MSc Urban Management and Development

Study programme

The cities of today are complex, continuously evolving and face challenges on multiple levels. To stay sustainable and competitive in this ever-changing urban environment, cities need to balance their economic, environmental and physical, and social challenges with forward-looking urban policies. We think that contemporary cities need trained and innovative urban managers with skills in action and strategic planning, policy analysis, research methods and negotiation, and communication to be able to manage the complex urban multidisciplinary environment.  

This is why we designed our programme to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to become competent urban managers by offering an in-depth insight into urban issues, policies and trends around the world through a blend of lectures with case studies, discussions, working groups, group assignments and field visits and field work. The master programme is divided into three main periods: a core period, a specialisation period (offers 6 different options) and a thesis period. Below you can find more information about the programme structure and the knowledge you will gain during each period.

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More specifically, you will be looking into questions like (but not limited to):

What are the dynamics of urban growth? How do you manage a city in a holistic way? What about creating urban land and space use policies that reflect the “New Urban Agenda” goals? What are the theories that underpin good urban governance? Under what conditions are Public Private Partnerships (PPP) successful vehicles for urban development? How can local governments finance urban infrastructure? What is the right way to assess a social policy in the view of a paradigm shift?

Core period: Blocks 1 & 2

During this period you get an in-depth insight into urban theories, policies and trends worldwide. This is offered in the form lectures and workshops on real world urban issues, urban governance and policy-making and the financial and economic aspect of tackling those. The course is divided into core modules and intermediary periods leading to a specialization period of 6 different areas of urban expertise. It will study cities from different multidisciplinary thematic perspectives such as “Complex City”, “Spatial City”, “Sustainable City”, “Green City”, “Livable City”, “Informal City” and “Competitive City”. 

Urban Theory and "Gaining from Land Use Transactions - GLUT" interactive workshop - 6 ECTSUrban Governance, Policy, Planning and  Public Private Partnerships - 5.5 ECTS
Local Government Finance and Investments - 3.5 ETCSAction planning workshop - 1.5 ECTS


Specialisation period: Block 3

The specialisation period allows participants to gain an enhanced understanding of a certain aspect of urban management and development depending on their academic and professional orientation and interests. It combines lectures and participatory methodologies such as workshops, simulations games, seminars and group work and it is designed to emphasize the link between theory and practice. There are 6 different specialisation tracks available:

Urban Strategies and Planning (USP) - 15 ECTS


  • theory and conceptualization: collaborative planning, strategic planning, etc.
  • place-making and visioning
  • from vision and quality to objective and intervention
  • implementation plan

Urban Environment and Climate Change (URBEC) - 15 ECTS


  • environmental and climate multi-governance
  • urban environment & climate change policy analysis & instruments 
  • assessment methodologies & decision support tools
  • framework for cost and benefits

Managing Infrastructure for Green Cities (MIGC) - 15 ECTS


  • management & governance of the infrastructure sector
  • links with other urban fields
  • key issues of infrastructure resilience, greening, energy efficiency, renewable energy

Urban Land Governance (ULG) - 15 ECTS


  • land markets, policies and instruments
  • land and property; land rights, taxation
  • land use zoning

Urban Competitiveness and Resilience (UCR) - 15 ECTS


  • theoretical background (relevant theories on UCR and the annual theme)
  • developing technical skills for answering research questions through data analysis
  • applied research

Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice (UHES) - 15 ECTS


  • housing theory
  • functioning of the housing sector
  • livelihood theory
  • from welfare state to a participatory society
  • trends and paradigms in housing and social policies
  • creating liveable neighborhoods
  • Rotterdam field work


Thesis period: Block 4

The thesis period opens with a course on Research Methods & Techniques together with workshops specifically on Urban Research which offer participants the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to conduct academic research and complete their Master’s thesis. The students work under the guidance of their thesis supervisor and with the support of the IHS academic staff to develop their thesis. See on what topics other students did their Master’s thesis here.

Please note that depending on your choice of location, the field work period could involve additional costs.

Research Methods and Techniques - 8 ECTS

Urban Research Workshops - 10 ECTS
Field Work & Master Thesis - 18.5 ECTS


MSc in Urban Management and Development

Tailor your Master's with one of our six specialisation tracks.

Apply here
    • Blocks 1 & 2 - October to December

      • 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 others 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.

    • Block 3 - January to March

      • In today’s context of an overwhelming urban world population, rapidly growing cities with informal housing, social deprivation and economic decline, the Urban Strategies and Planning (USP) specialisation analyses urban socio-spatial dynamics from an urban planning perspective.

      • The Urban Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change (UESC) specialisation aims to provide up-to-date knowledge on how to develop and manage green, low carbon, resilient and adaptive cities.

      • The Managing and Financing Urban Infrastructure (MFUI) specialisation provides hands-on knowledge and expertise on how local governments can most efficiently provide, manage, finance and operate municipal infrastructure assets to deliver desired levels of services to help cities become greener (more sustainable).

      • The Urban Competitiveness and Resilience (UCR) specialisation focuses on understanding the relationship between global, regional and local economic development; social wellbeing and addressing important issues of urban competitiveness and resilience.

      • The Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice (UHES) specialisation focuses on evaluating the complex process of housing in relation to equity and social justice.

      • Land is a critical and scarce resource for city managers in the entire process of urban management as land is needed to achieve vital social, economic and environmental goals. The  Urban Land Governance (ULG) specialisation aims to equip participants with the theories, tools and lessons from practice necessary to critically evaluate the land sector in cities and peri-urban areas. 

    • Block 4 - April to September