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EducationMaster's and PhD degree programmesSocio-spatial Planning
Header image Socio-spatial Planning

Socio-spatial Planning

The emergence of self-organizing citizen collectives is a critical change in today's society.

Taking this realization as a starting-point, the Master Socio-Spatial Planning helps you to understand the 'human factor' in spatial planning: why different groups of people embrace, contest or reject spatial changes, how they take the lead in shaping their own environment, how spatial interventions influence different stakeholders and how to engage society effectively in spatial transformations.

This master program prepares you for working as a spatial planner (within a governmental arena), a consultant or an advisor, an employee of a non-governmental organization or a researcher, able to intervene in planning processes in a critical, responsive and communicative way, and with an understanding of how:

  • Spatial planning issues, choices and interventions are socially constructed and debated.
  • The ways that the key actors (civil society, state, market) in planning processes are interdependent and interrelated in planning, dealing with and making sense of spatial transformations.
  • To develop and analyze innovative institutional designs and policy solutions for negotiating these actor perceptions and interdependencies within complex spatial changes.

You will work with topics such as housing, mobility, citizenship, well-being and equality in both urban and rural contexts. You will learn to look critically at the role of various stakeholders involved in spatial planning and discover how to interact and build coalitions with them. You will also learn to analyze spatial challenges, formulate interventions and strategies and evaluate the consequences of these strategies for people and their environment.

If you are looking for a two year programme and are interested in doing research, you can also integrate the master in Socio-Spatial Planning with our two year top rated Research Master in Spatial Sciences.

Facts & Figures
MSc in Socio-Spatial Planning
Course type
12 months (60 ECTS)
Croho code
Language of instruction
February, September
Spatial Sciences
Why study this programme in Groningen?
CoursesCourse Catalog >1234
Interaction, Society and Space (5 EC)
Planning Theory (5 EC)
Optional courses (ID course or other) (10 EC)
Engaging Society in Spatial Transformation (5 EC)
Master's Thesis Socio-spatial Planning (20 EC)
City Matters (5 EC)
Revitalizing Neighbourhoods (5 EC)
Living Lab Sustainable Places (ID) (5 EC)

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is optional
Entry requirements

Transfer options

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
All Universities of applied sciences

Via a pre-master with a maximum of 60 EC

More information:

More information about the pre-master via the Study Advisor (

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Human Geography & Urban and Regional PlanningAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Spatial Planning and DesignAll Research universitiesNo additional requirements
Liberal Arts and SciencesAll Research universities

No additional requirements

More information:

Direct access with Philosophy, Politics & Economics. Conditional access with Cognition & Behaviour. No access with other majors.

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
language test
  • Comparable to IELTS International English Language Testing System (Academic version) 6.5 (TOEFL: iBT 90), with minimum scores:
  • Listening 6.0 (TOEFL: 18)
  • Reading 6.0 (TOEFL: 18)
  • Writing 6.0 (TOEFL: 21)
  • Speaking 6.0 (TOEFL: 20)
  • Exemptions: Native English speakers or diploma holders from United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland.
previous education

Access with research university, bachelor degree: Human Geography & Regional and Urban Planning, Spatial Planning and Design, Urban studies, Land Use Planning and Management, Landscape Architecture, Public Administration and Cultural Geography. You might also have access with Urban/Rural Sociology (with a focus on place-space theories and governance), Environmental Management (with a focus on governance/policy/public administration). Environmental Psychology (with a focus on governance/policy/public administration). This will be assessed individually.

Language requirements

ExamMinimum score
IELTS overall band6.5

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students15 August 201901 September 2019
15 January 202001 February 2020
15 August 202001 September 2020
EU/EEA students01 November 201901 February 2020
01 May 202001 September 2020
01 November 202001 February 2021
non-EU/EEA students01 November 201901 February 2020
01 May 202001 September 2020
01 November 202001 February 2021
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2019-2020€ 2083full-time
non-EU/EEA2019-2020€ 14650full-time

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

Graduates of Socio-spatial Planning can start a career in:

  • Different levels of government
  • Consultancies, housing associations and developers (private sector)
  • NGOs (environmental, social, heritage)
  • Universities and research institutes

We support you in developing a rich set of analytical tools and practical skills that allow you to create innovative solutions for just and sustainable cities. Socio-spatial Planning makes you a critical (even a little activist) professional who knows how to engage citizens in the major spatial transformations of our times. We do so in various ways:

1. Strategic partnerships with organizations in planning practice: the City of Groningen, several municipalities in the north of the Netherlands, several housing associations, the PeerGroup.
2. Guest lectures, international field trips and workshops embedded in the courses
3. 3x per year 'A day in planning practice', with company visits
4. Excursions and 'Meet-alumni' events organised by our student organizations
5. 2x per year the Graduate Research Day. A networking event to meet future employers

During the programme we offer support for your career preparation. The Career Services are provided by the Careers Company and the UG Career Services.

More information about the Careers Company:
More information about the UG Career Services:

See where our alumni end up in this graphic!



The MSc Socio-Spatial Planning (SSP) program follows the research agenda of the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment as well as the Faculty of Spatial Sciences in more general. This research agenda focuses on the relationships between wellbeing of people (with different identity markers, backgrounds, values, wishes), institutional innovation (improved governance and policy making), and spatial transformation (changing landscapes, cities and regions).

The emphasis in Socio-Spatial Planning related research lies on the social side of planning. ‘Ordinary’ people and local communities are often neglected by planners and the focus tends to be more dominantly on policy, governance, strategic planning and legal frameworks. Research conducted by researchers active in Socio-Spatial Planning program aims to understand the ‘HUMAN FACTOR’' in spatial planning: why different groups of people embrace, contest or reject spatial changes? how do they take the lead in shaping their own environment and how to align such initiatives with more formal plan- and policy-making? how do spatial interventions influence different stakeholders and their well-being? and how to engage society effectively in spatial transformations?

The core ambitions of the research that informs the teaching program of Master SSP are to:

  • Contribute to planning for liveable, resilient and resourceful communities and places
  • Be able to create coalitions and stimulate collaboration among different stakeholders
  • Design policy solutions for an inclusive and sustainable society

Some examples of recent research topics of the researchers closely connected to the program of Socio-Spatial Planning include:

The articles written on the above topics by the staff members are often used as direct input for lectures and as key literature for the core courses. The Department also facilitates connecting Master thesis research to the ongoing research of staff members.

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						Testimonial of Wolbert van der Haar

    The Master provided me with the necessary insights to understand and actively contribute to changes within the dynamic built environment

    – Wolbert van der Haar
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    The Master 'Socio-Spatial Planning' provided me with the necessary insights to understand and actively contribute to changes within the dynamic built environment, after obtaining a technical (bachelor) degree in construction engineering.

    What I like about the program, next to the excellent quality education it provides, is the degree of flexibility to select courses that fit my interests. Through the broad mix of courses I could select in addition to the core courses, I gained strong analytical and research capabilities that prepared me for my current job. Furthermore, I developed a strategic mindset, which allows me to have a birds-eye view perspective - something I now actively use in my professional life to convince and connect actors in different decision-making processes.

    Furthermore, the program offered a unique intimacy with regard to the size of the group and the connection with the practice. I experienced a great deal of interaction among students, professors and alumni, which had beneficial effects on my professional development and perspective as an urban planner.

    Wolbert van der Haar is currently a consultant and project manager at Arcadis Design & Consultancy, Department of Real Estate and Urban Development.

						Testimonial of Hilko Oosterhuis

    I experienced the courses as tailored to modern day planning

    – Hilko Oosterhuis
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    In the academic year of 2016-2017, I completed the MSc Socio-spatial Planning. I chose this specific Master for a variety of reasons, the most important being the strong connection to current planning practices and the theoretical insights it provided me. I wrote my Master's thesis about municipal border reconstruction, or municipal mergers in short. I enjoyed the freedom of choosing my own research topic, which helped me to stay motivated during the process.

    The courses, such as City Matters, Planning Theory and Revitalizing Neighbourhoods, provided me with the tools needed to conduct independent research but also a theoretical background that helped me to build my own theoretical framework for the thesis. I experienced the courses as tailored to modern day planning practice, whilst always keeping an eye out for the people in social and sociological processes. This still helps me today in my job as a planning professional in different municipalities.

    Hilko Oosterhuis is currently working in two municipalities on sustainability and development projects as a trainee at BMC, which is a consulting company for the local, regional and the national government.

						Testimonial of Alegna Malave

    The master has been an eye opener into the many possibilities to consider as we create better living spaces

    – Alegna Malave
    Read more

    As an advocate for public transport in a car dependent island, my hometown, Puerto Rico, I came to Groningen looking for a degree that would offer a view into a change of planning paradigm.

    The Master Socio-Spatial Planning has certainly offered me such an opportunity, starting with the complexity theory in the Planning Theory course and the validation of the sociological knowledge addressing the unequal power relations that generate social injustice through the planning practice in City Matters.

    Also, the study of Dutch planning tradition and the inclusion of civic society in the design of public policies in Engaging Society for Spatial Transformation and Revitalizing Neighbourhoods courses has been very insightful.

    The many workshops and excursion to various infrastructure projects in and out of the Netherlands has also been an eye opener into the many possibilities to consider as we create better living spaces.


Study associations

Ibn Battuta

Faculty Association of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences from the University of Groningen
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