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Goal of the pro­gramme

Urbanization is a global phenomenon that determines the future of our societies. Most of the key challenges of contemporary societies are encountered and addressed in cities. Cities provide enormous economic, technical and cultural opportunities, but they are also places of social conflicts and segregation as well as environmental and health problems. The magnitude of such challenges implies that no single field of research or profession can tackle them alone. Urban development requires an integrated approach. To this end, two prominent Finnish universities, Aalto University and University of Helsinki, have joined forces in this unique and interdisciplinary master’s programme. This admission track is for students aiming for the Master of Science (nat. sci., environ. sci.), Master of Arts (humanities) or Master of Social Sciences degree at the University of Helsinki.

General Knowledge and Skills

After completing a degree in the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, the student can:

  • Excel as a professional capable of understanding and addressing complex urban development challenges
  • Identify theories, concepts and empirical research methods relevant to urban studies and planning from related fields of social sciences, humanities, ecology, engineering, architecture, design and art
  • Demonstrate a working understanding of the role of urban government, policy-making and planning in urban development
  • Critically and creatively pose and answer significant research questions relevant not only within but across multiple fields of theory and practice
  • Gather, process and develop relevant conclusions based on information from multiple sources
  • Produce, collect and analyse cases and data relevant to urban phenomena
  • Use digital and other tools to collect, analyse and share data
  • Develop responses to urban problems using relevant tools and techniques for representing, modeling, prototyping, testing and evaluating solutions
  • Understand and develop integrated approaches within and across urban research and applied planning
  • Communicate understanding of and responses to urban phenomena visually, graphically, verbally and in writing
  • Write academic, professional and popular texts on urban themes based on relevant literature
  • Apply and develop skills for co-production of knowledge and co-design
  • Work productively and cooperatively in multidisciplinary, multiprofessional and international environments

Knowledge and Skills Related to Specializations and Professions

After completing a degree in the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, the student can:

  • Apply general knowledge and skills introduced, developed and demonstrated within courses and thesis work
  • Situate urban analyses and proposals in relation to his/her specialization as well as contextualize them in relation to others
  • Identify, differentiate and articulate relations among various theories and methods relevant to his/her own specialization 
  • Develop and reflect on his/her competence in urban studies and planning in relation to his/her professional role
  • Carry out independent research on urban issues in his/her field using relevant adequate research methods and responsible scientific practice
  • Analyse phenomena and develop solutions through the use of digital and other tools, such as GIS and CAD
  • Demonstrate competence to work as a professional and/or researcher in urban studies and planning
  • Communicate professionally and constructively with different experts, practitioners and stakeholders in the field of urban studies and planning
  • Articulate his/her professional identity in terms of established and emerging roles relevant to urban studies and planning

Further information about the studies on the Master's programme website.

Programme content

The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning prepares students to excel as professionals capable of understanding and addressing complex urban development challenges. Students learn to address such challenges through a curriculum and pedagogical approach that includes interdisciplinary breadth as well as depth in core areas of knowledge, skill and practice. The program balances theoretical, historical and conceptual knowledge with the acquisition of methods, skills and experiences. Thus, students gain a broad understanding of urban phenomena as well as practical experiences in collaborative and concrete situations. This is the basis both of the structure of the programme and of elements in the curriculum.

Taking full advantage of the joint university structure, the program joins leading expertise from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University into three major study lines. Signature elements in the program are studios crossing the study lines to address urban challenge themes. Themes relate to current and urgent contemporary issues articulated not only in Finland but on the European and global scale, including controversies intrinsic to urbanization. Urban challenge themes may be attached to focus areas, research projects or collaborations within our universities, municipalities and regions in order to provide a constructive and critical framework for study and practice. Urban challenge themes are transdisciplinary and trans-professional, uniting the core areas as joint effort towards a common challenge and emphasizing an outward and forward-looking perspective.


Visit the Urban Studies & Planning - MSc/MSSc/MA page on the University of Helsinki website for more details!

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