You will learn to see the city, to hear it, to understand it, to engage it, and to choose your role in shaping it. As the world continues to urbanize and globalize, cities are becoming the predominant form of human settlement and the scale at which many of the most pressing societal issues are engaged. The Master in Urban Studies brings a distinctly European viewpoint to issues concerning urbanity and urbanization that are simultaneously locally unique and globally networked.
The Standard Track of the Master in Urban Studies is jointly organised by Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles. The 120 ECTS curriculum combines the attractiveness of a flexible, modular, and interdisciplinary program that allows you to focus on your own interests, with a common core of compulsory courses to ensure that you develop the necessary urban skills and competencies.
The 4CITIES Track is a unique two-year interdisciplinary and international program. It has been selected as an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course. There are three separate tracks that students in 4CITIES follow: Classical, Research, and Practice. The first year is the same for all three tracks. Students in the Classical Track spend the third and fourth semesters together, following a shared curriculum in Copenhagen and Madrid. This is how 4CITIES has been organized since it began in 2008, hence “classical.” Students in the Research and Practice tracks spend their second year interning at an approved research institution or work placement, respectively and completing 25 ECTS of self-chosen coursework at a 4CITIES partner institution. These tracks have been designed for students who intend to pursue careers in research and practice, respectively.
Excursions and visits
Experiencing the city is key to understanding the city. During the two years, several excursions and visits will be organized to illustrate and discuss topics treated during the courses. This includes visits to public and private institutions and organizations that are important for the local political, economic, and cultural dynamics of the respective city and wider region.
The Standard Track students will go on a set of national and international excursions, ranging from one to several days. During these excursions, the objective is to raise awareness of regional and international differences in urban development. The excursions consist of guided tours and visits to relevant institutions and organizations, such as planning departments, development agencies, cultural actors, and more.
The 4CITIES students will be given a topic in each of the cities to study in groups through extensive fieldwork. Fieldwork is organized in close cooperation with non-academic urban institutions and organizations and is closely linked to ongoing academic research in the city of residence.
Globalization: the processes of globalization and localization - as a general context leading to a renewed importance of the city and urbanity in the 21st century. The city is considered a nodal point in post-national developments.
Europe as the unit of analysis: Europe and the European unification process is seen as part of and a reaction to this globalization process. Our scope is Europe seen through its cities and urban networks.
Interdisciplinarity and internationalism: as a surplus-value. The Master in Urban Studies is a thematic master's program focused on transdisciplinary approaches and transdisciplinary practices (not the least bridging urban planning and urban sociology, geography, etc) with a focus on the socio-spatial analysis of cities.
Education builds on strong cases: Brussels (capital of EU, small global city) – Copenhagen (the Scandinavian mode of regulation), Vienna (metropolis at the center of Europe: gateway to the East), Madrid (the Mediterranean cities), and a number of surrounding cities.
The importance of fieldwork: research experience in each city and comparative or translational research as the basis for a final master's thesis.
A number of excursions and visits: a central attractor will be that we incorporate well-prepared excursions in each block. Each excursion will incorporate a socio-spatial introduction to the city (a city walk) and an institutional visit with a focus on certain aspects of policy or management. Moreover, a number of projects and institutions will be visited.