MA Urban Studies

Programme Description

MA in Urban Studies aims to produce graduates who bring a humanistic approach to urban concerns even as they are conversant with their technical and analytical aspects. The programme is rooted in the realities and experiences of the Global South, and has set up continuous interactions between the classroom and the field. It is built on three aspects of urbanism—the lived, the built, and the ecological—from which its content follows.

The programme should appeal to college graduates in fields with overlapping interests, including Planning, Sociology, and Geography; graduates interested in a PG programme that offers specialization in a relevant area; and practitioners with experience as researchers, civil society advocates, journalists and city planners who would like to reflect on their experiences in a systematic manner and to retool going forward.

The programme has three domain areas around which core courses and electives are designed, which includes 1) Space and Experiences; 2) Urban Planning and Policy; 3) Urban Environment and Ecology. Strong emphasis is placed on fieldwork and action-learning. Many of the courses are designed to include continuous engagement with the field, and a collaborative studio project will train students in hands-on work around a specific urban problem. Students will be trained in research methodologies leading to a final semester dissertation or action research.

  • Graduates of MAUS are expected to develop expertise in the following:
  • Urban planning, policy, and the environmental imbrications of urbanisation
  • Specialised knowledge of particular urban sector(s) through electives, internship project, studio and dissertation (e.g. water, waste, housing, transportation etc)
  • Field methodologies and analytical skills, including PRA, questionnaires and interviews, and quantitative analysis
  • The capacity to produce high-quality original writing and visual communications
  • The ability to collaborate with peers and wider publics by accomplishing tasks as part of teams

Programme Structure

MA Urban Studies will be transacted over four academic semesters and one summer intersession. It consists of two foundation courses (total of 8 credits), four core courses (16 credits), two courses on research methodology (8 credits), and electives (total of 12 credits). Apart from taught courses, programme requires students to earn 20 credit worth of guided research work in the form of a 4-credit Internship, a 4-credit Studio project, a 2-credit Writing Workshop and a 10-credit Dissertation/Action Research component.

Required Courses

1. Transformations in Society and Space

Equips students with an understanding of social, environmental and political change across history. It is innovatively designed to begin a conversation on global history while building geographic literacy. Each unit looks at a particular social formation and the typology of space it produces (eg. plantation, port, mining town, Fordist manufacturing region, the Special Economic Zone).

2. Power, Justice and Discrimination

Prepares students to think about power, justice and discrimination as interconnected fields. The course considers how the question of distribution and discrimination has radically transformed the traditional, retributive or punitive idea of justice. Students are familiarised with the basics of contemporary normative debates on power and justice including the feminist distinction between an ethic of justice and an ethic of care.

3. Understanding the Urban

Familiarises students with ideas basic to urban studies as well as contemporary debates, and lies at the intersection of disciplines like sociology, political science, planning, geography and history. The material engages with theories of how urban space is produced and transformed, with the use of concepts such as suburbanisation, gentrification, extended and planetary urbanisation, southern urbanism, and world cities.

4. Space and Experiences

Systematically locates the urban experiences of the Global South within a wider perspective while focusing on the lived and designed aspects of urbanism. Includes discussions around informality, subaltern urbanisation, heritage, urban design, and the city in literature and the arts.

5. Urban Planning and Policy

Builds an understanding of the principles, tools and techniques through which planning and policy view and shape urban processes and places. Also considers the shifting policy frameworks (colonial, post-independence, recent and future-oriented ones) and their lives and afterlives on the ground.

6. Urban Environment and Ecology

Focuses on the ecological imbrications and environmental impacts of the urban process. Themes covered in the course include peri-urbanisation and land cover change, urban ecology, waste, pollution and health, environmental governance and justice.

7. Research Methodology

Two research methodology courses induct students into the traditions of research, and build capacities for the generation and analysis of diverse kinds of data, from the numerical to the qualitative. Techniques include cross tabulations, measures of central tendency, index numbers, PRA, questionnaire schedules and interviews, and ethnographic methods.

Electives on offer may include: Infrastuctures and Finance; Urban Agriculture; GIS; Gender and Urbanisation; Urban Health and Well-being.

Field-based learning in 2018-2019 included transects in different housing settlements of Delhi; documentation of land-use change in peri-urban Ghaziabad; study of work and infrastructures in Gurgaon/Manesar; study of planning, design and lived experiences in Chandigarh/Mohali; research on urban services, housing and environmental concerns in Bhopal.

In the Studio, students research the nature of an urban concern from different vantage points, identify and delineate the various aspects of the problem, bring their training in planning, policy, and ecology to bear on participatory methods, and collaboratively design an intervention that loops back before finalisation.


Foundation courses

Core courses

Elective courses

Research skill & practicum



Transformations in Society & Space (4)

Understanding the Urban (4)


Research Methodology-I (4)


Power, Justice & Discrimination (4)



Space & Experiences (4)


Research Methodology-II (4)


Urban Planning and Policy (4)

Urban Environment & Ecology (4)





Internship (4)





Electives (4)

Studio (4)


Electives (4)

Electives (4)



Writing Workshop (2)


Dissertation/Action Research (10)










Any bachelor's degree with at least 45% marks (or an equivalent grade) from a recognised University (relaxation of 5% of marks for candidates belonging to ST/SC/PwD Categories). Candidates appearing for the final year examination of a degree can also apply.



Core Faculty

  • Anna Zimmer
  • Pritpal Singh Randhawa
  • Rachna Mehra
  • Rohit Negi

Contributing Faculty

  • Anil Persaud
  • N. Nakkeeran
  • Partha Saha
  • Sunalini Kumar
  • Surajit Sarkar

Fee Structure

Admission Procedure

Selection will be through a written examination (75%) followed by an interview (25%). The written examination will include General and Geographical Knowledge, Logic and Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and question(s) based on a pre-circulated text, to be uploaded on the website at least a week before the examination. All applicants must appear in both the written exam and the interview to be eligible for admission. Total number of seats: 42; Reservations norms of Government of NCT of Delhi will apply.

Admission Updates

Online Application Form