The Master’s Degree in Critical Urbanisms at the University of Basel is an English-taught four-semester program created to train a new generation of graduates to think beyond the dichotomies of urban versus rural and North versus South, with a view to addressing the complexity of urban lifeworlds in the twenty-first century. The program is led by an internationally renowned faculty who work on cities and territories from a global perspective. The curriculum is structured around an interdisciplinary research studio where students work together, combining methods from the humanities and social sciences with visual and spatial analysis. In the second semester, students can choose between study and fieldwork at the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities, or a year-long course in anthropological fieldwork methods, including a field trip to the African continent.

Focal areas of teaching and research

The program is administered by faculty members of Urban Studies and the Departement of Social Sciences. Students also benefit from a close collaboration between the University of Basel and the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities.

Taken in the first and third semesters, the research studio immerses students in collaborative interdisciplinary research practice that combines methods from the humanities and the social sciences with visual and spatial analysis and representation. Jointly taught by core and affiliated faculty and supplemented by regular visits from external experts, the studio takes place in a dedicated studio space that serves as a laboratory in which small teams of students from different disciplinary backgrounds can work closely together. Students work on a range of outputs, from essays to illustrated booklets, maps and diagrams, photographic projects, videos, and installations. This material is compiled and edited for public presentation as the collective outcome of the research studio.

The second semester offers students fascinating opportunities to explore and discuss various aspects of urban life. Research focuses primarily on cities in African and broader global southern context as crucial sites for the analysis of everyday forms of agency central to contemporary urbanisms. Fifteen students will have the opportunity to spend a semester at the University of Cape Town, where they will focus on African urbanisms. Due to limited availability, a place at the University of Cape Town cannot be guaranteed. Alternatively, students can take a year-long course in anthropological fieldwork methods at the University of Basel, which includes a field trip to the African continent during the winter break.

Members of the Urban Studies faculty teach seminars and lecture courses on a variety of urban topics designed to equip students with in-depth knowledge of specific disciplinary approaches. Students may also take elective courses from the broad range on offer at the University of Basel (e.g. in African studies, anthropology, and through the research network Cultural Topographies), as well as at the University of Cape Town.

The study program concludes with the master’s thesis, an independent, academically rigorous project in which students identify a research problem in a given area of urban studies. Although the thesis is submitted in writing, students are encouraged to supplement their written work with a practice-based and/or visual component to present their findings to a broader audience.

The MA in Critical Urbanisms is taught in English. It is aimed at both international and Swiss students in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. It is also likely to be of interest to academically qualified professionals from the fields of architecture, urban planning, and environmental management. As the application process for a study permit for non-EU citizens can take up to four months, and this process can only be started once a letter of admission has been issued, we highly recommend that students submit their complete application as early as possible.

Program structure

A master’s is a second degree that a person can earn after completing a bachelor’s and requires 120 credit points (CP) in total. The Master's Degree Program in Critical Urbanisms is a single-major degree, which means that no other subjects are studied to achieve the 120 CP. One ECTS credit point equates to approximately 30 hours of work.

This master’s degree program can only be started in the fall semester. 

Critical Urbanisms
Degree program

Combination of subjects

This master’s degree program does not include a second degree subject.

Career opportunities

The program prepares students for careers in a variety of national and international settings, from research institutions to local, regional, and national government planning offices, development aid organizations, NGOs, architecture and design firms, museums, urban planning and policy offices, international organizations, universities, and consultancy firms. 

Students will be equipped and are also encouraged to continue their studies at the PhD level to pursue an academic career.

This master’s degree program can only be started in the fall semester. 

Master’s admission requirements

Admission to master’s programs is regulated by the university student regulations, dated September 28, 2011, and the stipulations of the individual degree program descriptions. More details of the general master’s admission requirements are provided here.

For students to be admitted with no additional requirements, they must hold a bachelor’s degree worth 180 CP from a higher education institution recognized by the University of Basel.

Subject-related requirements are defined in the admission requirements (section 3) of the study program for the relevant subject. The guidelines may also contain further useful information that is key to successful studies.

Registration dates

Students must register for their bachelor’s or master’s degree program within a specified timeframe – even in cases of delayed registration.

Information events

The University of Basel organizes regular information events for bachelor’s and master’s programs. Details can be found on the events page of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. 
Some subject areas also offer their own separate information or welcome events. Please consult the page for the relevant subject area for event dates and locations.

Master’s examination & degree


Deadlines and dates for master's studies (see data sheets at Dokumente und Merkblätter)

From the fall semester 2019, the revised framework regulations for the Master of Arts will apply. Registration for the master's thesis is independent of registration for the master's examinations. It is now also possible to examine only one subject per session, i.e. the two master's examinations can be divided into two sessions (attention: only for master's degree subjects, it is not possible to separate the two examinations for study programs). New registration deadlines apply for the master's examinations, these have previously taken place at the same time as the registration for the master's thesis.

From the registration in spring semester 2019 onwards, the same acceptance and submission date (last date of the registration deadline) will apply to the master's thesis for all students.

Master’s thesis

Semester takeover, submission 

Takeover SS 2018, submission SS 2019 (old Master's regulations)

Takeover FS 2018, submission FS 2019 (old / new Master's regulations)

Takeover SS 2019, submission SS 2020 (old / new Master's regulations)

Takeover FS 2019, submission FS 2020 (new Master's regulations)

Registration form available from



08.04.19 07.10.19

Application Master’s thesis



07.05. - 23.05.19 05.11. - 21.11.19

Takeover date



23.05.19 21.11.19
Submission date expired individual 22.02.20 20.08.20
Submission of Master’s thesis confirmation form 07.02. - 28.02.19 04.08. - 27.08.19 by 27.02.20 at the latest by 27.08.20 at the latest
Review submission by lecturers 3-week rule 20.12.19 (for the first time 6 weeks before end of semester) 19.06.20 18.12.20
Notification of grades by 13.06.19 at the latest by 31.01.20 at the latest by 31.07.20 at the latest by 31.01.21 at the latest
Review inspection1 18.06. - 22.08.193 14.01. - 13.02.20 16.06. - 21.08.20 19.01. - 12.02.21
Master's examinations for students of the degree subject and program


SS 2019 (old Master's regulations)

FS 2019 (old / new Master's regulations)

SS 2020 (old / new Master's regulations)

FS 2020 (new Master's regulations)

Application forms (degree subject / program) available from



04.02.20 01.09.20

Application deadline for examination


17.09. - 26.09.19

18.02. - 27.02.20 15.09. - 24.09.20

Examination session

23.05. - 29.05.19 (Thu, Fri, Mon, Tue, Wed)2

16.12. - 20.12.19

25.05. - 29.05.20 14.12. - 18.12.20
Notification of grades 13.06.19 13.01.20 15.06.20 18.01.21
Application for MA degree documents


SS 2019

FS 2019

SS 2020

FS 2020

Application deadline for degree

18.06. - 22.08.193

14.01. - 13.02.20

16.06. - 23.07.20 19.01. - 12.02.21

Graduation ceremony



12.09.20 27.03.21


1 At the same time as the application deadline for degree.
2 Due to public holidays on 30.5. and university-wide free days on 31.5., exams are already held on Thursdays and Fridays of the second last week of the lecture period.
3 Summer break from 12.07.19 up to and including 05.08.19.
All data subject to subsequent changes.

Academic advice

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