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Urban, Energy and Environmental Planning, Master

Academic content

Academic content

You can find out more below or in the Urban, Energy and Environmental Planning Curriculum

The education is structured in a way so you every semester have courses and project work. The problem oriented project work at the education gives you the possibility to combine the professional skills with your interests within development of sustainable cities as well as with actual challenges and problems that cities, inhabitants and the business conditions are facing.

The education is divided in four semesters that runs from September to January and from February to June (where January and June are reserved for the exams). This means that the student is typically completing the master’s degree in two years.

Each one of the first three semesters is subdivided in course modules and a project module. All the courses are being progressed in English. The fourth and thereby the last semester is dedicated to draw up a dissertation that often is being produced in a close cooperation with external stakeholders and supervision from minimum two partner universities. 

The education is based on international research work on the highest level and occupies with areas such as sustainable development, urban planning, air pollution, climate changes, ecological economics, environmental protection and planning, industrial ecology, material and energy flow analysis, sustainability assessment, waste and resource management and the connection between water, energy and food nexus.

Semester 1: Urban Transformation and Sustainable Engineering 

The first semester is focused on providing students with a strong and comprehensive foundation in understanding the complexities of urban development, globalization, sustainability and quality of life. The aim for the semester is preparation of suggestions for environmental and sustainability management improvements in a city context.

You have to be able to analyse and evaluate planning documents and visions in urban planning projects. In the analysis you will have to evaluate environmental factors such as wind and water and for example take climate adjustments into account. With this understanding you will after the first semester be able to draw up concepts and solutions that can be used in the future sustainable urban planning. 

Cities and sustainability


Theories of Science and Research Designs

The aim of the course is to give you a fundamental understanding about the historical and theoretical framework of theories of science at a graduate level. This will be used in relation to understanding and evaluate complex problems in projects and reflect critically on project-related choices of value bases, theories of science and methods.

Sustainable Urban Planning (course module 1)

The course in sustainable urban planning gives you an understanding of the complexities of contemporary urban planning. This is taking place when looking at the challenges and possibilities that sustainable infrastructure solutions give.

The course is also giving you the tools to analyse economic, environmental and social conditions and challenges in urban development. This means you can become a part of an interdisciplinary cooperation with experts and the public in planning urban solutions and proposals in relation to future urban planning.

Climate and Hydrology of the Dense City (course module 2)

Climate and hydrology of the dense city is a course where you gain knowledge about the causes to climate changes and a understanding of the past and future climate and the effects of global warming - both on a global and local scale. 

In continuation of this course you get knowledge about similarities and differences between rural and urban ecosystems that have to be used in relation to climate adjustments. Furtherrmore the course gives you tools to measure and model urban transformation processes.

Climate changes

On this semester you can work with questions such as:

  • Resilience or adjustment – new concepts for urban development (Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, Transition Towns)
  • Climate change and the influence on current and future cities (Assessment of Climate Change and Cities – ARC3)
  • Urban Metabolism (Urban Metabolism, Habitat III)

Semester 2: Designing Smarter Cities 

The second semester offers a comprehensive focus on risk assessment and engineering solutions to various environmental, social, economic and political problem areas that cities exhibit, e.g. integrated waste management, air and water pollution and energy consumption. The aim of the semester is to prepare suggestions for technical improvements and development to solve complex problems associated with urban development and sustainability by using theories and methods.


The Socio- Technical Context of Planning (Common course module)

The course gives you knowledge about the connection and mutual dependence that exists between urban, energy and environmental problems. Thereby you can analyse different planning and decision-making processes. The course makes you able to use and further develop socio-technical methods, concepts and theoretical approaches to analyse specific problems at an advanced level.

Sustainability Assessment and Societal Decision Processes (course module 1)

You will get an understanding about the socio-technical context where the ex-ante impact assessment has been developed and used. The module also gives you knowledge and understanding of how the impact assessment connects to societal decision-making processes on for example big infrastructures, technologies or spatial developments.

Urban Planning

Theories of the Network City and its Technologies (course module 2)

The theoretical course about the network city and its technologies gives you knowledge about technical forces that shape the network city and the societal consequences. You will learn to develop knowledge about the network city and its technologies and simultaneously understand the fundamental factors behind the foundation of the network. The course gives competences to analyse the network city on a theoretical and methodologically reflective level.

On this semester you can work with questions such as:

  • Smart Cities – what are they, how do we define them and how do we get their? (EU Lighthouse cities)
  • Sensors and technologies – urban development managed versus subsidized
  • Cities for people – the third way (Smart Aarhus, Scandinavian Smart Cities).

Semester 3: Professional Development 

Cities and Sustainability (CiSu) offers you a unique opportunity on 3rd semester. You are given the possibility of studying abroad for a semester and stay with one of the CiSu collaborators:

  • Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona
  • Technische Universität Hamburg 
  • Universidade de Aveiro

The strong collaboration between the four universities and the strong international profile is one of the things that makes the study programme special.

One of the reasons, it makes good sense to use the opportunity to study abroad at one of the above universities, is that you in advance know which course and project modules at the universities you can benefit from when you study Cities and Sustainability.

If you for a particular reason do not wish or have the opportunity to make use of the above opportunity to study abroad at a partner university, you can also choose to:

  • do an internship 
  • enroll at another (Danish or foreign) university in order to undertake a semester’s study there
  • write a 30 ECTS project
  • adding the 3rd and the 4th semester into a ‘prolonged project period’, if for instance the research question demands more time and energy for collecting data or conducting field studies.

Semester 4: Master’s Thesis 

In the final semester the main focus is on the writing of the Master’s thesis. Students work individually or in small groups, under the guidance of supervisory staff. The Master’s thesis, being the highest level of work undertaken, should aim at synthesising theories and methods in order to perform a potential solution for real life in the field of urban planning and sustainability.

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

The study method at AAU is called Problem Based Learning (PBL). Together with your fellow students you will work with real life problems by way of problem based project work.

learn more about Pbl at aau