Study options

Master's Programme in Urban Studies and Planning, MSc in Landscape Architecture

Please note! This programme is not available during the application period 2020-2021.

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 Studies and Planning


Master of Science (Landscape Architecture)

Application period:

2.12.2019 – 3.1.2020

Language of instruction:



2 years, full-time


Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Technology and Engineering


120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

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

The application period has closed

Applying to master’s programmes

Please note! This programme is not available during the application period 2020-2021.

Study objectives

Urbanisation is a global phenomenon with direct impact on 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, Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, have joined forces in this unique and interdisciplinary master’s programme. Application through Aalto University’s admissions process is oriented towards applicants with bachelor’s degree in planning, architecture, landscape architecture and urban and real estate economy.

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

General Knowledge and Skills

After completing a degree in the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, the student will be able to:

  • Excel as a professional, capable of understanding and addressing complex urban development challenges,
  • 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, modelling, 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 Specialisations and Professions

After completing a degree in the master’s programme in Urban Studies & Planning, the student will be able to:

  • 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 specialisation as well as contextualise in relation to others,
  • Identify, differentiate and articulate relations among various theories and methods relevant to his/her own specialisation,  
  • 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,
  • Analysing phenomena and develop solutions through the use of digital and other tools, such as GIS and CAD,
  • Fulfil specific professional degrees in accordance with respective professional codes and directives (such as those of architects, landscape architects and urban planners), as relevant,
  • Demonstrate competence in working 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.

Study language(s)

All teaching is given in English.

Major or specialisation fields

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 (landscape 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.

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.


The programme offers several degree options 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), Master of Science (landscape 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 landscape architecture specialisation, the degree given is Master of Science (landscape architecture). Degree qualification in landscape architecture is provided for students who have a B.Sc. in landscape architecture (or equivalent).  In order to fulfil the requirements of the landscape architecture degree, students need to carefully follow the structure of studies, and their elective studies can be regulated.

Post graduate study options

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.

Content of the studies

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 programme 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 programme joins leading expertise from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. Signature elements of the programme include studios that 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 urbanisation. 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 in a joint effort towards a common challenge and emphasising an outward and forward-looking perspective.

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

Landscape architecture is a multidisciplinary field for design and planning of outdoor spaces, their construction and management in a full range of scales. Landscape architecture combines expertise in the arts, natural sciences and technology. Ethics, ecology and functionality are the fundamental values of Landscape Architecture. The aim is to create sustainable, well-planned environments and communities. The key content in USP landscape architecture studies are emphasized with urban focus, advanced multidisciplinarity and tools to work with the questions of landscape in the urban context.

Structure of studies

The Master of Science (landscape 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.

Elective studies are to include at least two additional studios from the Master´s Programme in Landscape Architecture in Aalto University’s Architecture Department from the topics Landscape Planning and Management and Landscape Design and Construction. The thesis should be written about one of the topics included in the Master´s Programme in Landscape Architecture in the Architecture Department.


The master’s thesis (30 credits) is a piece of applied research conducted independently by the student. Its key goal is to solve a problem relevant to the field of study, based on existing scientific knowledge and in compliance with the principles of responsible conduct of research. Master’s theses are written on topics related to the advanced studies of the programme, agreed upon by the student and the supervising professor. A master’s thesis may be, for example, a research and development project carried out for an industrial partner outside the university, or it can be connected with an ongoing research project of the department. Completing a master’s thesis usually takes six months of full-time work.


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.

Corporate and other collaboration

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.

Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

What we look for in an applicant

We expect the applicants to have a prior degree in an applicable field, for example in landscape architecture, a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Design and Construction or in the field of natural sciences. Applicants should have landscape architectural design skills, visualisation skills, artistic creativity and the motivation and commitment to study landscape architecture.

Evaluation criteria

The criteria we use to evaluate the applications (in the first stage) are

  • Applicable prior degree (to Landscape Architecture)
  • The quality of the application as a whole, especially the quality of the portfolio
  • The amount of applicable studies and previous academic performance
  • The motivation and commitment of the applicant on the basis of a motivation letter

In addition to these, in the second stage the evaluation criteria also includes

  • Aptitude based on the interview

First stage and required application documents

In the first stage of the evaluation the selection committee evaluates the applications based on the application documents. Study Option’s requirements for the application documents are listed below. Please also note requirements for the application documents presented in the general application instructions.

Portfolio including the CV and motivation letter is to be submitted by postal mail.


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 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 is integrated to the portfolio.

Motivation letter

In the motivation letter (max. 4,000 characters), the applicant must explain why he/she is applying to study landscape architecture, what are his/her particular areas of interests, and objectives and hopes regarding the studies in the Master’s programme in Urban Studies and Planning at Aalto University. Applicants must specify their visions of landscape architecture and explain how the visions can be seen in the portfolio’s work samples. Motivation letter is integrated to the portfolio.

Language of application documents

The application documents must be submitted in English.

Second stage

On the basis of the application documents, some of the applicants will be selected to an interview. Applicants can take part in the interview either in person or via skype. The invitation to the second stage is sent to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance.

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.

The application period has closed

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