Urban Studies and Planning - M.Sc. Degree in Landscape Architecture


Master of Science (Landscape Architecture).
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120 ECTS

Field of Study:

Technology and Engineering


2 years, full-time


An appropriate Bachelor´s degree or an equivalent qualification.

Tuition fees & scholarships:

Yes, for non-EU citizens.
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Language of Instruction:

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Organising school/s:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Application period:

2017-12-15 - 2018-01-24

Publication of Results:



Urban Studies and Planning in Landscape Architecture

Urbanization is a global phenomenon that determines the future of our societies. Most of the key challenges of contemporary societies are encountered and addressed in cities. Cities provide enormous economic, technical and cultural opportunities, but they are also places of social conflicts and segregation as well as environmental and health problems. The magnitude of such challenges implies that no single field of research or profession can tackle them alone. Urban development requires an integrated approach. To this end, two prominent Finnish universities have joined forces in this unique and interdisciplinary master’s programme. Application through Aalto University admission process is oriented towards applicants with Bachelor’s degree in planning, architecture, landscape architecture and urban and real estate economy.

Studies are part of transdisciplinary master's programme jointly executed with University of Helsinki. This admission track is for students aiming for the M.Sc (Landscape architecture) degree.

Goal of education

General Knowledge and Skills

After completing a degree in the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, the student can:

  • Identify theories, concepts and empirical research methods relevant to urban studies and planning from related fields of social sciences, humanities, ecology, engineering, architecture, design and art
  • Demonstrate a working understanding of the role of urban government, policy-making and planning in urban development
  • Critically and creatively pose and answer significant research questions relevant not only within but across multiple fields of theory and practice
  • Gather, process and develop relevant conclusions based on information from multiple sources
  • Produce, collect and analyse cases and data relevant to urban phenomena
  • Use digital and other tools to collect, analyse and share data
  • Develop responses to urban problems using relevant tools and techniques for representing, modeling, prototyping, testing and evaluating solutions
  • Understand and develop integrated approaches within and across urban research and applied planning
  • Communicate understanding of and responses to urban phenomena visually, graphically, verbally and in writing
  • Write academic, professional and popular texts on urban themes based on relevant literature
  • Apply and develop skills for co-production of knowledge and co-design
  • Work productively and cooperatively in multidisciplinary, multiprofessional and international environments


    Knowledge and Skills Related to Specializations and Professions

    After completing a degree in the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, the student can:


  • Apply general knowledge and skills introduced, developed and demonstrated within courses and thesis work
  • Situate urban analyses and proposals in relation to his/her own specialization as well as contextualize in relation to others
  • Identify, differentiate and articulate relations among various theories and methods relevant to his/her own specialization  
  • Develop and reflect on his/her competence in urban studies and planning in relation to his/her professional role
  • Carry out independent research on urban issues in his/her field using adequate research methods and respecting responsible scientific practice
  • Analyzing phenomena and developing solutions through the use of digital and other tools, such as GIS and CAD
  • Fulfill specific professional degrees in accordance with respective professional codes and directives (such as architect’s, landscape architect’s and urban planner’s), as relevant
  • Demonstrate competence to work as a professional and/or researcher in urban studies and planning
  • Communicate professionally and constructively with different experts, practitioners and stakeholders in the field of urban studies and planning
  • Artiulate his/her professional identification in terms of established and emerging roles relevant to urban studies and planning


    More about the language of instruction

    All teaching is given in English. Exams can also be taken in Finnish or Swedish, and the Master’s thesis can be written in Finnish or Swedish.

    Education content

    The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning prepares students to excel as professionals capable of understanding and addressing complex urban development challenges. Students learn to address such challenges through a curriculum and pedagogical approach that includes interdisciplinary breadth as well as depth in core areas of knowledge, skill and practice. The program balances theoretical, historical and conceptual knowledge with the acquisition of methods, skills and experiences. Thus, students gain a broad understanding of urban phenomena as well as practical experiences in collaborative and concrete situations. This is the basis both of the structure of the programme and of elements in the curriculum.

    Taking full advantage of the joint university structure, the program joins leading expertise from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University into three major study lines. Signature elements in the program are studios crossing the study lines to address urban challenge themes. Themes relate to current and urgent contemporary issues articulated not only in Finland but on the European and global scale, including controversies intrinsic to urbanization. Urban challenge themes may be attached to focus areas, research projects or collaborations within our universities, municipalities and regions in order to provide a constructive and critical framework for study and practice. Urban challenge themes are transdisciplinary and trans-professional, uniting the core areas as joint effort towards a common challenge and emphasizing an outward and forward-looking perspective.


    Career opportunities

    The programme prepares you to be a professional in a field that is meaningful, growing and in demand. You will acquire the knowledge, skills and experience needed to fill both traditional and emerging planning roles (such as urban planning and design, real estate development, strategic planning, environmental planning, landscape architecture, policy and service design). To these established or emerging roles, you will bring an integrated understanding of, and training in applying, more interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to urban development. As a graduate you will be prepared to compete for local and international positions within public, private and non-profit organisations, planning, architectural and policy advisory firms, research institutes and NGOs.


    For landscape architecture specialization, the degree given is Master of Science (Landscape Architecture).


    The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning addresses internationalization in multiple ways, recognizing and taking advantage both of the unique Helsinki context and diverse urban contexts around the world. The yearly intake of the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning includes both domestic and international applicants. We look for students whose varied backgrounds, experiences, and education reflect the richness of contemporary society. Teachers of the programme have an international background or experience, and the program builds on their strong international connections in their respective fields. Researchers and invited lecturers from abroad take part in the teaching of the programme.

    The Master’s Programme builds on the joint University of Helsinki and Aalto University Bachelor’s Program ‘Urban Academy’, including its teaching faculty, international network and advisory board of leading international experts. Elective coursework can include student exchange or internships abroad, and students are also encouraged to collaborate internationally in their Master’s thesis. All students thus have opportunity to study in an international environment and acquaint themselves with different cultures.

    For international and Finnish students, Helsinki and Finland are well-known internationally for progressive approaches to planning. Helsinki is a UNESCO creative city, planning and design have strong roles within municipalities, government and the public sector. Finland is a European and international forerunner in technological research and innovation, such as open data in municipalities. Local and national policies support experimental and participatory culture and development. In the context of urban challenges, Helsinki provides a unique case for engaging with progressive approaches to welfare state paradigms, including public-private dynamics, changing demographics and cultures, and diverse approaches to market growth and sustainability.

    Admission procedure

    Students apply for the Urban Studies and Planning in Landscape Architecture specialization via the master’s degree admissions process for science and technology. Selection for a master’s programme leading to a higher degree is mainly based on studies completed earlier and is carried out as a so-called paper selection without an entrance examination.

    The selection criteria for the master’s phase are an applicable earlier degree in the field of architecture, the amount of applicable studies, motivation and commitment on the basis of a motivation letter, and the overall level of the application. A portfolio of the applicant’s own practice work and any other personal work is a compulsory and important appendix to the application. It must illustrate the applicant's architectural design skills and artistic nature in a broad-based manner. The main focus of the evaluation is placed on design sketches and other image material.

    Evaluation criteria

    The final admission is based on the academic assessment. The evaluation process is competitive and the number of available study places is limited. The used criteria is as follows:

  1. The applicability of the previous degree, i.e. bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a the field of landscape  architecture
  2. The amount of relevant studies
  3. The academic performance of the applicant
  4. The quality of the application as a whole, including the portfolio
  5. The motivation and commitment of the applicant on the basis of a motivation letter.

A portfolio consisted of the applicant’s own works is mandatory. The portfolio should widely present the candidate’s planning, design and artistic skills and creativity. The evaluation emphasis lies mainly on design drawings and other illustration material. It should be in paper form, easy to handle and no bigger than A3 size.

Complementary studies

The student may be required to take complementary studies (max. 20 ECTS). These studies will be determined individually at the latest in the beginning of the studies while making the personal study plan.


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