School of Architecture and Planning

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Master of Urban Studies in the field of Urban Management

The MUS (UM) is a one year full time or two year part time degree. It responds to challenges associated with rapid urbanisation process by providing practice-oriented knowledge and innovative skills to graduates who have a drive for urban transformation. This programme introduces the field of urban management through four crucial and cross-cutting dimensions:

  • Politics and policy of the urban
  • Understanding complex urban systems
  • Managing change processes
  • Coproducing knowledge between theory and practice

Addressing, analysing and responding to these four dimensions is significant for engagement with the urban. MUS (UM) seeks to educate and train planning or built environment practitioners, researchers, scholars and policy makers who can integrate the knowledge of and skills in urban policy, development and management and the planning, urban and social sciences in general, in order to foster transformative urban strategies that enable cities to function more efficiently and effectively.

In line with global commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and New Urban Agenda as well as other global agendas which tackle developmental and urban challenges in a cross-sectorial manner, the MUS (UM) stresses the interdisciplinary diagnosis/analysis and prognosis of urban issues across all scales. It provides graduates with an interdisciplinary theoretical, methodological and practical base from which to approach the diverse issues involved in urban development. It promotes an understanding of the complex urban processes and effective interventions that can contribute to the development of well-managed sustainable, inclusive and resilient cities.


Several dedicated bursaries for the MUS (UM) are provided. Please click here for bursary opportunities.


The MUS (UM) 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)

Students who lack particular skills are asked to take an additional course: ARPL7052A Technologies and Techniques of the Built Environment (10 points)

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.

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.

ARPL7063A Governance and Municipal Planning (20)

This course deals with municipal planning within the context of ‘developmental local governance’. It deals with: municipal powers, structure and functions; municipal finances; the international experience with municipal planning; the history and theory of integrated development planning; planning process; sectoral plans and integration of these plans; the planning and delivery of municipal infrastructure; project packaging; and, performance management.

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.


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.

ARPL 7044 Community Participation in Urban Governance: Theories, Discourses and Practices (20)

Development and planning theories as well as 'good governance' discourses emphasize the need for community participation in urban governance, as a way to deepen and to broaden the culture and practice of democracy amongst citizens, as well as to render urban policies and their implementation more legitimate and/or more efficient. Community participation is therefore often understood as a panacea for urban governability and for democratisation - both by a body of theories and a set of political actors (from the local to the global levels). The course aims at critically engaging with this academic as well as political literature, and questions them in particular through the study of the practices of community participation and the various types of challenges these practices entail. Students will be exposed to arbitration, conflict resolution and negotiation skills. It is also focused particularly at empowering students to communicate their findings to different audiences, using different methodologies and in particular graphic devices.

ARPL7074A Theory, Politics and Governance of Extended Urbanisation (20)

This course supports candidates in actively building conceptual insights relevant to the diversity of urban contexts across the globe. It will involve candidates in theoretical critique and concept development focusing on extended urbanisation, city regions and the diverse, fragmented and dispersed form of urban settlements on city edges, and the implications of this for urban governance.

The course will develop skills in linking empirical evidence and research to evolving concepts. It will also include a focus on a particular context, examining the complex ways in which actors and organisations involved in urban development operate there. It will build core skills in the ethics of urban development policy and practice through pedagogy and practice which supports the engaged and collaborative production of urban knowledge, policy and interventions.

CIVN 7020A Project Management in Developing Areas (20)

Alternative electives may be taken with the permission of 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 18 000 – 22 000 word research report is externally examined.