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Master of Urban Studies in the field of Sustainable Energy Efficient Cities

The Master of Urban Studies in the field of Sustainable Energy Efficient Cities (MUS (SEEC)) qualification is a one year full-time (or two-year part-time) programme on sustainability, climate change, and energy studies with a focus on cities, settlements, buildings and architecture.

As the centres of human habitation as well as production and consumption, cities and their respective built environments pose a double-edged sustainability dilemma for humanity with regard to challenges versus intervention, adaptation and mitigation opportunities. 

Based on a multi-disciplinary approach, the programme admits students with honours-level qualification in diverse disciplines including the built environment, engineering, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences. 

Graduates of this qualification can expect to play a significant role in the transition processes towards greening the economy, consumption and lifestyles in the South African, regional and global economies and markets as well as related policies and institutional transformations. 


The MUS (SEEC) consists of coursework and research. The coursework, which has the same credit weighting as the research component, is designed to complement the research enquiry. The elective course allows for individual specialisation beyond the essential urban management competencies taught in the compulsory courses. The degree is structured as follows:

  • 4 compulsory Category A courses (70 points)
  • 1 elective from Category B (20 points)
  • Research Report (90 points)

Compulsory Courses

A candidate must complete four core courses:

ARPL 7010A Understanding Cities of the South (20)

Understanding the many forces that shape cities of the south. These include development processes (legal, economic (formal and informal), governance issues, environmental issues, transport, land use, infrastructure, services etc.), power and politics (macroeconomics, structural adjustment, questions of sovereignty, gender, poverty, inequality etc.) as well as the discourses of modernity, globalisation and post-colonialism. 

ARPL7054A Energy for Sustainable Cities (20)

The course covers five key topics: Global and urban energy mix andchallenges; Urban scale EE and REstrategies; Operational building-scale EE and REstrategies; Embodied energystrategies; Markets, policies, programmes, legislation and institutionalstructures.

ARPL7055A Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for Buildings (20)

The course covers five key topics: Motivation, brief and assessment tools for EE and RE forbuildings; Integrated design concept for EE and RE forbuildings; Design development in EE and RE forbuildings; Procurement and post-occupation monitoring for EE and RE integrated buildings; EE and RE retrofit for existing buildings.

ARPL7052A Technologies and Techniques of the Built Environment (where deemed necessary) (10)

The course introduces procedural and analytical techniques used in planning and involves the practical application of appropriate technologies, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), computer based mapping and computer packages for data analysis and the presentation of graphics.

ARPL 7040 Research Methods (10)

The course familiarises the learner with research methods, articulation of research questions and identification of types of data (qualitative or quantitative). This leads to the different methods of data collection, with an additional emphasis on conducting surveys. The course covers approaches to analysing both qualitative and quantitative data. In particular, the learner will gain an applied understanding of statistics in analysis of quantitative data through the use of statistical programs.

Elective Courses

A candidate must select elective courses yielding a minimum of 20 credits:

ARPL 7032 Environmental Planning & Sustainable Development (20)

This unit responds to the need to examine urban environments from the management and planning perspectives to promote sustainable urban development. It promotes sustainable development by drawing on and integrating theories and perspectives from the established disciplines of urban planning; urban and regional development; economic development; and public policy and management in a developing country/city context. The field deals with environmental problems such as poor urban housing, poor water supply and sanitation, inadequate solid waste and wastewater management, vulnerability and adaptation to disaster and climate change risks, land use conflicts and deteriorating environmental quality in the home, workplace, neighbourhood, city and region. The unit seeks to foster a commitment to social justice and ethical practice. Students learn to critically engage with participatory, inter-professional and multi-disciplinary ways of working in the urban environment.

ARPL7060A Sustainable City Studio (course undergoing revision for 2024)

This course focuses on the design of open space systems, landscape and natural settings and urban infrastructure of sustainable cities by investigating how landscape and natural issues intersect with built form consideration through urban development infrastructure, sprawl versus compact cities, and energy and resources.

ARPL7071A Theory and Practice of Urban Management (20)

This course centres on the field of urban management by bringing together and navigating theoretical approaches and concepts with a real-life practice-oriented project that is designed planned and tested by students together with urban stakeholders.

This practice-oriented course explores pressing urban challenges through a real life project in strong cooperation with practitioners, with whom the students will co-produce knowledge on case specific contexts. Designing alternatives and management tools and plans for urban challenges with an emphasis on the Global South, this course also teaches the skills that urban managers need for managing change in participatory and inclusive ways.

In addition this course introduces the core concepts, approaches and measures in the field of land management and land tenure. The course provides a critical frame for the field of urban management.

BUSA7494A Energy in Future Cities (10)

This course provides candidates with an in-depth understanding of the interactions between urban morphology and energy infrastructure design and how these intersect with current and emerging energy technologies which determine the extent and options available in the transition to smarter cities. Technological disruptions to the transport of people and freight and the changing nature of work and places of work are inextricably intertwined, all of which have energy system implications. Candidates will model options using interactive models and planning tools.

Research Report

A candidate must also pass a Research Report (ARPL7053A) yielding 90 credits at an NQF level 9 on a topic appropriate to the field of urban studies and approved by the Senate

ARPL7053A Research Report (90)

Each student is individually guided in their search of a relevant research topic, and supervised throughout the proposal writing, research and report-writing process. The 25-30 000 word research report is externally examined.