Graduation program 2021/22

Draft! Please keep an eye on this webpage throughout graduation because information on events will be regularly updated.

Planning Complex Cities graduation students are interested in how spatial planning, territorial governance, and civic engagement shape the development of cities and regions. They investigate how these practices can be improved to achieve more sustainable and fair outcomes. Conclusions from projects recommend institutional change and demonstrate, by means of design, how this leads to new development patterns. Below it is briefly described how the objectives and approaches at the attention of Planning Complex Cities students are addressed during events organized by the studio.

Planning Complex Cities graduation orientation

The first two weeks of MSc Urbanism graduations are dedicated to orientation. During this period students select a studio and indicate a preference for a 1st mentor. The Planning Complex Cities group assists in this during two events.

  • Planning Complex Cities: An introduction to graduation topics.
    Wednesday, 1 September 2021, 8.45 – 11.15
    By studio coordinators
    A first event will elaborate the themes and sub-themes of Planning Complex Cities graduations and provide insight into the basic workings of the studio.
  • Planning Complex Cities: A workshop to find common interests.
    Wednesday, 8 September 2021, 8.45 – 11.15
    By Planning Complex Cities 1st mentors
    A second event is intended to help students to reflect upon the implications of Planning Complex Cities topics for their graduation project proposals. In addition it provides students with the opportunity to meet available Planning Complex Cities mentors in person.

Planning Complex Cities graduation exploration

Weeks 3-8 of the MSc Urbanism graduation curriculum are dedicated to the exploration of key graduation topics and methods. A series of two-weekly classes – so-called intensives – supports students in this exploration and thus the building of a thesis plan. Intensives that are closely aligned with the scope of the Planning Complex Cities studio are called On Planning Theory & PracticeGovernance, Policies and Stakeholders, and Social Sciences in Urbanism.

On Planning Theory & Practice

The intensive On Planning Theory & Practice is obligatory for Planning Complex Cities graduation students. It supports them in the initial formulation of proposition, and thus the laying of foundations of their graduation research. Activities will include lectures on planning theory, discussion rounds on planning practice, and workshops on applying the acquired knowledge to cases under consideration in research. The programme of the class foresees the below listed elements:

Why spatial planning?

  • Lecture #1 What is spatial planning anyhow? – This lecture will elaborate basic definitions of spatial planning and territorial governance in order to build common ground for further discussion.
  • Discussion & workshop #1 Why spatial planning? – This session will centre on the root causes of spatial planning. We will debate exemplary spatial planning practice in order to conceptually distinguish these causes.
  • Assignment #1 The problem field – Students use insights to describe the substantive problems they encounter in case study areas at the attention of their graduation research.

Performances of spatial planning

  • Lecture #2a A spatial planning glossary – This lecture will elaborate key terms and concepts that re-occur in theoretical reflections on spatial planning.
  • Lecture #2b Spatial planning fashions – This lecture will present outline criteria that are used to distinguish spatial planning approaches.
  • Discussion & workshop #2 Performances of spatial planning – During this session we will critically assess divers spatial planning approaches on their expected and actual performances.
  • Assignment #2 The solution space – Students use insights to formulate initial propositions on how spatial planning can contribute to the resolution of problems in case study areas.

Ingredients of spatial planning

  • Lecture #3 Ingredients of spatial planning – This lecture will introduce types of planning instruments.
  • Discussion & workshop #3 Barriers to spatial planning – During this session we will debate the appropriate use of planning instruments under distinct spatial and institutional circumstances.
  • Assignment #3 The problem statement – Students use insights to criticize prevalent spatial planning schemes in case study areas.

Design & spatial planning

  • Lecture #4 Spatial planning & design – This lecture will introduce theories that explain performances of design in the realms of spatial planning and governance.
  • Discussion & workshop #4 – During this session we will distinguish types of spatial design practices by their expected performances in the realm of spatial planning.
  • Assignment #4 The design – Students use insights to anticipate on how the design products that they will produce during their graduation relates to their propositions on spatial planning.
  • Expert review of proposals for problem statements, propositions and research questions.

Governance, Policies and Stakeholders

This intensive workshop provides the students with a conceptual foundation for a critical understanding and methodological one for researching governance and stakeholder engagement in spatial planning for regions and cities. Building on theoretical insight and hands-on assignments, the workshop will equip the students with skills and tools to explore and assess the performance of planning in terms of identification, articulation and coordination of stakeholder interests and inclusive decision-making in an increasingly complex and uncertain world.

Social Sciences in Urbanism

Urbanism deals with the interactions between people and places, between society and the built environment. In this intensive, students will be introduced to the social science approach to urbanism: they will learn 1/ methods to observe, capture and analyse how urban societies are organised and how individuals interact in cities; 2/ how to choose the most adequate social science method(s) to address their research question and 3/ how to apply them to empirical case studies

Other studio activities

Discussing Planning Complex Cities graduations

The first weeks of MSc Urbanism graduations are dedicated to orientation and exploration. After this period Planning Complex Cities students, mentors, and experts will form dedicated groups to discuss the progress of graduation projects. Initial discussions will relate to the Planning Complex Cities sub-themes Complex Regions in Transformation and Planning as Critical Engaged Practice. At later stages students will have a strong say in determining issues that require discussion. A detailed post-P1 program will emerge as a response to occurring demands.

Peer review and learning @ Ps

The studio program foresees regular peer exchange and learning during or around in particular assessment moments of graduations. P1, that does not formally require the attendance of 2nd mentors and Delegates of the Board of Examiners, will be a common event. P3 will be organized in a way that supports exchange, in particular between graduation students who share an interest in sub-studios. Other assessment moments of students  (P2, P5) will be broadly announced, so students have the opportunity to learn from each other’s presentations.

The studio as a social setting

Since the establishment of the Planning Complex Cities studio, we have built routines that support the formation of a socially engaged studio group. Many of these routines – largely drawing on on-campus meetings – lost their viability during the recent rounds of the studio, due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. As a response, students became engaged in developing new online-formats that compensate for a lack of in particular informal social contacts. They, for an instance, invented the so-called Smart Breaks – moments to lean back, to reflect, and to enjoy the academic setting that they came to experience at TU Delft in the first place (see also related posts on this webpage). During the 2021/2022 round of the studio we will maintain and combine these formats with on-campus activities according to upcoming requirements.


The Planning Complex Cities studio involves, next to students, alumni students, PhD students, mentors, professionals, and other experts. Below the functions of the ones who coordinate collaboration between all involved are briefly described.

Planning Complex Cities studio coordinator
Dr. Verena Elisabeth Balz, v.e.balz@tudelft.nl

  • Helps students find the right mentor during graduation orientation;
  • Is responsible instructor of the intensive Planning Theory & Practice;
  • Organizes other studio activities;
  • Provides students with relevant information/runs the Planning Complex Cities website (in case students wish to publish information, please don’t hesitate to contact);
  • Is an important contact in case students have new ideas about the studio format, feel  unsatisfied about it, or face particular problems during graduation.

Researchers responsible for sub-themes

Complex Regions in Transformation

Planning as Critical Engaged Practice

These people

  • Assist in the set-up and conduction of the Planning Complex Cities program;
  • Assist in the set-up and conduction of discussions on sub-themes;
  • Assist students in data acquisition, or the laying of contacts to stakeholders/organisations.

7 thoughts on “Graduation program 2021/22.

  1. Pingback: Upcoming events. |

  2. Pingback: Upcoming events. |

  3. Pingback: Orient! First event. |

  4. Pingback: Inclusive Cities – Sao Paulo, Shenzhen. |

  5. Pingback: Global cities – Third event on Complex cities graduations. |

  6. Pingback: Internationalisation and Planning – Fourth event on Complex cities graduations. |

  7. Pingback: Next round! | Planning Complex Cities TU Delft

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s