Study options

Urban Studies and Planning, M.Sc in Architecture

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

Degree:

Master of Science (Architecture)

Application period:

1.12.2022 – 2.1.2023

Language of instruction:

English

Duration:

2 years, full-time

Eligibility:

Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Technology and Engineering

Credits:

120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)
Applying to master’s programmes

Description

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

Taking full advantage of the joint university structure, the programme unites expertise from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University into three major study tracks. The signature elements in the programme are interdisciplinary studies that address urban challenge themes. These themes relate to urgent contemporary issues found not only in Finland but on the European and global scale, including controversies intrinsic to urbanisation. The 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. These themes cross the boundaries of disciplines and professions, and are united in addressing a common challenge and emphasising a forward-looking perspective.

For architecture specialization, the degree given is Master of Science (Architecture). The learning outcomes are based on the regulations of the EU directive that applies to pursuing the professional activities of an architect (Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications). According to the directive, an architectural degree meets the expectations of the construction industry and also enables a career outside Finland. In order to meet the requirements of the EU directive, the applicant ought to have a bachelor's degree with orientation to architectural design. The assessment of full five year curriculum is done individually in admission process.

Learning outcomes

General Knowledge and Skills

After completing a degree in the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning in architecture, 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 and Planning in architecture, 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
  • Articulate his/her professional identification in terms of established and emerging roles relevant to urban studies and planning

Language of instruction

All teaching is given in English

Tuition fees and scholarships

Aalto University’s tuition fee for master’s programmes taught in English is 15 000 euros per academic year. Tuition fees apply to citizens of countries other than those of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

Aalto University has a scholarship programme to support non-EU/EEA citizens who study in a fee-charging degree programme. The scholarship may cover 100% or 50% of the tuition fee.

More information on tuition fees and scholarships at Aalto University is available at the Scholarships and Tuition Fees webpage.

Structure of studies

The Master of Science (architecture) degree is 120 ECTS credits. The programme includes 60 cr of major studies, 30 cr of elective studies and a master’s thesis worth 30 cr.

Advanced Studies 2022-2024 (USP Architecture) - Master's Programme in Urban Studies and Planning - Into (aalto.fi)

Qualifications

The programme offers different degrees from two universities from the University of Helsinki, Master of Science (nat. sci., environ. sci.), Master of Arts (humanities) and Master of Social Sciences, and from Aalto University, Master of Science (architecture), and Master of Science (technology) - that ensure sufficient expertise to work in established and emerging expert roles in urban development in the public and private sectors, in Finland and internationally.

For architecture specialisation, the degree given is Master of Science (architecture). The learning outcomes are based on the regulations of the EU directive that applies to pursuing the professional activities of an architect (Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications). According to the directive, an architectural degree meets the expectations of the construction industry and also enables a career outside Finland.

Degree qualification in architecture is provided for students who have a B.Sc. in technology or architecture.

Specialisations

The programme combines several degree options from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki. The target degrees are listed in the section ‘Qualifications’. The target degree is to be selected in the application process, and the application should be directed to the suitable university and according to the target degree. The applicability of previous studies is assessed according to the selected target degree.

For example, a student aiming for a Master of Science (architecture) degree at Aalto University must have suitable previous studies to qualify for the target degree, and the application must be submitted to Aalto University. The chosen target degree cannot be changed.

Internationalisation

The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies & Planning provides an international scope in many ways, taking advantage of the unique Helsinki context and diverse urban contexts around the world. Each year, new students in the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies & Planning include both Finnish and international applicants. We look for students whose varied backgrounds, experiences, and education reflect the richness of contemporary society. The teachers of the programme have international backgrounds and experience, and the programme 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 Programme, ‘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 work. All students thus have the opportunity to study in an international environment and acquaint themselves with different cultures.

For international and Finnish students, Helsinki and Finland are well-known for having progressive approaches to planning. Helsinki is a UNESCO creative city, and 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 an 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.

Further study opportunities

After completing a degree in the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies & Planning, you can apply for doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, and other top international universities.

At the University of Helsinki, the relevant doctoral programmes include:

  • Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences DENVI,
  • Social Sciences,
  • Sustainable use of renewable resources AGFOREE,
  • Political, Economic and Regional Change,
  • History and Cultural Heritage,
  • Philosophy, Arts and Society,
  • Political, Societal and Regional Change (PSRC).

At Aalto University, the relevant degrees include Doctor of Science (architecture), Doctor of Science (landscape architecture), Doctor of Science (economics and business administration), Doctor of Arts, and Doctor of Science (technology). The relevant doctoral programmes include:

  • Arts, Design and Architecture,
  • Business, Economics and Finance,
  • Engineering,
  • Science.

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.

Research focus

The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies & Planning is offering research-oriented studios, which focus on current and future-oriented challenges in the field of Urban Studies and Planning. Students will be introduced to a diverse range of research methods, setting particular focus on scientific writing. These basic research skills will be further developed during the Master Thesis.

Co-operation with other parties

The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies & Planning is profoundly interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral.

The programme combines the most important fields of urban studies from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University into a progressive and interdisciplinary curriculum. Courses include extensive co-teaching to ensure multiple perspectives on core topics. There are continual exchanges among disciplines and between theory and practice, for example, through dynamic learning-by-doing pedagogical approaches within urban challenge studios.

Building on the established joint bachelor’s programme, the master’s programme further develops multiple forms of collaboration with the City of Helsinki. The programme includes collaboration with other city administrations, local media, civil society organisations, heritage and cultural institutions, think-tanks and companies. At these universities, and in Finland in general, societal impact is highly valued and effectively implemented in education and research.

Study-option-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for Master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option. The applications to Master's Programme in Urban Studies and Planning - M.Sc. In Architecture will be evaluated based on the following criteria

Phase I

Artistic and/or design practice

What is evaluated

Demonstrations of artistic and/or design work or assignments

What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements

Applicants should demonstrate

  • their communication skills that is the ability to use visual means of representation of the discipline in order to communicate your design/planning idea and its architectural expression, with special focus on the topic of urban planning and urban design.
  • their technical skills that is the ability to translate your concept into an adequate material system and coherent construction logic.
  • their understanding of context that is the ability to relate the architectural project to its physical, social, cultural and political environment.
  • their understanding of space-making that is the ability to translate the architectural concept into an adequate spatial experience and spatial dynamics, with special focus on the urban and regional scale.

 

Method of demonstrating competence

Portfolio (max 20 pages, pdf-format)

Maximum size for the portfolio is 100 Mb. Name the file as: Portfolio-surname-firstname.pdf

 

Relevance of previous studies

What is evaluated

Content and quantity in relation to the applied study-option-specific requirements

What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements

Bachelor in Architecture

Method of demonstrating competence

degree certificate(s)

 

 

Phase II

Suitability

What is evaluated

Motivation for studies

What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements

The applicant should clarify the reasons for applying to Aalto University and the expectations and goals for studying in the programme. What are his/her particular areas of interests, and objectives and hopes regarding the studies in the study option of Architecture in the Master’s programme in Urban Studies and Planning at Aalto University. Applicants must specify their visions of architecture and urban design, and demonstrate their special interest in multidisciplinary urban development.

Method of demonstrating competence

Motivation letter

(max 400 words, pdf-format)

 

Relevance of previous studies

What is evaluated

Content and quantity in relation to the applied study-option-specific requirements

What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements

Applicant should demonstrate a thorough knowledge comparable to the Bachelor education in architecture at Aalto University

Method of demonstrating competence

Transcript(s) of records

 

 

Other areas of competence

What is evaluated

Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. publications, non-formal education, competitions

What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements

The applicant should reflect on their education so far and how it has shaped their understanding of the relevance of architecture and urban studies.

Method of demonstrating competence

Letter of self-reflection (max 600 words, pdf-format) with curriculum vitae, letter of references, proof of employment, publications, study visits or other relevant material attached as appendix.

 

Suitability

What is evaluated

The interview is tied together with the required application material and will test applicants’ further motivation and suitability to the field of study. 

What we look for in an applicant/Admission requirements 

The applicants should demonstrate:

  • critical reflection on your academic and professional achievements in relation to the objectives of the field of study
  • an elaborated introduction into 1-2 projects showcased in the portfolio
  • an articulated understanding of the content of the field of study

Method of demonstrating competence

Interview

 

Evaluation process

The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.

The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases and is described next.

Phase I

In Phase I, the applicants are evaluated based on the following criteria

  • Artistic and/or design practice
  • Relevance of previous studies/degree

The applicant´s portfolio is reviewed independently by at least three selection committee members and graded according to communication skills, technical skills, understanding of context and understanding of space-making with special focus on the urban planning and urban design. The final grade for phase I is achieved by averaging out the grades of the various reviews by the selection committee members. Only the applications who fulfill the requirements in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to phase II in the selection process.

Phase II

In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria

  • Suitability/Motivation letter
  • Relevance of previous studies/Transcript(s) of records
  • Other areas of competence
  • Suitability/Interview

The selection committee members will review the motivation letter, transcripts and letter of self-reflection and evaluate it according to the given criteria.

On the basis of the application documents and the results of the phase I, some of the applicants will be selected to an interview.

The interviews are conducted online. The invitation to the second phase is sent to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance. 

After the evaluation conducted in Phase II, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation from Phases I and II.

Study-option-specific documents requested

The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study-option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:

Portfolio

A portfolio composed of the applicant's own work samples (exercises, possible other work, etc.) must be enclosed in the application with integrated CV and motivation letter. The portfolio must illustrate the applicant's design skills and artistic nature in a broad-based and versatile manner. The main focus of the evaluation is placed on design sketches and other image material. The portfolio and other application documents must demonstrate the applicant’s competence related to building design and the scope of their studies in building design, required in the Bachelor level studies towards a degree in Architecture.

Maximum size for the portfolio is 100 Mb. Name the file as: Portfolio-surname-firstname.pdf

CV

The application should include a CV which states the applicant's personal data, information on their education, work experience and other professional/artistic activities and achievements (exhibitions, publications, prizes and grants, study visits and positions of trust, etc.). CV should be integrated to the portfolio.

Motivation letter

In the motivation letter (max. 400 words), the applicant must explain why he/she is applying to study architecture, what are his/her particular areas of interests, and objectives and hopes regarding the studies in the study option of Architecture in the Master’s programme in Urban Studies and Planning at Aalto University. Applicants must specify their visions of architecture and urban design, and demonstrate their special interest in multidisciplinary urban development. Motivation letter is integrated to the portfolio.

Letter of self-reflection

(max 600 words, pdf-format) with curriculum vitae, letter of references, proof of employment, publications, study visits or other relevant material attached as appendix.

Language of application documents

The application documents must be submitted in English

Complementary studies

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

Contact information

Learning Services at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture

For enquiries regarding programme-specific application documents orstudies in the programme, please contact Aalto ARTS Learning Services.

[email protected]

Admissions Services

For enquiries regarding the application process, obligatory application documents or English language proficiency, please contact Admissions Services.

[email protected]

The application period is open until 2.1.2023 15:00 (UTC+2)

Apply now
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