Cities and regions throughout the world face challenges that require integrated knowledge of urban geography, economic geography, international development studies, and planning. In this Research Master’s programme in Urban and Economic Geography (previously known as Human Geography and Planning), you will gain a broad theoretical and methodological background that will allow you to become an academic or professional researcher of ongoing social, spatial, and economic developments in cities and regions. You can specialise in your preferred geographic sub-discipline while maintaining a broader perspective on the functioning of cities and regions, as well as the relevant theories and methods.
Globalisation is subjecting cities and regions to continuous challenges such as increasing urbanisation and growing economic and social interdependences. Complex and dynamic relationships have developed between inhabitants, migrants, businesses, and institutions, and these relationships can foster innovation, creativity, and economic growth.
However, increasing urbanisation can also lead to social and economic inequalities, tensions between groups with different lifestyles, and threats to health and well-being. In addition, globalisation can reinforce economic disparities within regions and cities in both developed and developing countries. Environmental changes can also generate unhealthy living conditions and lead to a displacement of people and businesses. In general, regional and urban areas worldwide experience disparate development due to differences in their position in globalised systems; their location in a developed or developing country or region; and specific cultural, social, political, and economic characteristics.
As a student in this two-year Master’s programme, you will focus on research questions such as:
Why do regions and cities differ in terms of economic and innovative performance, creativity, and quality of life?
How do social and economic inequality and tensions arise within and between cities and regions?
How do individuals and businesses experience changes in their urban and regional conditions, and how do they respond to these changes?
Which governance systems and policies are most effective in addressing the social, economic, cultural, and mobility issues of the globalised and urbanised world?
How can we use and develop scientific theories and methodologies to investigate these issues?
Research Skills and Ethics
The course content includes various courses on research skills and philosophy in order for you to acquire both advanced research skills and an ethical framework. You will also participate in research, carry out your own research, and discuss your research with peers and advanced researchers throughout the programme. You will form an integral part of the research community at the Urban Future research centre (UF) of Utrecht during your studies.
In Urban and Economic Geography, you will study the reasons behind the diverse developments in the globalised and urbanised world, and you will learn to translate up-to-date theoretical and methodological developments into empirical research. You will also formulate effective policy recommendations to make cities and regions more viable and sustainable.
As a graduate, you will have an excellent basis for completing a PhD in the fields of urban geography, economic geography, development studies, and urban and regional planning. You will also qualify for senior research functions within international and national organisations, such as the United Nations, Dutch ministries, regional and local bodies, NGOs, and multinational companies. You will be able to perform advanced scientific research within the fields of human geography and spatial planning.
This programme will equip you with the ability to critically assess research designs and results and policy implications. This will give you an excellent basis for either a PhD research position at a university or a senior position in national or international companies and research institutions.
As a graduate, you will be eligible for PhD research or senior research and other positions in organisations such as government ministries, regional and local authorities, urban and country planning consultancies, and private research institutes.
Many of our recent graduates find jobs in companies (31%), while the second-largest group of our graduates choose an academic career by entering a PhD programme in the Netherlands or abroad (26%), or by starting research-teaching activities at a university (10%). A few of our students found employment with non-academic research institutions (18%).
An excellent basis for PhD
This Master’s programme provides you with an excellent basis for state-of-the-art PhD research in human geography and urban and regional planning. The programme ties in particularly well with PhD programmes at the NETHUR (Netherlands Graduate School of Urban and Regional Research) institutes. Generally, MSc graduates in Urban and Economic Geography do not have to fulfil any additional requirements before starting their Ph.D., which means they can usually complete their PhD in three years.
If you want to find a job or internship in the Netherlands, knowing Dutch will get you places. Even if you work within an international organisation, knowing at least some Dutch is always a benefit and in some cases even a requirement. In order to learn Dutch, free language websites such as duolingo.com or dutchgrammar.com can get you started or take a look at the Dutch courses offered by Babel. As a student from Utrecht University, you receive a 25% discount on their course offerings.
If you want to stay in the Netherlands after your graduation, you can apply for the ‘residence permit orientation year’. This permit can be submitted within 3 years after completing your studies and allows you unlimited working rights (hence: a work permit –TWV- is not required). For an overview of the conditions that apply for this permit, please visit the IND website.