Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
OnderwijsOpleidingenMaster en PhD opleidingenSocio-spatial Planning
Header image Socio-spatial Planning

Socio-spatial Planning


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 tothe 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.

  • Opleidingsvideo

    Master Socio-spatial Planning

    – Opleidingsvideo
  • Testimonial van Wolbert van der Haar

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

    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.

    – Wolbert van der Haar
  • Testimonial van Hilko Oosterhuis

    I experienced the courses as tailored to modern day planning

    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.

    – Hilko Oosterhuis
  • Testimonial van Alegna Malave

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

    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.

    – Alegna Malave
printView this page in: English