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Course content

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 programme interacts with research conducted by the research groups active in the department.

The MaUSP programme 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 programme 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 organised according to the following set up:

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

Design studios form the heart of the programme, a status reflected in their credit load. They are organised 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 in small but varied groups from inception.

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


  • Guest lectures and seminars form an important part of the programme. Most are compulsory. The programme 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 organised 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 organised to support courses and provide an understanding of local current trends in urban transformations. As a key feature of the programme, 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 programme’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.
  • Unique position within the educational landscape of Belgium and internationally, since MaUSP is the only English-language programme 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.
  • Diversity of incoming students, both in terms of geographic origin, and in terms of professional/educational backgrounds.
  • 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 jury's and showcase events such as World Urbanisms.
  • Synergy MaHS – MaUSP – EMU.
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations (e.g. European Module Spatial Development Planning, etc.). 

Career perspectives

 After successfully completing the programme, you will have acquired a thorough knowledge of urbanisation 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.

Visit the Urbanism and Strategic Planning MSc page on the KU Leuven website for more details!





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