MSc Specialisation: Urban Land Governance (ULG)

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 objective of the Urban Land Governance (ULG) specialisation is to equip Urban Management and Development (UMD) participants with the theories, tools and lessons from practice necessary to critically evaluate the land sector in cities and peri-urban areas. This includes understanding the fundamental complexity of land and natural resources in an urban setting and interpreting, with a multidisciplinary approach, the nature of urban land markets, rights to land and the formal and informal institutions. These play a role in managing land and land rights, and the objectives and interests of different actors, as a basis for more balanced growth, greater equity and urban resilience.

ULG is organised around three content clusters:

  • Land rights and the rule of law
    This cluster deals with the legal framework of land, issues that affect access to land and the consequences of the absence of the rule of law.
  • Land markets and finance
    This cluster covers basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets.
  • Land, water, and natural resources
    This last cluster addresses the topic of sustainable use and management of urban land, water and natural resources as a complex, multi-layered challenge, which cuts across sectors and jurisdictions.

ULG builds theoretical and practical knowledge, through a variety of teaching methods, which include a combination of workshops, pedagogical games, debates, seminars, and excursions/study trips to different parts of the Netherlands. 

The Equitable Urban Land Governance (EULG) research workshop consists of two workshops and four colloquiums that will help prepare you to carry out scientific research on a land and/or land and water governance topic of your choosing. EULG focuses on the notions of equity and sustainability and the need to design land policies and instruments that can help to address market failure and protect vulnerable members of society, as well as the environment, from the excesses of land markets.


The ULD specialization offers a well-structured knowledge package of land instruments. The collaboration of IHS and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy invited internationally known experts from different parts of the world to share their academic expertise here at IHS. This specialization is not merely a session of lectures, but a practical ‘game’ of using land instruments.” – Xiaozhou (Jammy) Zhu, China, master’s student 2013-2014

ULG Master Theses

Master participants are welcome to do scientific and applied research with topics related to:

  • Land acquisition: expropriation and compensation; Displacement and relocation.
  • Special land use zoning: Inclusionary zoning; Zoning and takings; Compulsory development and auction.
  • Assembling land: Land readjustment; Problems and preconditions, procedures, obstacles and implementation; Land sharing; Land banking; Sites and services.
  • Public land leasing: Conditions, methods and implications; Capturing, planning, reserving, promoting and preserving land.
  • Created land and selling building rights: Negotiating interlinked operations; Certificates of additional building rights; Transfer of development rights.
  • Land tenure and property rights: Tenure types, methodological aspects; Freeholds, leasehold, state and customary tenure; Community land trusts.
  • Land and housing finance: Financing large urban projects; Development and construction loans; Housing mortgages; Housing subsidies.
  • Land and property taxation: Types of taxes; Revenue equation; Tax frequency, classes, incidence and base; Valuating tax base: non market and market approaches; Rates and exemptions; Administrative issues; Economic development and social policy.
  • Land Markets: Formal and informal land markets; Speculative land markets, distorted valuation practices and real estate bubble bursts; Development exactions and charges; Residual value of land and capitalisation of land rent; Unequal distribution of costs and benefits of land use and development.
  • Land, water and natural resources: Land and water governance; Resilience in relation to land, water and natural resources; Water sensitive cities and the role of land management; Risk (e.g. flooding, drought) and the role of land development in exacerbating risk; Urban agriculture (food security) and natural resources (ecosystem services).
MSc Urban Management & Development: Urban Land Governance Specialisation

Urban Land Governance

Lecturers and Associate Lecturers:




IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Paul Rabé

Urban Land Governance Coordinator. Senior Expert in Urban Policy and Governance. Coordinator of the Urban Knowledge Network Asia, Leiden University

IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Ore Fika

Land Expert in Urban Land and Housing Development. UMD Programme Manager

IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Carlos Morales-Schechinger

Former Urban Land Development Coordinator at IHS. Senior Expert in Land Markets and Finance. Senior fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

University of Wisconsin-Madison and Radboud University Nijmegen

Harvey M. Jacobs

Associate Lecturer. Professor in Urban and Regional Planning. Senior Expert in Public Policy and Property Rights

Geoffrey Payne and Associates

Geoffrey Payne

Associate Lecturer. Senior Expert in Housing and Urban Development


Claudio Acioly Jr.

Associate Lecturer. Senior Land Expert. Head of Capacity Building Unit of UN-Habitat

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Martim O. Smolka

Associate Lecturer. Senior Land Expert. Director, Programme on Latin America and the Caribbean

IHE Delft

William Veerbeek

Associate Lecturer. Senior Expert in Architecture and Urban Planning. Research fellow at the Flood Resilience Group, IHE Delft

IHE Delft

Chris Zevenbergen

Associate Lecturer. Professor at the Water Engineering Department and Coordinator of the Flood Resilience Group, IHE Delft