• Application Deadline
  • 12 months
The Master of Human Settlements provides you insights into the challenges and opportunities of worldwide settlements in an era of rapid change. It seeks to expose you to the multi-faceted challenge of contemporary human settlements, from multi-disciplinary and multi-scalar perspectives. You will develop a critical and interpretative approach towards developing your own position within the field.


The Master of Human Settlements addresses rapid urbanisation in the developing world and contemporary urban transformations.  Architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture and spatial planning are the core disciplines underpinning the programme.

Contributions from economics, geography and anthropology, among others, complement the core, prepares you to better understand the interplay of human and natural ecosystems. The programme thrives from its truly international body of students and the faculty’s long-standing research expertise in worldwide contexts.  

Programme outline

The structure is organized around:

  • Compulsory courses
  • Optional courses
  • Design studios
  • Thesis (research- or design-based)

The design studios form a significant component of the programme. They are organised as two full days of work on Mondays and Tuesdays providing an intensive and immersive working environment, such as is the norm in most professional practices. A balance between teamwork and individual contributions is developed and students are subdivided into small, mixed groups from the outset.

Core courses are directly related to studio practice: one selects a more research-oriented trajectory, a research thesis can be developed in line with a specific programme profile and supporting courses.


  • The Postgraduate Centre for Human Settlements (1976-2005) is now absorbed into the International Center for Urbanisms: Settlements & Environments (ICU). ICU has intertwined  educational and research activities which studios draw on to scenario building to realities on the ground. The MaHS programme boasts a broad network of alumni who actively collaborate in design studios and theses.
  • The quality and quantity of visiting faculty and international speakers, either as part of lecture series, studio juries and/or showcase events such as Belgian Urbanisms (January) or World Urbanisms (June), provides a state-of-the-arts global knowledge base.
  • Fieldwork is a fundamental component of studio work. The first semester studio is based on a Belgian site, while the second semester offers European and non-European sites.  
Career perspectives

The programme produces interdisciplinary graduates capable of understanding and managing the complexity of urban development as well as promoting sustainable territorial transformations. The MaHS programme's graduates find employment across numerous and widespread areas.

Many of our alumni work as civil servants in urban development agencies in cities or national governments. Others are independent professionals in the field of urban design, planning, and community development. Yet others join private architecture or urban design offices or take on in leadership and policymaking positions in regional, national, and international human settlements institutions, such as UNCHS or UEPP. A small number of graduates continue the academic trajectory by obtaining a PhD.

The Human Settlements programme is offered at KU Leuven.

Questions about student life in Belgium, life at KU Leuven or more information about a specific course? Chat with our students: www.kuleuven/be/chatwithourstudents.

Programme Structure

Compulsory Courses

  • Theory and Practice of Urbanism since 1945
  • Human Settlements in Development
  • Studio Urban Fabrics
  • Urban Studies
  • Critical Review of Sustainable Development Policies and Planning

Master's Thesis

  • Written Thesis
  • Master's Thesis: Studio Landscape Urbanism

Optional Courses

  • Geomatics for Urbanism and Spatial Planning
  • Independent Study
  • Economic and Sustainability Aspects of Architectural and Urban Design
  • Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Development and Cultures
  • Modernity and the Architecture of the City, Part 1
  • Urban Anthropology
  • Landscape Urbanism
  • Colonial & Postcolonial Urbanism
  • Culture Philosophical Topics in Architecture and the City
  • Housing
  • Urban Political Ecology
  • Modernity and the Architecture of the City, Part 2
  • Cultural Anthropology: Material Culture
  • Strategic Spatial Planning


The programme aims to provide insight into the problems of Human Settlements as related to rapid change and to the interaction between modernity and tradition, formal and informal city-making. It also aims to strengthen capacities to tackle the growth of spontaneous settlements and the design of large scale projects in a complex urban context with up-to-date insights and techniques. 

Detailed Programme Facts

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

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  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL®PBT is administered in a paper format and measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write in English while performing academic tasks. Read more about TOEFL®PBT.

    Schedule TOEFL®

General Requirements

Admission decisions are based upon evaluation of a complete application file:

  • Master of Architecture (obtained outside the Flemish Community)
  • Master of Engineering: Architecture
  • Bachelor of Architecture (after 5 years of study)
  • A letter of motivation and, if possible, a portfolio clearly demonstrating the applicant's sound professional intentions and relevant experience
  • Proof of English proficiency
For more information, please visit the homepage of the programme.

Tuition Fee

  • International

    6000 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 6000 EUR per year and a duration of 12 months.
  • EU/EEA

    6000 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 6000 EUR per year and a duration of 12 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Leuven

  • 810 - 1280 EUR/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Check the programme website for information about funding options.

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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Human Settlements
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