Students can now apply for an urban planning master’s programme that is the first of its kind, giving them the chance to study at three separate universities in Malmö, Roskilde and Tromsø.

The Nordic Urban Planning Studies programme is based across three modern universities in different cities. The first semester will take place at Roskilde University in Denmark. Semester three will be at Malmö University and the University of Tromsø in Northern Norway, while semesters two and four are a chance for students to choose their own location. The programme leads to a joint degree from all three universities.

Moving between different countries is a unique approach that aims to give students a competitive edge once they graduate.

“To our knowledge, there is currently no other programme like this is the world and it really reflects the shift we see in the field of planning, from local to global. There are an increasing number of large international players like IBM, Google and Siemens that have jumped on the urban development market are looking to employ people with an international perspective,” says Guy Baeten, Professor of Urban Studies at Malmö University.

The Nordic focus is an advantage since the region is known for taking the lead when it comes to sustainability. 

Guy Baeten

Baeten will be teaching sustainable planning and smart cities, two of the field’s hot topics. He believes the programme will set students up for a number of interesting career prospects.

“As it stands, planning students get jobs fairly easily. In Sweden, however, planning is firmly in the hands of municipalities, which means that these jobs fall into the public sector. Students from Nordic Urban Planning Studies will have this market available to them, as well as all new global corporations and international consultants,” he explains.

Students will conduct research individually and in groups, as well as learn about spatial visualisation techniques and geographical information systems.

“They will be doing what students do in traditional planning programmes. The focus is not so much on design, but more on social sciences — how urban planning is embedded in power relations, who plans the city for what, and who benefits. The Nordic focus is also an advantage, since the region is known for taking the lead when it comes to sustainability. Students will also be looking at solutions to issues like polarisation, segregation and air quality,” says Baeten.

The programme accepts applicants from a variety of academic backgrounds, the logic being that the more diverse the classroom, the better it is for the students.

“We’ve been collaborating with colleagues in Roskilde and Tromsø on making this a reality for a long time, so we’re really looking forward to welcoming the first generation of urban planning master’s students,” he adds.

Text: Maya Acharya