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Master in Geography : General with focus Urban studies

Master in Geography : General with focus Urban studies

This formation is taught in english.

The 2020-2021 programme is subject to change. It is provided for information purposes only.

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  • Programme title
    Master in Geography : General with focus Urban studies
  • Programme mnemonic
  • Programme organised by
    • Faculty of Sciences
  • Degree type
    Masters 120 credits
  • Tier
    2nd cycle
  • Field and branch of study
    Sciences and technics/Sciences
  • Schedule type
  • Languages of instruction
  • Theoretical programme duration
    2 years
  • Campus
  • Category / Topic
    Sciences and technics - Sciences
  • Jury President
    Jean-Michel DECROLY
  • Jury Secretary


General information

Degree type

Masters 120 crédits

Theoretical programme duration

2 years

Learning language(s)


Schedule type




Category(ies) - Topic(s)

Sciences and technics - Sciences

Organising faculty(s) and university(ies)

Student support

The small number of students makes for easier interactions with professors and teaching assistants, but also with the researchers at IGEAT (Institut de Gestion de l’Environnement et d’Aménagement du Territoire).

Students can also rely on a computer lab, a map library, and a network of libraries to help them in their studies.

For their dissertation, they will also receive support as a series of seminars. Srarting in the second term of the first year, these seminars provide a structure for each student's work, based on a number of phrases: define an issue, phrase a research question, take stock of the current literature, develop a method, and present and interpret results.

Succeed in your studies

The multifaceted complexity of cities is difficult to grasp, and so the Master in Urban Studies takes a holistic and immersive approach. Theory and practice are seen as mirrors, each critically reflecting the other. The city is engaged as an evolving narrative, more dialogic than linear, and students learn to see “The City” as manifold and emergent, to hear it, to participate in it, and to understand it, all while experimenting with their role in shaping it. While this obviously requires a high degree of independence and self-reliance, students must also be cooperative and collaborative.

Succeed in your studies

ULB offers a number of activities and resources that can help you develop a successful strategy before or during your studies.

You can make the transition to higher education easier by attending preparatory courses, summer classes, and information and orientation sessions, even before you start your studies at ULB.

During your studies, many people at ULB are there specifically to help you succeed: support staff in each faculty, (inter-)faculty guidance counsellors, tutors, and experts in academic methodology.


The Master in Urban Studies is a 120 ECTS programme jointly offered by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Offering an interdisciplinary perspective on urban studies, students follow a core trajectory of shared courses and have the freedom to specialize by individually selecting from a large offer of elective modules and courses.

The common core contains a course on Brussels, one on the European dimension of cities and urbanisation, and a number of theoretical courses introducing you to the field of urban studies. By using Brussels as a unique case study in the programme and by organising various site visits in and around Brussels and excursions to cities in Europe, we benefit from our location in the centre of Europe. The common core also contains two modules introducing you to various urban methods and research approaches. Please see http://urbanstudies.brussels/master/programme for detailed information

Master in Urban Studies bridges disciplinary limitations by combining sociology, geography, history, cultural studies, and humanistic urban studies while providing students with an array of means and methods for analysing and understanding the specific character of cities. Academic courses are supplemented with fieldwork and excursions, reframing The City as a dynamic, immersive learning laboratory.

In the second year of your studies, it is possible to go abroad for a semester and study at one of our partner universities. We currently have Erasmus exchange agreements with the following universities: Universität Wien; Charles University Prague; University of Tartu; Aalto University; Université Paris Pantheon Sorbonne; Université de Lille; Sciences Po Bordeaux, HafenCity Universität Hamburg; Bauhaus-Universität Weimar; RWTH Aachen; Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main; Eötvös Loránd University Budapest; University of Milano-Bicocca; Université de Luxembourg; Universiteit van Amsterdam; Universiteit Utrecht; University of Oslo; NTNU Trondheim; Gdańsk University of Technology; University of Warsaw; Universitat de Barcelona; Göteborgs Universitet; KTH Stockholm; Lunds Universitet; Malmö Universitet; Université de Lausanne; Universität Bern

Access conditions


The Master in Geography includes three distinct focuses: territorial development, teaching, and urban studies. While they each cover specific contents, these focuses are built around a shared philosophy: enabling students to acquire the knowledge and methods required to analyse spatial questions while developing their intellectual curiosity and their critical perspective. To this end, particular emphasis is placed on active learning, field work, and work placements. The Master in Geography takes advantage of the University's location in Brussels, encouraging students to reflect on current issues of the city.

The Master with a focus on ‘territorial development’ is devoted to analysing the structure of territories, their transformations, and development projects at various scales. Particular emphasis is placed on the economic, social, and political dimensions of territorial issues. From a methodological perspective, the programme covers the production, management, analysis, and diffusion of optimal geographical data, with a view to helping students work autonomously. Courses in this focus include lectures on specific topics (political geography, analysis of urban spaces, cultural geography, etc.) and methods (remote sensing, geomarketing, database management, etc.). In addition to lecture classes, students attend seminars where they can work on practical projects in small teams, under supervision. Students complete their curriculum with electives chosen from a wide range of courses in areas such as urban studies, mobility, transportation, tourism, environmental studies, or development.

The Master with a teaching focus prepares students to teach geography. Its main purpose is to train skilled teachers who can get students interested in the richness and significance of geographical issues in relation to understanding the world and living as a citizen. Graduates of the teaching focus receive the official title of ‘agrégé’ (AESS): only graduates of this programme—and holders of an AESS—may teach geography in secondary schools in Belgium. This programme includes courses on geography and didactics, as well as work placements involving teaching in a school environment. This approach blends theory and practice, with field experience, micro-teaching exercises, lesson preparations, organising a school trip, etc., always keeping in mind the creative and rewarding aspects of teaching.

The Master with a focus on urban studies (Erasmus Mundus programme) is fully integrated into an international urban studies programme, given entirely in English: the 4Cities Master, organised jointly by universities in Brussels (ULB and VUB), Vienna, Copenhagen, and Madrid (Universidad Complutense and Universidad Autonoma). Students attend common classes in English during both years of the Master, in Brussels and Vienna for the first year, and in Copenhagen and Madrid the second year. Since 2013, this Master has been part of the Erasmus Mundus programme. Enrolment is subject to certain criteria: applications must be sent to the team coordinating the 4Cities programme (see www.4cities.eu).

The Master in Geography with a focus on urban studies is fully given in English, in Brussels. Classes are held at both ULB and VUB, with students receiveing a joint degree upon graduation. This gives them access to a wide range of classes on urban studies (with many electives that let them specialise in topics of interest), as well as to field visits and the opportunity to complete an international work placement or a semester abroad. Please not that this programme is subject to specific access requirements. For more information, visit the programme's website: http://urbanstudies.brussels/master/urban-studies

What's next ?


Master in Urban Studies students are not trained for one specific profession, but an education in urban studies ensures that you develop the right skills and mindset to tackle important urban challenges. Our graduates continue as PhD researchers at universities across the world and find work in non-profits and NGOs, consultancy firms, government administrations in urban policy and planning.