Master of Science in Urban Studies: EMMC 4CITIES

The Master in Urban Studies (4Cities) is a unique two-year interdisciplinary and international programme. It has been selected as an Erasmus Mundus Master Course. 4Cities takes students to Brussels, Copenhagen, Vienna, Madrid and a number of surrounding cities. The programme adds a European perspective to the field of Urban Studies: it wants to break up and to open the national perspective on urban problems. The growing importance of globalisation and the shift towards a world of flows calls for a new approach in important fields of urban policy like culture, economy, planning…

The strength of the programme results from the integration of analytical skills typical for the (social-) sciences and the more design-oriented skills of planning and architecture. The need for interdisciplinary knowledge and skills as opposed to the more narrowly defined academic disciplines is strong.

For more detailed information and to apply, go to the 4CITIES website.

During a period of two years, students take part in an interdisciplinary programme and study in four European capitals - Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid and Vienna - and at six universities. Students live in each of the cities for one semester and spend part of the final semester in a location of their choice, to work on their Master's Thesis.

In each city the programme consists of:

  • Academic courses such as European Urban Studies, Urban Geography, Urban Sociology, Urban Economic Geography, Demography, Urban Planning and Urbanism, Urban Development in Eastern Europe, Urbanism and Architecture, Urban Culture and Cultural Theory, The Sustainable and Liveable City, ...
  • Fieldwork: Urban Analysis
  • Excursions & visits
  • Exams and papers, and thesis tutoring


Students will acquire scientific knowledge about the bases of urban theories in different disciplines, the city as a social product: factors, global context (globalisation, Europe, Fordism/ post-Fordism, modernism/post modernism), the local context and heritage, planning and design processes & systems, project management.

For an overview of all Master courses, click here.


In each of the cities students will be given a topic to study in group through extensive fieldwork. Fieldwork is organised in close cooperation with non-academic urban institutions and organisations and is closely linked to ongoing academic research in the city of residence.


During the programme several excursions will be organised to illustrate and discuss topics treated during the courses. This includes visits to public and private institutions and organisations (formal and informal ones) that are important for the local political, economic and cultural dynamics of the city.

I came to the VUB from the United States because the opportunity to join the 4Cities Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Urban Studies was too good to pass up. At the core of urbanity is the interaction of diversity, the ways in which different perspectives, attitudes, skill sets, and ways of living rub against each other. What better way to study urbanity than in situ, in six different universities, four different cities in four different countries, and with a cohort of 25 fellow students from wildly different academic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds? Our first stop was Brussels and VUB/ULB. The semester was intense, challenging, and inspiring. 4Cities was, for me, transformational in the best sense of the word.

Joshua Grigsby

I studied Development Planning as an undergraduate in Ghana. I was always interested in urban issues - especially urban transportation. So after my Bachelor degree I applied for a Master in Urban Studies at VUB. The multidisciplinary approach of the courses provided me with a wide variety of angles to view urban issues and it gave me the chance to push myself and to have an interest in other paradigms of thought. The semester at VUB was my first experience in Europe. But the diversity of the people, the vitality of the city together with its key function as the heart of the European Union meant that I could not have chosen a better city to start my education in Europe.

William Otchere-Darko