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Education Master's and PhD degree programmes Socio-spatial Planning
Header image Socio-spatial Planning

Socio-spatial Planning

The master programme in Socio-Spatial Planning centres around understanding the human factor in spatial interventions.

Socio-Spatial Planning promotes a novel understanding of how to transform the built environment in collaboration with its users. Our courses pay attention to the social, cultural, political, and economic environment in which decision-making on spatial interventions takes place.

The emergence of self-organizing citizen collectives is a critical change in today's societal strive for sustainable places and futures. SSP emphasizes the role of citizens in shaping places. We interrogate why different stakeholders and social groups embrace, contest, or reject spatial changes, and how we can design their surroundings in such a way that it meets their diverse needs. We present spatial justice is a leading principle to design cities of the future. Moreover, we pay explicit attention to the ways in which spatial planning can contribute to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals, such as healthy ageing, a clean environment, and eliminating poverty, in collaboration with citizens and civil society actors.

Our programme highlights the social aspects of the global transition towards a more sustainable society. Sustainability challenges are interconnected with the communities that face them. As such, our students learn to adopt new methodological and interactive approaches to problem-solving in different contexts. This exchange does not only take place outside of the classroom, but also within our small-scale, international department.

You learn to analyze, develop and negotiate innovative institutional designs and policy solutions to support and lead complex transformations in light of international sustainability and planning debates. Core of our focus on the human factor in society, sustainability and planning is using real-life cases and working with and engaging people in real-world living labs.

Through this framework, our graduates are able to utilize spatial planning in solving urgent social problems, such as inequality and climate change. Our alumni are critical and engaged consultants and researchers, who are in high demand on the labour market. They are employed by NGOs, consultancies, governments, and businesses.

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


Facts & Figures
Degree
MSc in Socio-Spatial Planning
Course type
Master
Duration
12 months (60 ECTS)
Croho code
66653
Language of instruction
English
Start
February, September
Faculty
Spatial Sciences
Why study this programme in Groningen?
  • Unique focus on designing socially sustainable spatial solutions
  • Numerous 'hands-on' assignments, field-visits and contacts with practitioners
  • An emerging societally relevant field within Spatial Planning research and practice
Programme
Periods
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)

Curriculum

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is optional
Entry requirements

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
language test
  • English on VWO level
  • IELTS overall band 6.5, no less than 6.5 on each section
  • TOEFL internet based:
  • Overall: 90
  • Reading: 21 (19-23)
  • Listening: 21 (20-23)
  • Speaking: 21 (20-22)
  • Writing: 24 (24-26)
  • Cambridge English: Cambridge certificate C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency (formerly known as CAE/CPE)
  • Please note that TOEFL MyBest Scores are not considered in the Admissions procedure
  • An exemption can be given by the Admission Board.
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.

If you are not directly admissible you can follow a pre-master programme. See more information in the pre-master guide: https://www.rug.nl/frw/education/pre-master/

other admission requirements

In the year 2020-2021 it may be possible for you to start your Master programme with 15 ECTS or less deficiency, the so called 'Zachte Knip'. For more information, please visit: https://www.rug.nl/frw/education/introduction/zachte-knip/

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 see https://www.rug.nl/frw/education/pre-master/

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Human Geography and 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.

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students15 August 202001 September 2020
15 January 202101 February 2021
15 August 202101 September 2021
EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
language test
  • IELTS overall band 6.5, no less than 6.5 on each section
  • TOEFL internet based:
  • Overall: 90
  • Reading: 21 (19-23)
  • Listening: 21 (20-23)
  • Speaking: 21 (20-22)
  • Writing: 24 (24-26)
  • Cambridge English: Cambridge certificate C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency (formerly known as CAE/CPE)
  • Please note that TOEFL MyBest Scores are not considered in the Admissions procedure
  • An exemption can be given by the Admission Board.
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.

If you are not directly admissible you can follow a pre-master programme. See more information in the pre-master guide: https://www.rug.nl/frw/education/pre-master/

other admission requirements

In the year 2020-2021 it may be possible for you to start your Master programme with 15 ECTS or less deficiency, the so called 'Zachte Knip'. For more information, please visit: https://www.rug.nl/frw/education/introduction/zachte-knip/

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students15 August 202001 September 2020
15 January 202101 February 2021
15 August 202101 September 2021
EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2020-2021€ 2143full-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 at the University of Groningen we offer support for your career preparation.

More information about the FSS Career Services.

See where our alumni end up in this graphic!

Research

Research

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.

Apply nowBrochureEventsContact

Contact

  • Saskia Enuma (Study advisor)
    Email: study.advice.fss rug.nl
    Telephone: 0503633906
  • Drs. Nienke Harteveld (Study advisor)
    Email: study.advice.fss rug.nl
    Telephone: 050 36 33906
  • 
						Testimonial of Hilko Oosterhuis

    I experienced the courses as tailored to modern day planning

    – Hilko Oosterhuis
    Read more

    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.

    Close
  • 
						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.

    Close
  • 
						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
    Read more

    .

    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.

    Close

Study associations

Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta is the Faculty Association of Spatial Sciences
Becoming a member of Ibn Battuta means you can join the social drinks, foreign trips, lectures and all other activities organized by the Association. At these events you come into contact with students from all years, which is a great way to make friends that can last a lifetime! Ibn Battuta also organizes informative and career-focused activities. Our informative activities, such as lectures, In-Housedays and the Career Day will help you to orient on your future.
https://www.ibnbattuta.nl/
Read more