As events and transformations of the recent decades have forcefully shown, the urban question permeates all major social, economic and political developments of today. The two-year Master’s programme in Urban Studies critically engages with the wide-ranging manifestation of contemporary urbanity. What shapes have the processes of urbanisation assumed today? How are urban spaces produced?
The programme foregrounds the unitary perspective of the city as a physical space, a social space and a space of design. It combines rigorous academic research with intensive fieldwork. The programme is situated at the trans-disciplinary crossroad of urban studies, urbanism and urban planning, architecture theory, sociology, urban ethnography and geography. Our students have academic backgrounds in architecture, social sciences or humanities. Integrating critical interrogation and experimental practice, the programme has a triple focus on social uses, spatial programmes and urban forms.
The form of assignments includes term-long research studios, intensive workshops, lectures, seminars and field trips. The distinctive mark of the Urban Studies programme is its reliance on theoretically-informed action in the field. We take students’ efforts seriously: the programme engages ‘real’ actors and create opportunities for public presentation, discussion and publication of the best works.
The Master’s programme is fully in English and has a strong international orientation. We cooperate with a network of partner institutions in Europe, and we are connected to regional partners in Finland, the Baltic countries and Russia. The curriculum includes a number of workshops and lecture courses by international scholars, architects, urban planners and activists.
The education prepares students to engage with urban issues at the intersection between design practice, political practice and theoretical knowledge (urban design, urban and spatial planning, state and municipal policy making, public expertise, community advocacy, social activism, academic and practice-based research). Our graduates work in public administrations, urbanism-focused NGOs, architecture design offices, private consultancies and advocacy organisations. The programme also prepares graduates for further study at the PhD level.
Knowledge and skills
The broad themes of the first three semesters are: 1) key concepts in urban studies, urban history; 2) urban scenarios and urban agenda setting; and 3) urban regeneration, the logic of urban interventions. The fourth semester is reserved for the Master’s Thesis project and Master Studio.
Structure of the Curriculum
Pedagogically, the curriculum consists of:
- lectures courses, in which key debates in contemporary urban and architectural theory is presented;
- reading seminars, where students are engaged in critical discussion of these debates;
- projects (the core element of the programme), in which students learn how to deal with real situations, engage in them, analyse and propose solutions; a wide range of methods is introduced, including interventions, research, creative planning, urban design, urban management, and scenario planning;
- invited guest lecturers, in which bring the projects are complemented with the up-to-date knowledge from the field of urban design practice;
- annually changing intensive modules on topical themes; these modules are shared between first and second year MA students, helping the two groups integrate;
- excursions to cities in the Baltic Sea Region and Europe, where studied theoretical and design problems can be grasped in situ and in transnational perspective.
In many courses, Urban Studies students work in collaboration with students of architecture and urban landscapes. The student groups are small, and there are more contact hours per credit than in most comparable programmes.
Maria Derlõš is an Urban Studies student, an activist in Lasnamäe, the largest housing estate in Estonia, and the leader of the Lasnaidee (the ideas for Lasnamäe) non-profit association. Currently, she has one foot in community activism, while the other is engaged in local policy and planning with the other. During her studies, Maria also started to work in the Estonian Urban Lab (Linnalabor) by organising exploratory walks to urban peripheries. She is now one of its board members, dealing with the popularisation of urban studies, the promotion of inclusive city development and citizen participation in urban planning.
“Growing up in Lasnamäe, I have always been attentive to its inhabitants and dynamics. During my studies in the Urban Studies Master’s programme at EAA, this initial interest crystallised into a more coherent set of ideas and steps. I started the Lasnaidee project, organising community events and struggling to change the negative image associated with the neighbourhood. The studies helped me understand that beneath this image one finds valuable public spaces and rich everyday life. With the Urban Lab, I organised guided walks where experts and visitors can see this for themselves. I am continuously engaged with the issues of cooperation and community organisation, and I have recently become more involved with the planning process itself. While perhaps less colourful, planning is key for the just and equitable development of a city.”
Tuition fee: Free
For international students: submitted through Dream Apply by 3 May 2018
For Estonian students: submitted through SAIS by 3 May 2018
- 50€ application fee
- Copy of your Bachelor’s degree certificate or equivalent and its translation into Estonian, English or Russian (both, copies and translations have to be attested by notary).
- Copy of your Transcript of records (and translation into Estonian, English or Russian; both copy and translation must be attested by notary).
- Certificate of foreign language skills (attested copy)
- Copy of the data page of your passport or ID card
- Either design or written work (realized or published work is not required, but it is an advantage) in a field relevant to the discipline of Urban Studies (architecture, planning, social sciences, art history, etc.)
- Portfolio must be printed and mailed. Digital portfolios will not be accepted.
- Maximum length is 15 pages.
- Motivational letter
- In no more than 500 words, explain your reasons for applying to the programme and answer the following questions: What is urbanisation? Why do some cities grow while other shrink? Where is the boundary between cities and nature?