The Master of Science in Human Settlements (MaHS) critically addresses the challenges set by major urban transformations across the globe, with an eye towards environmental degradation and sustainability, rising socio-spatial inequalities, scarcity and well-being. These issues are explored during an intensive 12-month programme that involves design studios, workshops and an international guest lecture series. A complementary set of theoretical courses inspires a deeper awareness of shifting development paradigms over time. It additionally suggests conceptual frameworks that can help overcome the lasting dichotomies in the field of human settlements, such as formal/ informal and tradition/ modernity.

The MaHS builds on the legacy of the Postgraduate Centre for Human Settlements, established in 1978 under the patronage of UN-Habitat. As such, it is premised on the crucial relevance of fieldwork and action-research within the over-arching recognition of space as an increasingly limited resource. The programme will consequently equip its participants with a complex combination of tools to critically re-articulate both the design and planning professions, leaving room for altruism, activism and inclusive design. Relatedly, landscape urbanism, the understanding of urban ecologies and the ambition to enhance the social engagement of design and planning practice are approaches reflected in the coursework and in the choice of themes addressed in the design studios.

We welcome architects, urbanists and spatial planners as well as social scientists eager to engage with design thinking. While architecture, planning and urbanism are core disciplines of the curriculum, inter-disciplinary teamwork is encouraged by an intensely international setting.

The programme is recognised by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR) as an International Course Programme (ICP). It is partly funded by the Directorate General of International Cooperation (DGIC) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Students who have successfully completed the Master of Human Settlements program (MaHS) might enrol directly into the third semester of the MaUSP program, on the condition that during the MaHS program, the student has proven a strong orientation towards design and/or planning topics. A possible intention to proceed with the MaUSP program should therefore be considered when starting the Master of Human Settlements program. Admission into the third semester of MaUSP will be approved after accomplishment of the MaHS program with excellent results (cum laude).