Masters Program: Critical Urbanisms

Migration research in the Mediterranean, 2019
Migration research in the Mediterranean, 2019. © Thomas Schirmer

In our rapidly changing and contested global environment, cities are becoming increasingly important: they house a majority of the world’s inhabitants and act as catalysts of social, political, economic, cultural, and ecological change. The MA in Critical Urbanisms at the University of Basel offers a pedagogical platform for understanding these planetary transformations. Our aim is to expand the study of the urban by examining today’s social struggles and global conflicts in relation to the legacies of empire and alternative practices of world-making and knowledge production. Our work starts from the premise that the world’s urban and environmental challenges call for new ways of thinking as well as doing. Imagining alternative futures means rethinking the present—its historical making, its political unfolding, and the ways in which it is made sensible.

The University of Basel’s Master in Critical Urbanisms is an English-taught four-semester program that trains a new generation of graduates to think and act beyond divisions of urban versus rural and North versus South in order to address the complexity of urban lifeworlds in the twenty-first century. The program is supported by an internationally recognized faculty who work on and with cities and territories from a global perspective. The curriculum trains students to develop theoretical and practical competencies, oriented toward both scholarly and public platforms, a combination essential to address the extraordinarily complex imperatives of urbanization in the 21st century.

Key Elements of the Program:

Degree: Master
Start of program: Fall 2020
Duration of study: 4 Semesters (including one optional semester in Cape Town)
Language: English
Application Period: 1 February - 30 April 2020

The curriculum trains students in interdisciplinary research practice that combines humanities and social-scientific methods with creative practice and visual representation. Drawing from the disciplines of architecture, geography, history, sociology, political science, and anthropology, it provides students with a unique grounding in urban research.

The curriculum offers immersive learning in dynamic urban settings, with the choice between a semester of study and research on urbanism in the Global South, which takes place at the African Centre for Cities of the University of Cape Town, or a semester of multi-sited fieldwork across North/South geographies. This new option is currently being developed, and will be first offered in Spring 2021. More details to follow.


The program targets students from a wide range of fields in the humanities and social sciences, as well as academically qualified professionals from the fields of architecture, landscape design, and urban and regional planning. The current application deadline for applications from students outside of Switzerland is 30 April 2020. Foreign students are advised to apply as soon as possible, ideally in the first week of February when applications open, to allow enough time for obtaining the student visa.

Further information:

Please note we are currently updating our study guidelines, including more information about the new option track. The new study guidelines will be available after 11 February. Feel free to contact us for more information. The old study guidelines can be found here.

More information and contact details can be found here.

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