Graduation program 2022/23

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

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.
    By studio coordinators
    A first event will elaborate the themes of Planning Complex Cities graduations and provide insight into the basic workings of the studio. A workshop will support reflection on matches between students’ and studio interests.
  • Planning Complex Cities: A workshop to find common interests.
    By Planning Complex Cities 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. Two 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 & Practice,  and Governance, Policies and Stakeholders.

On Planning Theory & Practice – Exploring relations between spatial and institutional change

The basic starting points of Planning Complex Cities graduation projects are observations of disparities and conflicts arising from the distribution of spatial resources across communities and territories. In a typical graduation trajectory, central propositions on the institutional causes and drivers of these spatial manifestations of inequity are first formulated. Those propositions may concern formal institutions embodied in, for example, legal and regulatory planning frameworks, policy delivery mechanisms, obligatory cooperation between governments, or formal distributions of power. Propositions may also concern informal institutions, e.g. the voluntary engagement of communities in planning processes, invisible power distributions, planning and governance cultures, traditionalised norms guiding spatial practices, dominant discourses, or even ideologies. During Planning Complex Cities graduations, the interrelations between spatial and institutional factors are explored in depth. Conclusions from projects typically target institutional change and demonstrate how this change can lead to new, more sustainable and just spatial development, by means of design.

The intensive ‘On Planning Theory & Practice’ aims at supporting students in the laying of conceptual foundations for Planning Complex Cities graduations. Students sketch problem definitions, propositions, research aims, questions, and outcomes concerning the above described interrelations. Lectures will introduce them to theories from the fields of design, planning, the political sciences, and geography, thus allowing for the positioning of initial project proposals in these fields. Discussions on spatial planning and design practice will support this positioning. Workshops and self-study exercises will enhance the application of knowledge to the cases students intend to investigate, and thus the building of a thesis plan. The intensive course will also touch on methods used to assess the performances of spatial planning and enable initial thoughts on an appropriate research methodology in this way.


The programme of the class is designed to support an iterative approach to the building of a thesis plan. Students will firstly sketch a problem field and envision an outline solution, and secondly develop a more detailed problem definition and proposition on how spatial planning can lead to more sustainable and just spatial outcomes. The program of the class foresees four themed blocks:

  • #1 Why spatial planning? – This block first discusses the wide array of socio-spatial developments that can trigger a demand for spatial planning. Through reflecting on notions about public goods, spatial justice, and democracy, it then introduces central (at times contested) definitions of and arguments for and against planning. Centrally the block elaborates the subjects of spatial planning: territory, space, and place. It is shown how different perceptions of these subjects have influenced the evolution of planning fashions over time. Students will use input for the initial positioning of their research in scientific debate, and the outlining of a problem field.
  • #2 Performances of spatial planning – By distinguishing planning principles, scopes, processes, and performances this block first provides a simple glossary for navigating spatial planning literature. The block’s main concern is an understanding of the context of critical spatial planning endeavours: institutions. A distinction of kinds of institutions will help students to detail the context they address by their research and design. They will use input for conceptualising a ‘solution space’: the kind of change they aim to investigate during their graduation.
  • #3 Ingredients of spatial planning: This block first elaborates determinants of spatial planning systems: the ways institutions help or hinder intended spatial planning outcome. It then discusses planning approaches that have emerged as a response to challenges and crisis recently. A distinction of these approaches and related instruments is intended to help students determine the problem field and aim of their graduation projects in more detail. Students will use input for drafting research questions too.
  • #4 Design & spatial planning: This block discusses the roles and performances of spatial design in the realms of spatial planning, governance, and civic participation. The block first introduces design and planning theory that explains these performances. It then discusses the impacts of kinds of designs on kinds of planning processes. The block will help students to formulate intended design outcomes of their graduation projects, and to anticipate on their critical engagement using these results.

After completion the student is able to

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the aims and impacts of spatial planning practice;
  2. distinguish spatial planning approaches conceptually and theoretically, and identify the relevance of approaches for distinct spatial and institutional circumstances;
  3. distinguish design approaches by their performances in the realms of planning, governance, and civic participation;
  4. use acquired knowledge for the building of a thesis plan.


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.

More information on this class will become available soon.

Planning Complex Cities studio activities

More information on activities will become available soon.

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 and P3 will be common events. 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.  Students are engaged in developing on-campus and online-formats that enhance peer exchange and social contacts. Coordinators and mentors support these formats.


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 coordinators

Dr. Caroline Newton, C.E.L.Newton-1@tudelft.nl
Dr. Verena Elisabeth Balz, v.e.balz@tudelft.nl

  • Help students find the right mentor during graduation orientation;
  • Organize studio activities;
  • Provide students with relevant information/run the Planning Complex Cities website (in case students wish to publish information, please don’t hesitate to contact);
  • Are important contacts in case students have new ideas about the studio format, feel  unsatisfied about it, or face particular problems during graduation.

7 thoughts on “Graduation program 2022/23.

  1. Pingback: Upcoming events. |

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

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