If you have a special interest in the living environment, and you aspire to combine analytical thinking with creative design, then Spatial Planning and Design is the field for you.
What effect will climate change have on our future cities and rural areas? How can you develop sustainable strategies and designs for new and existing urban systems? How do you deal with a complex built environment and related planning processes? Planners are asked to translate these kind of spatial transformations into new opportunities to enhance quality of life.
The Bachelor's degree programme in Spatial Planning and Design (in Dutch: Technische planologie) revolves around physical and institutional design. The course units are related to spatial planning and design, water management, infrastructure and environmental planning, spatial computer programs, complex decision-making and academic research.
You will work in virtual realities, but also go on excursions to see spatial projects in real life. There will be an opportunity to develop your personal interests via elective course units. You complete your Bachelor's degree with a research project. Excellent students can take part in a more in-depth programme at the Honours College, which has a wider range of topics.
Spatial Planning and Design: The perfect combination of social aspects and engineering
In the last years of secondary school, I made a list of my favourite subjects and I did some research to see which Bachelor's degree programmes most closely matched these subjects.
This led me to the programme in Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning, but this was too focused on social aspects for my taste. The degree programme in Civil Engineering, on the other hand, involved too much engineering. When I stumbled on the Bachelor’s degree programme in Spatial Planning and Design I knew that this was the perfect combination I had been looking for. The orientation day confirmed my first impression. I looked into similar programmes at other Dutch universities, but the SPaD curriculum appealed to me most. Groningen is a great city and I’m really happy with my choice of degree programme!
Working with real-life situations
What I like about Spatial Planning and Design is that you work with real-life situations.
In the course unit on Planning & Water we were asked to come up with solutions to reduce the risk of flooding after a heavy rain period in a Groningen district. We visited the area to analyse the situation. We also studied flood risk maps and combined this information with our findings to determine which streets were in need of water management. Many factors play a role in finding a solution to this kind of problem: infrastructure, stakeholders and residents. You have to take all of these into consideration. We presented our plans to members of the municipality of Groningen. Talking to people actually working on cases like these and hearing their feedback can really help to hone your skills.
I applied for five degree programmes at various universities, but in the end I chose Spatial Planning and Design because it is unique in the Netherlands. Groningen is a great city. It is small, but it has everything you need. I love living here.
Involvement in study-related committees is a great opportunity
There are lots of opportunities for doing activities related to your degree programme.
In my first year, I was a member of the ‘first-year committee’ of Faculty association Ibn Battuta. I organized parties and excursions together with nine other first-year students and a member of the board. It’s a great way to meet new people, and I am still close to some of the committee members. I am now a member of the Student Advisory Council, where students get a chance to use their knowledge of urban planning. It’s really interesting to put what you have learned into practice and to meet people who work in the field.
I was a member of the Spatial Planning and Design programme committee (OC), where students and lecturers discuss the quality of lectures and examinations, and I am part of the team that promotes the degree programme during open days. I think getting involved in study-related committees and jobs is a great opportunity to learn more about all the things are going on around the degree programme.
Learning Communities: visit to the North/South subway line in Amsterdam
First year bachelor student Arnout de Haan about the first Learning Community activity.
For our first Learning Community activity of the year we visited the North/South subway line in Amsterdam.
A former project manager showed a short film about the plans for the North/South line and how this new subway should be realized. The beginning of the presentation showed that many economic and technical setbacks were faced during this project. All these setbacks have led to the planned opening of the North South line in 2018 (10 years later than initially planned!). After the film and presentation we went on site to take a look at the infrastructure project. We all got a helmet, a pair of boots and a jacket on for safety. After this we were shown a part of the subway line which still was still under construction. After the tour we got the opportunity to ask some questions and we made a nice group photo. As first year students this was a fun way to learn something relevant to our study programme and got an first impression about where we might end up later in the work field.
Read more about the Learning Communities at Spatial Sciences.