Utrecht University

Urban and Economic Geography, M.Sc.

  • Application Deadline
  • 24 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English
In this Masters programme in Urban and Economic Geography (previously known as Human Geography and Planning) at Utrecht University, you will gain a broad theoretical and methodological background that will allow you to become an academic or professional researcher of ongoing social, spatial, and economic developments in cities and regions.


Diverse developments

Globalisation is subjecting cities and regions to continuous challenges such as increasing urbanisation and growing economic and social interdependences. Complex and dynamic relationships have developed between inhabitants, migrants, businesses, and institutions, and these relationships can foster innovation, creativity, and economic growth.

However, increasing urbanisation can also lead to social and economic inequalities, tensions between groups with different lifestyles, and threats to health and well-being. In addition, globalisation can reinforce economic disparities within regions and cities in both developed and developing countries. Environmental changes can also generate unhealthy living conditions and lead to a displacement of people and businesses. In general, regional and urban areas worldwide experience disparate development due to differences in their position in globalised systems; their location in a developed or developing country or region; and specific cultural, social, political, and economic characteristics.

As a student in this two-year Master’s programme, you will focus on research questions such as:

  • Why do regions and cities differ in terms of economic and innovative performance, creativity, and quality of life?
  • How do social and economic inequality and tensions arise within and between cities and regions?
  • How do individuals and businesses experience changes in their urban and regional conditions, and how do they respond to these changes?
  • Which governance systems and policies are most effective in addressing the social, economic, cultural, and mobility issues of the globalised and urbanised world?
  • How can we use and develop scientific theories and methodologies to investigate these issues?
Research skills and ethics

The course content includes various courses on research skills and philosophy in order for you to acquire both advanced research skills and an ethical framework. You will also participate in research, carry out your own research, and discuss your research with peers and advanced researchers throughout the programme. You will form an integral part of the research community at the Urban and Regional research centre (URU) of Utrecht during your studies.

Programme objective

In Urban and Economic Geography at Utrecht University, you will study the reasons behind the diverse developments in the globalised and urbanised world, and you will learn to translate up-to-date theoretical and methodological developments into empirical research. You will also formulate effective policy recommendations to make cities and regions more viable and sustainable.

As a graduate, you will have an excellent basis for completing a PhD in the fields of urban geography, economic geography, development studies, and urban and regional planning. You will also qualify for senior research functions within international and national organisations, such as the United Nations, Dutch ministries, regional and local bodies, NGOs, and multinational companies. You will be able to perform advanced scientific research within the fields of human geography and spatial planning.


Accredited by the NVAO

Programme Structure

First year

The first year comprises eight courses (60 ECTS). Students will become acquainted with leading theoretical knowledge in broad and specialised domains of urban and economic geography (four courses of 7,5 EC each). Qualitative and quantitative research methods are taught using case studies, tools and data specific to urban and economic geography topics (two courses of 7,5 EC each). Two dedicated courses will focus on academic skills in scientific and academic writing and in writing a research proposal for the Masters thesis (7,5 each).

Second year

The second year of the programme (60 ECTS) consists of a Master's thesis and two final courses.

  • The Masters thesis research project (45 EC) is carried out abroad working in close collaboration with research partners and closely supervised by UU staff. The thesis will be drafted into a scientific paper, suitable for publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal and/or a thesis report.
  • In the two final courses of the programme (7,5 EC each), students will develop a Research Project Proposal for a PhD application. The course Communication Competencies aims to improve the communication skills of students, bridging the academic masters setting to the labour market, career context and society in a natural way.

All courses, including the Masters thesis research project, will be taught by qualified researchers/lecturers from the Urban and Regional research centre Utrecht (URU)

Extra curriculum meetings

In the first term of the first year, a number of familiarising sessions are organised to help students develop individual, coherent programmes that best match their experience, interests and ambitions and to discuss students disciplinary and educational backgrounds, and their motivations and ambitions concerning the research master. These discussions concentrate on the major importance of the masters thesis and appropriate courses or issues for assignments in other courses.Students will actively participate in department research activities and events, such as joining the research seminars of the sections of Economic Geography and Urban Geography and the departments annual two-day retreat (URU days).

Educational methods

Different educational methods are applied in the Master's programme:

  • Lectures, tutorials, and computer practicums
  • Seminars (presentations and discussion)
  • Peer feedback meetings
  • Student group meetings
  • Master's thesis project
  • Research period abroad

The educational methods mentioned above are applied in small group. Students are personally coached during their studies, particularly in courses concerning academic skills. Overall, we closely follow their personal and scientific development during the masters thesis and the period abroad.

Detailed Programme Facts

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score: 6.5

    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Take IELTS test
  • Minimum required score: 93

    The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

Academic Requirements

  • You have a University Bachelor's degree in human geography and/or urban and regional planning
  • You have a University Bachelor's degree in another spatial, social or economic science discipline with at least a minor of 30 ECTS in human geography and/or urban and regional planning
  • University Master's degree in another social or economic science field with a substantial amount of spatial and research content
  • Proof of your proficiency in English (CAE- Level B, CPC- Grade C).

Tuition Fee Per Year

  • EUR 15167 International
  • EUR 2006 EU/EEA


Scholarships, fellowships, and grants offered by Utrecht University, the Dutch government, and other organisations can help fund your studies at the university. Please note that the scholarship options for programmes starting in February are limited.

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.