Strategic Urban Planning & Policy
Managing Socio-Spatial Dynamics for Sustainable Cities

Study programme

Cities are complex, dynamic systems, influenced by different stakeholders, which requires a more flexible approach. This specialisation track delves deeper into how planning can respond flexibly to the urban dynamics and how various stakeholders can engage in the co-production of a commonly desired urban development.

The Strategic Urban Planning and Policy programme is a specialisation track within the MSc in Urban Management and Development, which links theory and practice by working with concepts, theories, and tools about strategic planning, stakeholder participation, self-governance, informality, spatial justice, placemaking, and trust-building. The track addresses what strategic urban planning means in the context of rapid urbanisation, informal settlement, social deprivation, growing inequalities, and economic decline. Through the lens or urban justice, students will analyse how cities function and what the role of strategic planning and policy is in the urban development process. Next to learning how to do urban planning, you will also reflect on the implications different planning policies have on the socio-spatial dynamics of cities with regards to the spatial distribution of wealth, services and opportunities, representations of identities, social positions and practices in space as well as in decision-making in and about the city. 

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  • At the end of the course participants should be able to:

    • Critically assess socio-spatial dynamics in an urban context based on specific concepts and theories addressed during the course.
    • Identify and engage with stakeholders in a planning process and analyse their interests and needs.
    • Apply concepts and tools related to strategy development, integrating social, environmental, economic, spatial, financial and institutional components of urban plans.
    • Reflect on the qualities of planning and policies, the interests and values that plans and policies represent and their impact on existing dynamics. 
    • Come up with creative solutions by synthesizing and combining concepts and ideas that critically address socio-spatial dynamics in complex urban problems, individually and in team.
    • Convincingly communicate ideas, plans and arguments, supported by theory, orally, visually and in writing.

How is your year organized?

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 specialization tracks. However, student’s assignments within the course modules, as well as the action planning workshop, are always track-specific. In the third block of the programme, courses will only be track-specific and the student will be able to take an elective course. In the fourth block of the programme students will strengthen their research skills through research methods courses and workshops and write their Master’s thesis on a topic relevant to their specialization track. Some example research topics are listed below. Other topics can also be accepted if approved by the coordinators of the specialization track and the thesis supervisor.

    • Beyond shelter – Impact of tenements on social inclusion/exclusion in middle income neighbourhoods of Nairobi. A Case study of Donholm
    • Water supply interventions in informal settlements: Factors influencing the usage of automated water dispensers. A case study of Mathare Settlement in Nairobi City.
    • Analysis of Urban Residential Location Choice Kampala, Uganda
    • The self-organized citizen and its outcome in urban regeneration: a case study of Bangrak-Khlong San District, Bangkok
    • The Effects of Capacity Building in Alleviating Joblessness in Resettlement Sites: The Case of Southville 7 Calauan, Philippines
    • Assessing the impact of involuntary resettlement on the perceived quality of life: Case of resettled residents of Ubumwe to Batsinda
    • Analyzing the Influence of small-scale rental housing market on bottom-up inclusionary housing in middle-income neighbourhoods of Kigali City
    • Assessing the influence of the customary land tenure on the growth of informal settlement in Oshiuman, Amasaman district in Accra
    • Physical planning and urban spatial disparities: Analysing social residential disparities in Kampala as influenced by physical planning and self-organization
    • Freeland of Oosterwold - Organic Urban Expansion and Community Building in Oosterwold
    • Blocks 1 & 2 - October to January

      • With over half of the population living in urban areas, rising to 70% in 2050, it is of ever-increasing importance to understand how cities work and evolve. Complex and interrelated economic, social, physical, and environmental processes are constantly transforming cities. Understanding cities, therefore, require us to recognize, define and describe these complex and multidisciplinary processes.

      • This course will discuss the efforts of governments, often undertaken in partnership with other stakeholders, to deliberately intervene in and influence, steer and guide the development process of cities.

      • Local governments have a key role in the planning and execution of investments and preparation of fundable projects. In some countries, local governments have become increasingly dependent on intergovernmental transfers, which have been shrinking over time in part because of the fiscal constraints. Moreover, investment decisions are at the core of any development strategy. All these and many other aspects of financial investments are addressed in this course.

      • The Action Planning Workshop incorporates the concepts learned during the Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and Public-Private Partnerships (UGPPP) module in a practical, one-week exercise conducted in cooperation with local stakeholders in the city of Rotterdam.

    • Block 3 - January to April

      • In this module participants develop their socio-spatial skills through a series of workshops designed around; social analysis and presentation, spatial analysis and visualisation, and urban observation. At the end of the module, the students will present a socio-spatial analysis of a specified area, which will be used to develop the game board.

      • In the planning theory module, students will discuss topics such as complexity, systems thinking and scale; strategic planning; social and spatial innovation; governance, policies and stakeholders; and urbanisation in relation to their relevance in urban planning.

      • In this module participants will develop knowledge on spatial justice and theory, in cooperation with the Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice specialisation track. Knowledge is transferred through a series of lectures which addresses topics such as; social justice and inequality; spatial justice; gentrification; counter hegemonic trends (right to the city, city as a commons, sharing city); gender. Based on the learnings of the previous two modules, participants will present a framework for analysing the qualities of the game.

      • Spatial planning is approached in the specialisation  track as a multi-stakeholder activity. Therefore in this module participants will establish interaction by setting up a dialogue with the main stakeholders. The participants are then given the opportunity to identify relevant stakeholders and prepare and conduct interviews. This will be the basis for the game characters.

      • In the game development module, participants will work on the co-design and development of the game. During this time, the schedule is divided between workshops, lectures which support the game development work, as well as progress meetings. Work on the game development will be structured through several sub-assignments both as group work and individual work.

      • During the final module, the game will be presented to and played with stakeholders. Following this, participants will work on an individual assignment which is to reflect on the process and the outcome of the game development and evaluate the game according to the framework they have during the Planning & Spatial Justice Theory modules.

      • 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

      • TBA

      • TBA

      • 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

        Fuller description TBA.