Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning (Leuven)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

As an internationally oriented program developing a critical understanding of contemporary conditions of cities and urban regions, the Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning aims to cultivate innovative concepts and strategies for qualitative interventions in urban territories through design, planning, and policies. It prepares students for leadership roles in urban design, urban development and management, and strategic planning, with a special focus on European-wide urban problems.

What is the Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning about?

The Master of Science in Urbanism and Strategic Planning (MaUSP) is a four-semester academic degree offered within the Faculty of Engineering Science by the Department of Architecture. The program interacts with research conducted by the research groups active in the department.

The MaUSP program is part of the European Postgraduate Masters in Urbanism (EMU), and students can apply to attend one or two semesters abroad at one of the partner universities - UPC Barcelona, TU Delft or IUAV Venezia - to obtain the additional European Postgraduate Master of Urbanism.

The joint EMU program is a collaborative effort bringing together the best components of existing curricula, creating new courses and offering a top-ranking professional degree by combining the specificity and strengths of the participating universities. The consortium functions as a platform for promoting an exchange of knowledge, ideas, and research projects on current urban trends in Europe and the world.

Courses are organized according to the following set up:

  • Core courses
  • Design studios
  • Optional courses
  • Final design thesis

Design studios form the heart of the program, a status reflected in their credit load. They are organized as two full days of work on Mondays and Tuesdays to provide an intensive and immersive working environment, as occurs in most professional practices. They also are courses where a balance between teamwork and individual contribution is developed since students are subdivided into small but varied groups from inception.

Depending on the track students choose (urbanism or planning), certain optional courses become compulsory.

For more detailed information about the program, admission requirements and application, check our website.


  • Guest lectures and seminars form an important part of the program. Most are compulsory. The program benefits from the department’s worldwide contacts in the field of human settlements and urbanism. Professionals involved in teaching, design and consultancy activities from different comers of the world reflect the international character of the MaUSP curriculum.
  • Study trips to various destinations are organized throughout the academic year. You will be able to see and experience the area studied and will have the unique opportunity to link your theoretical knowledge to daily practice and fieldwork. The trips include visits to sites, lectures by local experts, as well as a range of assignments. Recent study trips in Europe have been made to France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and the UK. Furthermore, one-day visits within Belgium are organized to support courses and provide an understanding of local current trends in urban transformations. As a key feature of the program, a study trip, and studio-related fieldwork sessions are offered in a non-Western context. You will be given the opportunity to travel to the non-European studio context for fieldwork and visits to best practices sites and other relevant sites for about two weeks.
  • Annual design workshops (EMU) are a compulsory and crucial activity offered by KU Leuven and the other three partner universities (IUAV Venice, UPC Barcelona, and TU Delft). This weeklong exchange of ideas and exposure to four different school approaches intensifies and broadens the program’s purpose. To date, students have had the opportunity to undertake design investigations in Conegliano (Italy), in the area of Pra dei Gai and the area around Venice.
  • A unique position within the educational landscape of Belgium and internationally, since MaUSP is the only English-language program in the field of Urbanism and Strategic Planning in Flanders.
  • MaUSP continues to provide high-level education for candidates aspiring to positions as urban planners in Flanders, regardless of its international orientation.
  • Strong research-by-design basis, with an emphasis on space as a resource (in urban transformations) and as a medium of integration, hence the role of planning and design.
  • A diversity of incoming students, both in terms of geographic origin and in terms of professional/educational backgrounds.
  • A Strong network of alumni and a sound reputation despite its young age, which fosters an active system of collaborations supporting the selection of design studio topics, Master’s thesis topics, etc. (examples: T.OP Limburg; Leidal; T.OP Noord Rand; UN-Habitat; etc.).
  • Quality and quantity of visiting faculties and international speakers as a part of lecture series, studio juries and showcase events such as World Urbanisms.
  • Synergy Ma.H.S. – MaUSP – EMU.
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations (e.g. European Module Spatial Development Planning, etc.).

Application deadline for 2018-2019

  • 1 March 2018 (for non-EEA citizens)
  • 1 June 2018 (for EEA citizens)

KU Leuven uses an online application system. You can download and submit your application form via Students with a Flemish degree can consult

Tuition Fee

For more information about our tuition fees, please visit

Is this the right program for me?

The ideal prospective student has a firm foundational knowledge of architecture and planning, exceptional results from previous studies, and a special desire to address European-wide urban problems. Practical experience in design offices, consultancy firms, planning or policymaking councils is beneficial. Proven, extensive and highly regarded personal experience can compensate for deficiencies in academic qualification.

Graduates are recognized in Flanders as urban planners, if they comply with certain rules pertaining to their choice of design studios and courses, thus being eligible for certain positions as public servants.

Career Paths

After successfully completing the program, you will have acquired a thorough knowledge of urbanization in different contexts. You will have learned to work on various scale levels, with an understanding of the interferences between scales. You will be able to conduct a critical analysis of spatial phenomena in relation to the social and economic forces driving them. Building upon such analysis, you can design strategic interventions that are politically and economically feasible, and that have a structural impact. You will have developed excellent communication skills, visually as well as textually, and you will be able to function in a research environment.

Graduates will be able to provide professional architectural and/or urban design experience to design offices, consultancy firms, or work as public servants. Urbanism is closely related to current and rapid social transformation and there is a continual need for professionals capable of elaborating new interpretations, strategies, and designs in response to emerging trends. MaUSP graduates are highly valued in urban design offices, consultancy firms for urban development and management, real estate agencies that develop public-private partnerships and the public sector.


The Advanced Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning (MaUSP) program achieves the learning outcomes described below through a 120 credits professional training program taught and tutored by internationally respected specialists from both academic and professional spheres. The program serves a small group of select international candidates with advanced design skills or an equivalent background related to urbanism and/or planning.

This general objective can be translated into the following learning outcomes:

  1. Graduates have mastered the state-of-the-art in academic theory and day-to-day methods and have obtained the skills to practice as an urbanism and strategic planning professional.
  2. Graduates have acquired the ability to conceive and design spatial interventions and strategies that have the capacity to positively affect complex developments such as contemporary urbanization and give expression to a critical vision on the spatial organization of today's society. This implies that graduates have gained a deep understanding of the dynamic and multifunctional aspects of the built environment through critical analysis design approaches.
  3. Graduates have mastered the research methods, planning tools and state-of-the-art design practices in urbanism and strategic planning.
  4. Graduates are able to creatively combine the research and design-driven natures of their disciplines.
  5. Like their cohorts in the Master of Human Settlements (Ma.H.S.) program, MaUSP graduates have experience in team-based interdisciplinary research and studio work in order to prepare them to constructively act and work in a multilevel and multisectoral environment, which often involves partaking in multidisciplinary teams.
  6. By exposure to stimulating exchanges and interactive feedback between academic analysis and day-to-day practice, graduates have acquired the ability to operate as 'reflective practitioners', which means promoting approaches that include reflection (theory, history, critique) as well as action (in the form of design research and strategy development) but also self-reflection (self-criticism and reorientation, personal development through communication and co-learning).
  7. Graduates are familiar with methods and have acquired skills for intervention which reflect context-responsive concepts of sustainable development at different scale levels.

In a professional capacity, graduates of the Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning program will consequently be expected to have acquired the following:


  • Graduates are aware of various contexts of urbanization in Europe and the wider world. They have insight into how the built environment emerged, grew and transformed and understand how the disciplines of urbanism and spatial planning operate in the processes of urbanization.
  • Graduates have insight in design methods based on a deep analysis of the ongoing forces and phenomena that determine today's urbanization.
  • Graduates understand how urbanism and spatial planning as professional fields relate to other selected professional disciplines (sociology, economy, geography, etc.).
  • Graduates understand, as Ma.H.S. graduates do within the field of human settlements, the relationship between policies at various levels (worldwide, international, national, local) and the professional approaches and initiatives of urbanism and strategic planning.


  • Graduates are able to scientifically formulate a (development) problem in the built environment and propose a method or approach for solving the problem and applying it to offer a solution. Furthermore, graduates are able to focus on the strategic project in an integral way. That is, they will be able to directly intervene in what is politically and economically feasible, yet exert an effect in time and scale that exceeds the hic et nunc.
  • Graduates are able to recognize the link between the participatory visioning of a strategic project, its design (in terms of concept, form, and strategy) and its implementation (in terms of adequate, feasible and timely project management, development and assessment).
  • Graduates have insight in the design methods based on the deep analysis of ongoing forces and phenomena of urbanization as mentioned above and have mastered these methods. This includes searching for, selecting and assessing sources of information. This analytical capacity is complemented with the capacity to conceive, develop and express interventions on various scale levels.
  • Graduates are able to address the different scales relevant in urbanism and urban planning, with the intention of stressing the interrelations between them.
  • Graduates are capable of communicating acquired knowledge in a well-structured and clear manner, orally, textually and graphically.


  • Graduates have a result-oriented planning and design attitude that effectively brings the (legitimate) interests of the different stakeholders in a planning or design project closer together and furthers a spatial policy aimed at the implementation of a coherent vision.
  • Like to their cohorts in the Ma.H.S. program, graduates have developed a critical and open attitude enabling them to appreciate the value and contextual relevance of information and evaluate proposals of interventions.
  • Like to their cohorts in the Ma.H.S. program, graduates have developed attitudes enabling them to learn from others and cooperate with professionals and other actors in society at large and with stakeholders involved in strategic interventions in particular.

Further Studies

When allowed:

  • Master of Conservation of Monuments and Sites (Leuven)
Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked ... Read More

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked among the top 100 in the world. Read less
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