MSc Urban Management and Development

Study programme

The MSc in Urban Management and Development is a 12-month English-taught multidisciplinary programme offered in six specialisation tracks. This structure allows IHS students to specialise within their chosen field whilst benefiting from a broader understanding of urban management offered at IHS.

Cities are in a constant state of unprecedented change. Between now and 2030, urban areas are expected to triple in surface and by 2050, 68% of the population will reside in cities. Population movements of this scale create multi-level physical, economic, environmental and social challenges. To remain sustainable, liveable and competitive cities need urban managers who are well-trained in policy development and good governance. The MSc programme focuses on socio-spatial dynamics in planning, climate resilience, local economic innovation, housing from a human rights and gender perspective, sustainability and green cities (infrastructure, energy and water), land law and finance, and regenerative natural resource management.

The MSc is designed to equip students with the skills to solve contemporary urban issues in their countries through progressive policy-making. A key feature of the programme is the use of
comparative methodologies to discuss urban issues, policies and trends from around the world.

Specialisation tracks

  • Smart and resilient cities are essential in tackling the growing threat of climate instability. This learning track focuses on different analytical and practical approaches to foster resilience and environmental sustainability in urban areas world-wide.

  • In the face of continuous urban growth, the need for cities to become greener and more sustainable has never been more pressing.This specialisation track focuses on how local governments can manage, finance and provide infrastructure to deliver quality services while improving the cities’ green performance. Key topics include the switch to a circular economy, renewable energy, green transport and infrastructure (incl. drainage) and sanitation, and the provision of drinking water.

  • Cities are complex, dynamic systems, influenced by different stakeholders, which requires a more flexible approach. This specialisation track delves deeper into how planning can respond flexibly to the urban dynamics and how various stakeholders can engage in the co-production of a commonly desired urban development. 

  • In a global economy, cities and regions are in a perpetual state of competition. This specialisation track examines how cities use innovation and entrepreneurship to drive growth and build economic resilience.

  • The access to adequate housing is a perpetual global challenge and a process often tainted by political, social and economic exclusion and injustice. This specialisation track focuses on evaluating the complex process of providing adequate housing from a human rights and gender perspective.

  • The governance and management of land, water and natural resources are fundamental to how cities work and how human settlements develop. The way land and natural resources are accessed and managed affects the development of equitable and sustainable cities. Growing urbanisation puts pressure on natural resources, increases the inequality among city stakeholders, the risk of disasters and contribute to unsustainable urban development patterns.

How is your year organised?

In the first and second block, the programme shares courses on urban theory, governance, policy, planning, and public-private partnerships, and local government finance and investment with the other specialisation tracks. However, your assignments within the course modules, as well as the action planning workshop, are always track-specific. In the third block of the programme, your courses will only be track-specific with the possibility to take an extra elective course. In the fourth block of the programme you will strengthen your research skills through research methods courses and workshops and write your Master’s thesis on a topic relevant to your specialisation track. Some example research topics are listed below. Other topics can also be accepted if approved by the coordinators of the specialisation track and the thesis supervisor.