • 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.

    • 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. 

    • 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.

    • 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

    • This module looks at trends and paradigm changes in housing policies, with special focus on the Global South. It looks into the different housing and land policy approaches that are necessary for making housing accessible and affordable for all.  Through the understanding of people’s housing needs the primary objective of housing policies is achieved. Participants therefore have the opportunity to present the current housing policy situation in their own context and reflect on the challenges ahead regarding the provision of affordable housing for those in need.

    • This module goes deeper into the issues of housing affordability by looking at the relationship between the housing sector and the economy. The operating principles of housing demand and supply, in both formal and informal markets, are discussed. Based on these sessions, the module continues by exploring some conventional and less-conventional (government) interventions in the housing market by looking at selected housing and land-based finance instruments that are aimed at increasing housing affordability for the urban poor.

    • In this module participants will develop knowledge on socio-spatial justice and related theories. A series of lectures address topics such as social justice and inequality, spatial justice, gentrification and gender in housing. The module introduces in detail the theoretical framework developed by the UHES research team regarding adequate housing. This framework links socio-spatial justice to housing justice and argues that the latter can only be achieved as long as the five principles of adequate housing are fulfilled.  These principles provides an analytical tool to evaluate housing policies and approaches. We call them the 5 A’s principles of adequate housing, namely Availability, Accessibility, Affordability, Acceptability and Adaptability.

    • This module introduces sustainable human settlement-making principles and their performance qualities. These principles are universal and can be applied to e.g. inner city revitalization strategies, new housing projects and slum upgrading interventions. The module continues with the pressing need to plan settlements that are resilient to climate change. It discusses circular economy and energy efficiency in housing, as well as the different climate change adaptation strategies adopted by the housing sector in different contexts.

    • This module provides insights into the different conventional and non-conventional policy approaches and responses to housing across the globe, particularly in the context of urbanization processes driven by informal urban growth. Various preventive and remedial housing policies are critically assessed and discussed. Special attention is devoted to the provision of housing for specific (vulnerable) groups and the need to translate housing polices into approaches that are equitable, just and responsive to people’s housing needs, . Throughout the module, presentation of case studies provides participants with the opportunity to critically assess housing interventions and their outcomes in practice.

    • Choose from: 

      • Cities and migration
      • Understanding international urban policy: SDGs and the NUA
      • GIS methods for urban research
      • Gender in urban theory, practice, and research
      • Inclusive smart cities
      • Urban policy analysis

    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.