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Research Master
Urban Studies

The two-year Research Master’s in Urban Studies deals with questions surrounding the increasing urbanisation of today’s world. Cities are characterised by economic, social, political and cultural opportunities, but also carry risks of social problems, inequality and security issues. In this programme, you will learn to research and analyse these challenges.

The 21st century will be an urban century. Since 2008, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas, and this is expected to rise to sixty per cent in 2030. Cities are simultaneously considered to be engines of economic growth and social, cultural, and political opportunities, as well as places where problems and vulnerabilities such as insecurity and inequality concentrate. Consequently, we need academics who are able to understand and develop knowledge on urban change.  Addressing urban issues and processes as they occur in multiple and intersecting academic domains, requires a multidisciplinary approach. The Research Master in Urban Studies (RMUS) combines the disciplines of urban geography, economic geography, urban and regional planning, and urban sociology to provide a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to studying urban change,  as well as the opportunities and challenges this produces. You will learn about contemporary urban phenomena and will be trained in a variety of research methodologies and techniques to understand these from a critical perspective. An important theme throughout the programme is the international comparison of critical urban phenomena, as exemplified by the requirement of an international comparison in your Master’s thesis. A substantial part of the program (72/120 ECTS) consists of methodological and thematic electives and individual research practice, allowing students to develop a unique profile. For the duration of the program students become a member of the urban research community of the University of Amsterdam.

The University of Amsterdam is located in Amsterdam where many contemporary urban challenges are visible and experienced daily.

Semester abroad

A unique feature of the programme, related to the international comparison, is the semester abroad at one of our exchange partner institutes worldwide that offer high quality programmes in urban studies.  

What is a Research Master's programme?

Research Master's programmes are two-year programmes specifically designed for excellent students wising to pursue a career in research. Their main objective is to prepare students for an academic career, a career in applied research, or research-­‐intensive jobs in policy or professional fields. Graduates should be able to successfully start PhD research or acquire a position of equivalent level in applied research or policy practice.

These programmes include additional research methodology and-, skills training, as well as hands-on experience in the top research groups of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research.

In this video, the features of a Research Master's programme are explained by a current student, an alumna and an academic staff member: 

Student profile

The Research Master's programme Urban Studies is open to students from the Netherlands as well as from abroad. Usually about fifty per cent of the students is international. Students come from various disciplines, mainly in social sciences.  We seek research-oriented  students with an interest in “the urban”,  and in support of a multidisciplinary approach, which means they think beyond their own disciplinary background. We expect students to have performed above average in their Bachelor’s programme. 


Students in this Research Master’s programme acquire a solid foundation in state-of-the-art theories and debates in urban studies, in particular in the sub-fields of Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography and Urban Sociology. In our methodology courses, specific attention is given to combining qualitative and quantitative methods in mixed-method approaches and to comparative case study approaches. 

Focus on research

The programme is research based. It has strong ties with the  Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), and students are invited to attend academic activities at the AISSR. AISSR unites all research in the Social Sciences at the UvA and is one of the largest institutes in Europe.

The leading professors of four of AISSR's research groups: urban geographies, urban and regional planning, geographies of globalisation and sociology, all highly valued in the latest reviews, are responsible for the core courses of the programme. Research Master's students work together with these professors during a research apprenticeship and their Master's Research Project.

As one of UvA’s research priority area’s, the Center for Urban Studies (part of AISSR) is closely linked to the Research Master's programme.

Previous students have established the online blog The Proto City on which students, alumni and staff write about research and debates in Urban Studies.

Degree certificate

Upon successful completion of the Research Master Urban Studies, students receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Urban Studies (Research).

Reasons to study the Research Master’s in Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam

Within the national (Dutch) context, the RMUS programme is the only Research Master combining the disciplines of urban geography, economic geography, urban and regional planning, and urban sociology. Furthermore, it is the only Research Master in the Netherlands that requires students to study for a semester at a university abroad. A third distinguishing feature of the RMUS is the focus on internationally comparative research, requiring students to compare at least two case studies in two different countries during their second year research project. An international comparison with similar programmes shows that the RMUS programme at the UvA is on a par with the international top programmes in terms of its multidisciplinary approach towards urban studies. Methodology courses carry similar or more weight in the curriculum of the RMUS programme than in other programmes but the centrality of the internationally comparative case study approach is unique. This and the uniqueness of the compulsory study semester abroad lead us to believe that the RMUS programme is an internationally competitive, high standard programme in its field.

Key facts

Urban Studies
Degree programme Urban Studies (Research)
Type Regular study programme
Mode Full-time
Credits 120 ECTS, 24 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 60217