Prospective Students

Background: Urban Transformation

Urban areas in advanced economies face major spatial challenges with a long lasting impact on cities. The drivers for urban transformation are manifold and include technological changes and digitalization, migration and demographic shifts, climate change, increasing relevance of agglomeration economies as well as post- and re-industrialization.
Spatial implications of structural change and the organization of such transformation demand for deliberate strategies to revitalize the traditional manufacturing cores. These include a wide range of new forms of interventions such as social innovation, governance, resilience, urban laboratories and urban strategy.

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Why Dortmund School of Planning?

Given the geographical location in Ruhr, the master program ‘Urban Transformation’ benefits from the extensive experience in the region. The Ruhr became a touted model for transition regions and serves as a laboratory with excellent opportunities to learn about the challenges as well as strategies of transforming and revitalizing post-industrial locations. The IBA Emscher Park strategy (1989-1999) is known worldwide as a particular innovative planning practice. The unique strategy of re-imaging and revitalizing the industrial landscape has raised considerable interest among planners and policy makers.
The spatial implications of structural change and the transformation of the Ruhr have always influenced academic debates as well as research at our School. Complementing the local experience, international examples are also integrated into the program. These enable our students to identify similarities as well as differences on a local, national and global scale.

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Aim of the Master's Program

The one-year M.Sc. program at Dortmund School of Planning aims to attract highly qualified students, wishing to learn more about innovative strategies to transform cities and regions at a location offering brilliant in situ conditions to understand the complexity of governance and planning. The program builds upon a bachelor program in spatial planning, as established at our school. The philosophy of the Master program is based on the understanding of planning as a multi-disciplinary discipline. The courses and projects in the program seek to bridge international theories of structural change and spatial transformation with the practice of governance in cities and regions.

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Outline of the Master's Program

Module 1
Lecture - ungraded essay (2 CP)
Ruhrlecture: discussing urban transformation theories on a global perspective with international guests

Seminar - graded presentation and term paper (6 CP)
Ruhrseminar: discussing structural change and spatial development in advanced urban economies.

Module 2
Selection of 1 graded Master Project or Urban Design Studio (12 CP) with up to five other students.

Module 3
Selection of 2 graded (6 CP each) and 2 ungraded seminars (4 CP each).

Seminar titles are (the titles change from semester to semester, with the exception of few, and to include important current topics.): 

• European experiences in transformation processes
• Post-industrial regions as laboratories of structural change
• Strategic urban development in shrinking cities and regions
• Legacy cities in the Northern Hemisphere
• Temporary Land Use
• Topics in Urban Economics
• Smart Cities

Module 4
Master’s Thesis (20 CP)


Find out more about the outline of the Master's program and the offered seminars at our School in the Module Handbook.

Overview: Current selection of courses

Lecture | Ruhr Lecture

Prof. T. Wiechmann, Dennis Hardt, Letizia Imbres

This year the RUHR LECTURE is organized in cooperation with the RAG-STIFTUNG and is dedicated to the Future of the Ruhr Region. The series showcases the broad range of disciplines involved in metropolitan research in the University Alliance Ruhr (UAR): Researchers from all three universities as well as experts from various disciplines give insights into their current work. While the main focus lies on the Ruhr Region, experiences from other metropolitan regions are included in a comparative approach.

The series is part of the activities of the Network Ruhr (Urban and Regional Research Network Ruhr,

Contact and further information:


M-Project | Tourists and the City: The Interplay Between Tourism and Urban Renewal

Rogério de Jesus Pereira Lopes

In recent years, debates on the influence of the tourism industry and especially of short-term rental opportunities on the local housing market and business have been gaining significant attention in urban politics and planning, as the number of cities in Europe and elsewhere affected by unwanted consequences of tourism has significantly been growing. Besides congestion and consumer related design of inner cities, gentrification is probably the most controversial effect.

Large parts of quite a few European inner cities have already been transformed into touristic hotspots for consumption and short-term lodging. These transformations especially affect autochthonous residents who have been living in the inner city neighborhoods for most of their life. In some places these circumstances force residents to move out of their apartments and neighborhoods, usually being cheap places to live. This kind of „housing-related involuntary residential dislocation” (Marcuse 1985: 207) is strongly connected to the rising prices on the conventional housing market. In some cases, indirect dislocation processes may intensify the consequences. Some autochthonous residents prefer moving out, because they feel revoked from their everyday life and networks.

Objective of the project could be to investigate the relevance of tourism related development policies and planning or the role of web-based short-time rental platforms for these transformations. Also, a comparison between different urban renewal strategies and their effects on tourism development and on possible gentrification-based processes might be an option.

Cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Oporto and Hamburg could serve as potential case studies. Anyway, it will be up to the students to define one or more suitable case studies after the initial phase of the project.

Recommended literature:

Cócola Gant, Augustín 2015: Tourism and commercial gentrification. Conference paper: The Ideal City - Between myth and reality. Representations, policies, contradictions and challenges for tomorrow’s urban life, 08/27/2015 – 08/29/2015 in Urbino (Italy)

Gotham, Kevin Fox 2005: Tourism gentrification: The case of New Orleans’ Vieux Carre (French Quarter). In: Urban Studies, 2005, 42/7: 1099-1121

Huning, Sandra; Novy, Johannes 2006: Tourism as an Engine of Neighborhood Regeneration? Some Remarks towards a Better Understanding of Urban Tourism beyond the “Beaten Path”. Berlin: Center for Metropolitan Studies

de Jesus Pereira Lopes, Rogério 2018: Tourismusgentrifizierung in Lissabon: Eine empirischeAnalyse der bisherigen Folgen in Mouraria. Dortmund: Technische Universität Dortmund

Kritische Geographie Berlin 2014: Touristification in Berlin – Ein Bericht zur Workshop-Reihe des Vereins Kritische geographie Berlin. In: suburban, 2014, 2/1: 167-180

Marcuse, Peter 1985: Gentrification, abandonment, and displacement: Connections, causes, and policy responses in New York City. In: Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law, 28, 195-240

Pasquinelli, Cecilia u. Bellini, Nicola 2017: Global context, Policies and Practices in Urban Tourism: An Introduction. In: Bellini, Nicola; Pasquinelli, Cecilia (Ed.): Tourism in the City – Towards an integrative agenda on urban tourism. Basel: Springer International Publishing, 1-28


M-Project | Who is doing better? Post-industrial regions in comparison

Prof. Ch. Zöpel, Prof. K. Zimmermann

Upper Silesia and the Ruhr region represent post-industrial regions in different evolutionary stages. In Upper Silesia, mining is still very relevant as coal is the primary source for energy production in Poland. In contrast, the Ruhr region went through several stages of structural change and transformation, including the change of landscape and urban environment and the re-constituion of the economy. Still, we can’t say that Upper Silesia is lagging behind. The environmental regeneration of the rivers and streams (i.e. the Rava river in Kattowitz) is still to be done and has by far not reached the relevance of the Emscher regeneration. The same applies for Urban Regeneration in some cities and towns. However, the mining museum in Kattowitz as a public space and driver for structural change is of extraordinary quality. Also in terms of regional governance, the new planning association, located in Kattowitz, seems to be on a promising way.

It is the goal of this M-Project to compare the two regions and to identify success factors and risks in the process of structural transformation. What has been done in the past and which are the next steps? We will give a particular emphasis on

Museums: are they the sites where new ideas about the future and the past will emerge?

Universities: in both regions the universities are main drivers for regional and territorial development. What is their future role? Who has done better?

Post-coal strategies: what can Upper Silesia learn from the Ruhr?

We will do an excursion and visit cities in upper silesia (funding opportunity DAAD). Due to excellent contacts to universities, political institutions and foundations, students will have easy access with regard to interview partners and data. Eventually, we will also visits other sites such as the Museum Plein in Limburg which is considered an excellent case for a cultural institution being a main actor for regional development.

Recommended readings:

Benneworth, P./Charles, D./ Mandanipour, A., 2010: Building localized interactions between universities and cities through university spatial development, in: European Planning Studies 18, S. 1611-1629.

Brownley Raines, A. 2011. “Wandel durch (Industrie) Kultur [Change through (industrial) culture]: conservation and renewal in the Ruhrgebiet,” Planning Perspectives 26: 183-207.

Heidenreich, M. 2015. “The New Museum Folkwang in Essen. A Contribution to the Cultural and Economic Regeneration of the Ruhr Area?” European Planning Studies 23:1529-1547.

INWIS/PROGNOS 2014: Lehren aus dem Strukturwandel im Ruhrgebiet für die Regionalpolitik. Bremen/Berlin/Bochum.

Percy, Susan 2003: The Ruhr – from Dereliction to Recovery, in: Crouch, C./Fraser, C./ Percy, S. (Ed) Urban Regeneration in Europe, 150-165.

Sobala-Gwosdz, A.,/ K. Gwosdz. 2017. ““Katowice effect”? Regeneration of the site of the former Katowice coal mine through prestige cultural projects.” Urban Development Issues 56:27–40.


Seminar | English Urban Planning

Johanna Feier

Der Schwerpunkt des fachsprachlichen Englischkurses im Rahmen des Studium fundamentale bildet die Rezeption und Produktion studienrelevanter Texte im Bereich der Raumplanung. Dazu gehören die Aneignung eines spezifischen Fachwortschatzes sowie der Kenntniserwerb fachsprachlicher syntaktischer Strukturen. Der Kurs bereitet konkret auf Studienaufenthalte im englischsprachen Ausland vor und vermittelt entsprechende sprachliche Kompetenzen in den vier Fertigkeitsbereichen. Unterrichtsmaterial stellt eine Kopiervorlage dar.

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Seminar | Temporary Land Use: Evolving Practices & Processes

Robin Chang

Low-risk, incremental, short-term, inexpensive, urban intervention and potentially long-term improvement: not quite a slogan, but convincing catchphrases for which temporary use (TU) is now known (Arieff, 2011; Bishop & Williams, 2012; Elisei, D. P., 2014; Ferreri, 2015; Glick, 2012; Lydon et al., 2012; Pfeifer, 2013; URBACT, 2016). The rise of attention to small-scale, urban practices at the street and site scale are, compared to traditional and bureaucratic planning practices, easier means to “more substantial investments” and greater “larger scale efforts” (Arieff, 2011; Bishop & Williams, 2012; Colomb, 2012; Ferreri, 2015; Lydon, Bartman, Woudstra, & Khawarzad, 2012).

But how do temporary measure build or improve upon existing practices and processes? And what are the factors that drive and impede the empheral approach to urban regeneration? In this course students will be encouraged to build upon their existing knowledge of planning practices and processes and investigate the potential organizational and site-level innovations required to effectively and temporarily regenerate urban landscapes. The examination of current (and local) case studies will help students to apply their learning and contribute to practical projects.


Arieff, A. (2011). Temporary Is the New Permanent: Despite their co-option by marketing teams, the pop-up remains a sharp tool in the urban revitalization kit. Retrieved from

Bishop, P., & Williams, L. (2012). Temporary urbanism. drivers and conditions. In P. Bishop & L. Williams (Eds.), The Temporary City (pp. 21–35). London, New York: Routledge.

Colomb, C. (2012). Pushing the Urban Frontier: Temporary Uses of Space, City Marketing, and the Creative City Discourse in 2000s Berin. Journal of Urban Affairs, 34(2), 131–152.

Elisei, D. P. (2014). Temporary Use as a Tool for Urban Regeneration.

Ferreri, M. (2015). The seductions of temporary urbanism | ephemera. Ephemera, 15(1), 181–191. Retrieved from

Lydon, M., Bartman, D., Woudstra, R., & Khawarzad, A. (2012). Tactical Urbanism Volume 1: Short-term Action || Long-term Change. Retrieved from The Street Plans Collaborative website:

Glick, D. (2012). Bottom-Up Urbanism: A Survey of Temporary Use in Europe. Retrieved from

Pfeifer, L. (2013). Tactical Urbanism and the Role of Planners (Master). McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Retrieved from

URBACT. (2016). #refillthecity: An URBACT project on ensuring long-term effects of temporary use on Retrieved from


Seminar | Growth Management - Comparative Analysis of Strategies and Policies in Selected Metropolitan Areas

Prof. St. Siedentop

Although demographic and economic growth pressures have considerably slowed down in many developed countries within the past decades, the management of urban development remains a key issue of urban and regional planning. Even countries with a low economic performance and population decline have to cope with an ongoing expansion of built-up areas – often at the expense of prime farmland or conservation areas – and the emergence of a dispersed, car-reliant and less infrastructure efficient urban form. Urban Sprawl is a global issue and – with a view on its negative externalities – a fundamental economic, social and environmental challenge.

The opportunities of urban and regional planning to reduce urban sprawl and achieve (or preserve) a compact, resource efficient urban form are heavily disputed in the scientific and political realm. Whereas as some scholars consider planning and related market interventions – often referred to as ‘urban growth management’ – as a crucial requirement for a more sustainable urbanization, others refer to negative effects of growth controls such as the inflation of land and housing prices or a spatial ‘spill over’ of land development towards less regulated rural areas.

A middle position argues that growth management policies have to provide households and businesses with sufficient developable land and to avoid a wasteful use of land resources. Urban growth management answers how much developable land is needed and where and how new development should take place. At the regional as well as urban scale concepts of compact, walkable and transit-oriented development have become influential as a normative orientation.

The main objective of this seminar is to study the practice of growth management in selected case study regions. Students will work in teams and each team elaborates a single case study. This covers an analysis of implemented policies and an evaluation of their real effects in certain domains. Potential study regions are London (UK), Melbourne (Australia), Portland (USA), Seoul (South Korea), Stuttgart (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland).


Bengston, D.N. et al. (2004): Public policies for managing urban growth and protecting open space. Policy instruments and lessons learned in the United States. In: Landscape and Urban Planning 69: 271-286.

Distelkamp, M., Mohr, K., Siedentop, S., Ulrich, P. (2011): 30-ha-Ziel realisiert. Konsequenzen des Szenarios Flächenverbrauchsreduktion auf 30 ha im Jahr 2020 für die Siedlungsentwicklung. Forschungen, Band 148. Bonn: Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung.

Pallagst, K. (2007): Growth management in the US: Between theory and practice. Aldershot: Ashgate.


Seminar | Complexity continued: Concepts for Adaptive Planning

Robin Chang

This course will introduce students to specific concepts from complexity thinking that relate to adpativeplanning. Process-based concepts such as self-organization, emergence and evolution will be explored in greater detail and related to the ongoing community energy deployment work from Energy Action Partners and their interactive Minigrid Game. For more details visit their website at

More specifically, learning objectives include using complexity framing to help identify community values and appropriate, resilient renewable energy systems for ongoing project partners. Interested students may contact the lecturer at robin.chang@tu-dortmund for further details.

This seminar is recommended for those who have taken the previous seminar Planning Alternatives: Complex Perspectives and Processes.


Seminar | Urban climate change adaption governace and the transformation to sustainable urban governance

Rick Hölsgens

Sustainable urban planning is a complex challenge, that requires new governance structures and novel and inclusive approaches. In this seminar, which focus on the social and governance challenges of sustainable urban development, barriers and chances for a sustainable city planning will be examined. Innovative urban governance and participation approaches will be discussed, and the students will be encouraged to do further research in search of novel and sustainable approaches that not only cover environmental, but also social and economic challenges. The goal of this seminar is two-fold. Firstly students will learn about the complexity of urban transformation processes. And secondly, they will address these challenges with newly developed ideas and concepts for successful governance and the transformation to sustainable urban governance.


Seminar | Advanced Urban Economics

Dr. Sara Mitchell

In this seminar we are going to analyse in great depth various aspects of Advanced Urban Economics in order to obtain a better understanding of locational distributions of individuals, households, firms, capital and goods and services in cities. Students can largely decide which particular topic they find most interesting. However, it is essential that topics are analysed using state of the art scientific literature as well as empirical analysis.

Potential areas of interest could be:

Agglomeration of households in hip neighbourhoods and the impact on housing prices

Neighbourhood choice and the impact of migration on cities

Industrial organisation in cities

Anything topical which students find of interest


Seminar | Economics of Digitalisation

Vanessa Hellwig

In this seminar we are going to analyse in great depth various aspects of Digitisation in order to obtain a better understanding of the impact of the internet on our Economies and Cities in particular international interconnectedness in any forms on economic activity. One important factor is that the internet mitigates information costs considerably as well as often rendering space insignificant.

Since the seminar is available for economics students as well as students in spatial planning, students can largely decide which particular topic they find most interesting. However, it is essential that topics are analyzed using state of the art scientific literature as well as empirical analysis.

Potential areas of interest could be:

Does the internet render physical proximity unnecessary?

Is the internet replacing or complementing stationary economic activity?

How important is the internet for innovation?

How does the internet change our cities?

Implementation of smart city concepts and their effects

How do smart technologies change a city?


Seminar: Participation Processes & Complex Adaptive Systems

Robin Chang

Without a doubt, participation processes are an integral component of the contemporary planning practice. But how beyond inclusion of stakeholders for the sake of inclusion and engagement, what are the dimension necessary to consider so that planning processes and decision-making can capture the trust and value of all persons involved in the context of complex and adapting systems?

This seminar encourages students to confront the nexus between public participation with dynamic social and alternative energy systems. By seeking to address the challenges of change, the seminar aims to helps students understand current research on how communities are building adaptive capacity through shared values to improve the ability to respond to change. A Complexity thinking and Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach inform the seminar content. A real-life case study featuring the challengse of deploying decentralized, renewable energy systems in South-East Asia (in partnership with Energy Action Partners will be integrated into course-work.


Arnstein, Sherry R. (1969): A Ladder Of Citizen Participation. In Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35 (4), pp. 216–224. DOI: 10.1080/01944366908977225.

Innes, Judith Eleanor; Booher, David E. (2018): Planning with complexity. An introduction to collaborative rationality for public policy /  Judith E. Innes, David E. Booher. Second edition. London: Routledge.

Lasse Gerrits; Martin Wirtz: Teaching Complexity by means of Problem-Based Learning: Potential, Practice, and Pitfalls, checked on 2/16/2018.