Description of Study Programme

Professional Orientation

The Master's degree programmes of the special research area "Urban Systems" qualify for a successful career and outstanding responsibility in complex projects of urban development, urban management and urban research.

Each of the two Master's degrees programmes prepares for a distinct professional profile:

Professional profile of the studies in the humanities, social and educational sciences
Professional profile of the studies in engineering, urban planning and design
  • Strategic city planning and development (including: zoning and master planning)
  • Moderating and mediating formal and informal participatory processes in urban development
  • City marketing, city promotion and cultural management (image building and strengthening of soft location factors, management of large-scale events)
  • Consulting of urban projects and urban development ('urban consulting')
  • Urban and metropolitan research
  • Strategic city planning and development (including: zoning and master planning)
  • Assessing and modifying urban infrastructure and transport systems
  • Developing and managing large-scale urban projects (e.g. converting old industrial sites for a variety of new uses, e-city development)
  • Consulting of urban projects and urban development ('urban consulting')
  • Urban and metropolitan research

It is our expressed goal to enable students to work independently and creatively on complex and cross-disciplinary urban problems that are new to them, to identify, describe, analyse and evaluate such problems applying suitable methods; and to devise problem-solving strategies and communicate them properly. In short: We educate students to become internationally savvy, productive and communicative experts for complex urban development projects.

The Master's degree programmes focus on the acquisition of distinct key competences:

Key competences of the studies in the humanities, social  and educational sciences Key competences of the studies in engineering, urban planning and design
  • Fundamentals of urban semiotics and urban hermeneutics, methods for analysing and contextualising cultural forms of expression
  • History of the city/urban spaces
  • Image building for cities and regions, location factors
  • Neighborhood management
  • Moderation and mediation techniques (e.g., for urban planning processes)
  • Methods of quantitative and qualitative studies, use of statistical methods, use of SPSS
  • Intercultural competencies
  • Design for a mid to large-scale urban development project
  • Application of logistical coordination methods
  • Logistics management methods
  • Methods of waste management
  • Moderation and mediation techniques (e.g., for urban planning processes)
  • Techniques for developing urban infrastructure and transport concepts

Among the most important cross-disciplinary competences to be acquired during either of the Master's degree programs is the ability to acquire, understand and use various terminologies or codes of particular disciplines. This ability serves, for example, interdisciplinary collaborations on research and professional projects related to urban issues, the moderation of communications and decision-making processes in formal and informal planning projects and cross-sectional communication with authorities and companies.

The skills for a successful career are acquired in the Master's degree programmes on two levels:

  • Disciplinary knowledge and interdisciplinary competences ensured through contact to other disciplines in the integrative and complementary course offerings
  • Hands-on experience through a project seminar and an internship of several months

Master's Degrees

Interdisciplinary expertise is acquired through one of two distinct study programmes with either a focus on engineering, urban planning and design or on the humanities, social and educational sciences. Both programmes combine disciplinary depth with an interdisciplinary perspective to guarantee a balance between specialisation and generalisation.

Students graduate from the four-semester Master's degree programme “Urban Culture, Society and Space” with a
Master of Arts (MA).

Languages ​​of instruction are English and German.

Students graduate from the four-semester Master's degree programme “Sustainable Urban Development” with a
Master of Science (M.Sc.).
The language of instruction is English with the exception of selected  courses that are offered in German.

Modular Organisation

Both programmes feature a distinct academic profile that is mediated by means of basic, advanced and in-depth modules (marked with blue). This dual approach is meant to guarantee the balance between academic specialisation and generalisation.

Likewise, both programmes intersect considerably in terms of disciplinary approaches and contents, which is guaranteed by integrative and complementary modules and a practical project (marked with olive). In this way, students gain insight into each other's academic disciplines, their contents and methods as well as into cross-sectional urban challenges.

1. Semester
Integrative Module I
Introductory Module Interdisciplinary Complimentary Module I
2. Semester
Integrative Module II
Introductory Module I Interdisciplinary Complimentary Module II
3. Semester
Integrative Module III:
Internship Project
Advanced Module
4. Semester
Master Thesis
Oral Examination

Disciplinary training and interdisciplinary insights culminate in the work on the Master's thesis during 4th semester. The thesis is of crucial importance for the whole period of study, as it demonstrates a student’s ability to address central urban issues meaningfully while applying disciplinary expertise with a clear view towards creating interdisciplinary connections and links to other areas related to urban systems. The completion of the Master's thesis involves an oral examination.

A comprehensive overview of both programmes' modular organisations can be found here:

Project Seminar and Internship

Insights into the professional world are a key component of the Master's programme. Therefore, the curriculum includes a project seminar in the second semester and an internship in the third semester. The internship should last at least three months and aims at the professional orientation of the students.

The project seminar of the second semester requires the students to work in small groups of three to five on an interdisciplinary topic central to urban research and practice. A goal of this project seminar is to have students from both Master's programmes to work together to develop potential solutions. The ‘urban System’ is thereby understood in an interdisciplinary way. The teamwork among fellow students from the two disciplines allows for experience similar to what is found in the professional field.

The internship in the third semester deepens the practical experience in a trans-disciplinary project setting outside of the university. The students get the opportunity to reflect on ‘real world’ practice from a scientific perspective through work on exemplary large-scale urban projects in a context chosen by themselves (e.g., urban development and redevelopment city planning, city management, infrastructure projects, public administration, urban research).

Students will receive intensive guidance in looking for appropriate internships. This guidance will be provided by the
Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) and the Centre for Logistics and Traffic (ZLV) (both part of the Main Research Area “Urban Systems”), which have long-standing contacts to companies and authorities. Besides, enrolled students are provided access to a database with internship offers.

Course Advisory Service

Course Advisory Service