MSc in Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice: Adequate Housing from a Human Rights and Gender Perspective


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Program Description

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 learning track offers the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the main principles of adequate housing provision and apply them in assessing existing policies. Students will learn how to devise the best possible mechanisms that foster accessible, affordable, available, acceptable and adaptable housing.

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. From the housing perspective, the specialisation will define equity as the role that policies and institutional frameworks have when recognising people’s needs for housing and ensuring these needs are met in accordance with their particular circumstances. Social justice is concerned with ensuring that housing is universally considered a basic need and a human right. It strives to help realise housing rights and evaluate the redistribution of benefits including access to adequate housing within society.

Key topics within the track include: inequality, informality and injustice, equitable access to housing, affordable housing, housing needs and settlement planning, migration, rights and development-based approaches to housing. These topics are then assessed against issues including urban poverty, gender inequality and gentrification so that students may assess the role of public, private, market and society actors plays in the provision of housing in relation to social equity and gender. The result equips students with the ability to apply of different assessment tools such as stakeholder analysis, housing needs assessment and climate change adaptation strategies in housing to answer urban housing issues.

Course objectives

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 relation to the housing challenge; and
    • Understanding informal housing processes in 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 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.

Thesis research examples
  • Coping with Development-induced displacement and resettlement: An analysis of the 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 Nakhon community’s relocation.
Programme Curriculum

Blocks 1 & 2 - October to January

  • Urban Theory
  • Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and Public-Private Partnership
  • Local Government Finance and Investments
  • Action Planning Workshop

Block 3 - January to April

  • The Governance of the Housing Sector: Equitable Access to Housing
  • The Housing Sector and the Economy: Housing Affordable for All
  • Justice in Housing and Planning: The Right to Adequate Housing
  • Sustainable Housing and Climate Change: Housing for People and the Environment
  • Approaches to Housing: Adequate Housing for All
  • Elective course
    • 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

  • Research Methods and Techniques
  • Urban Research Workshops
  • Field Work and Master Thesis
    • The research process for the thesis is divided into three main steps:
    • The research proposal
    • Data collection and data preparation
    • Data analysis and thesis writing

Why study MasterUrban Housing, Equity and Social Justice

The access to adequate housing is a perpetual global challenge and a process often tainted by political, social and economic exclusion and injustice. In the majority of urban areas, especially in the Global South, the challenge continues to grow through a vicious cycle of inequality and injustice in the redistribution of housing opportunities causing housing poverty and the proliferation of slums. In this programme, you will gain the qualifications to become an urban development professional able to devise the best possible mechanisms that foster accessible, affordable, available, acceptable and adaptable housing.

"I really enjoyed the interactive pedagogical simulations, including a community action planning workshop based on real-life cases."

Rabia Abrar, Canada

Urban Management & Development Alumna

Why study at IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam?

Earn your MSc degree from a top 100 university

Known for its academic rigour and high quality of education, Erasmus University Rotterdam is consistently ranked in the top 3% of the world’s best universities.

Our teaching methods are unique

Alongside IHS teaching and research activities, our faculty members work in the field on real-life cases around the world. Challenges, learnings, and questions from these different contexts are brought back to the classroom and woven into our curriculum.

You apply everything you learn - no dry theory

Students learn through a blend of lectures, real-life case studies, discussions, debates, simulation environments, written assignments, and group work. Field visits and projects in Rotterdam and other Dutch cities provide first-hand exposure to local urban problems. Students have the option to complete their thesis fieldwork abroad and immerse themselves in a relevant urban context to collect data.

We offer a truly international and diverse environment

The IHS classroom is comprised of mid-level professionals and fresh graduates with rich and varied experiences from more than 45 countries. Typical backgrounds include architecture, engineering, planning, economics, social science, environmental science, and housing.

Study in Rotterdam - a hub of sustainable urban innovation

Iconic architecture, pioneering urban planning, and a celebrated multicultural population have thrust Rotterdam to the forefront of innovation and cultivation within the urban world.

Enjoy guest lecturers from UN-Habitat and other key stakeholders in the urban field

IHS works with global leaders in the field of urban development, including UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and ICLEI as well as with leading universities in the Netherlands and around the world to ensure additional academic resources for our students.

What are some of the special features of this track?

Next to earning your MSc diploma from Erasmus University Rotterdam, an institution that is consistently ranked among the top 3% of the world’s best universities, studying the Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice track also means that you will get to:

Learn from an international team of housing specialists

The team teaching in this track consists of highly experienced international housing experts who are also actively involved in on-going real-life projects.

Apply your learnings in a simulated environment

Students apply theories and concepts in practical workshops which are based on a fictional city in the Global South. This experiential learning approach allows students to apply their gained knowledge and skills to an ‘actual’ city in a playful manner.

Get access to a toolkit to assess adequate housing & housing justice

Staff in this track developed a framework called the ‘5A’s which serves as a toolkit to assess adequate housing and housing justice in practice. The principles of the concept are Availability, Accessibility, Affordability, Acceptability and Adaptability of housing.

Benefit from our network of high-profile guest lectures

Students enjoy lectures from are a variety of organisations such as UN-Habitat, the Centre for Affordable Housing in Africa, the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights and the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of TU-Delft. These sessions are also a great networking opportunity.

Conduct your thesis research in a new cultural context abroad

Students in this track have the possibility to conduct their master thesis fieldwork in specific housing-related contexts around the world. The specialisation team builds on deep-rooted collaborations with highly ranked universities and local and international NGOs and CBOs in various countries such as Thailand and India.

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

ESSB is home to a vast diversity of study programmes and scientific disciplines: Public Administration, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology and Sociology. In addition, the Erasmus University College, IHS ... Read More

ESSB is home to a vast diversity of study programmes and scientific disciplines: Public Administration, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology and Sociology. In addition, the Erasmus University College, IHS, and two research institutes RISBO and DRIFT are linked to the faculty. Our education is small-scale and based around Problem Based Learning (PBL). Being connected to the professional field is another characteristic of our study programmes. Read less
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