Curriculum Overview

The MUSPP programme integrates three core focus areas to provide a comprehensive educational experience:

• Urban Theory Core Course provides students with a foundation in critical thinking about cities and the trajectories of urban development.
• Urban Data and Methods Core Courses equip students with quantitative and qualitative social research methodologies. The thematic elective track in Urban Analytics Track supplement the core methodology courses with elective courses in Geographic Information Science (GIS), Behavioural Science, and interactive data visualization.
• Urban Planning and Policy Core Courses teaches students to critically understand the bases of planning and policy in society, assess, analyse, and craft urban interventions and programmes that are thoughtful to multi-dimensional urban dynamics.

Course Overview

Required Courses

This course exposes students to foundational theories and key socio-economic processes and trends that have given shape and meaning to urban development across a number of time periods and cultural contexts. Through an emphasis on the historical and future drivers of change in cities, students will relate theories of the social and physical evolution of cities to structural change, social and political movements, technological advancements, and public policy that impacts urban systems more generally.

Instructor: Jeffrey Chan
Time: Thursday (3-6pm)
Venue: Think Tank 23 (2.413)

Week 1: Introduction: What is urban theory?
Week 2: (Groundings) Capital and the City
Week 3: (Groundings) The Neoliberal City
Week 4: (Groundings) The Informal City
Week 5: (Perspective) The City of Strangers
Week 6: (Perspective) The City of Conflict
Week 7: Recess Week
Week 8: (Perspective) The City of AI
Week 9: (Vision) The Serendipitous City
Week 10:(Vision) The Sharing City
Week 11: (Vision) The Ethical City
Week 12: Workshop session—Writing Research Papers on the Built Environment
Week 13: Conclusion and Review of Group Presentations
Week 14: Conclusion and Review of Group Presentations (if required)

The Urban Data & Methods component of the MUSPP is composed of two courses – Part 1 on Analyzing Urban Futures and Part 2 on Interpreting Urban Trends: Urban Inequity, which will be taught in Term 1 and Term 2 respectively. The collective aim of these two courses is to equip students with methods and tools to undertake urban research and analyze urban trends that can inform the crafting of interventions for a better urban future. A key focus of the courses is deepening the understanding and skills to handle both quantitative and qualitative data, secondary and primary datasets through desktop and fieldwork. A major emphasis of the courses is learning to apply social science methodologies and tools to the study of the urban realm.

Instructors: Xin Yang, Jose Rafael Martinez Garcia, Felicity Chan
Time: Wednesday (10am-1pm)
Venue: Think Tank 23 (2.413)


Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Different research methods of qualitative enquiry
Week 3: Conducting Interviews and focus groups: In-depth, semi-structured, structured.
Week 4: Applying Ethnographic Methods
Week 5: Power Dynamics and reflexivity
Week 6: Doing Online Fieldwork
Week 7: Recess week
Weeks 8 and 9: Qualitative Data Analysis: Documenting (Transcribing), Analysis (Coding), Interpretating, Writing


Week 10: Urban Indicators
Week 11: Demographic Profiles and Census Data
Week 12: Population Projections
Week 13: Economic Analysis
Week 14: Presentations and Wrapping Up

This course introduces the historical and contemporary bases of urban planning as a process and practice, with a focus on developing a socio-spatial mind in approaching urban interventions critically and practically. It is designed to equip students to understand the scope of urban planning in the development of cities and regions, and how urban planners think and make decisions about land use and design of public places to meet social, economic, political, and environmental goals.

A core pedagogic aim of the course is the emphasis of how theories and histories of planning relate to practice. For this purpose, a 4-week planning and design studio is incorporated into the course to offer students the opportunity to experience the thought-process of an urban planner when planning and designing intervention for a study site. In addition to this, some assignments are crafted to get you off the armchair and into the urban plazas, streets, and neighborhoods to look, sense, and experience the intricacies in the formation of urban life. Students will learn how to conduct neighborhood research and analysis.

As part of the integrative MUSPP programme curation, this course will help students learn about how the urban realm is scientifically studied and forms a part of planning research that informs urban planning and policy decisions.

Instructor: Felicity Hwee-Hwa Chan
Time: Tuesday (10am-1pm)
Venue: Think Tank 23 (2.413)

Week 1: Introduction: What is urban?
Week 2: Setting the Context: Urbanization and Urbanism
Week 3: Emergence of Modern Urban Planning
Week 4: Socio-spatial Thoughts and Implications for Urban Planning
Week 5: Case Study: Urban Planning in Singapore
Week 6: Looking at a City In Flux
Week 7: Recess week
Week 8: Urban Planners in action: Cultures, Values, Politics, Institutions
Week 9: Designing Urban Form to shape Urbanism
Week 10: Site Analysis and Planning
Week 11: Studio: Figuring out the Site Parameters
Week 12: Studio: How to design for Inclusion and Diversity
Week 13: Studio: Workshop Review
Week 14: Studio: Project Presentation

Electives (1)

This course focuses on the use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in the urban context, applying GIS tools and techniques for analysing, modelling, and visualizing geospatial data in urban environments. The most fundamental concepts and techniques in GIS and spatial data analysis are covered in this course, including data collection, data management, and data visualization. Additionally, specific applications of GIS in the urban studies will be taught, namely participatory mapping, basic space syntax segment modelling, and isovist analysis.

Students will learn about the principles of participatory planning and how participatory mapping data can be collected and utilised in this context. We will particularly focus on public participation geographic information system (PPGIS) as a participatory mapping method. Segment modelling will also be taught to analyse pedestrian and vehicular accessibility, while isovist analysis will inform assessments of spatial visibility affecting perceptions of safety, privacy, and navigation.

The course is delivered as a combination of lectures and hands-on exercises. Students will get to practice methods covered in the lectures during the hands-on portions and practice geospatial problem solving through a project at the end of the course.

Instructors: Kamyar Hasanzadeh and Francine Chan
Time: Monday (12-2pm), Venue: Online (Think Tank 23, 2.413)
Time: Thursday (12-2pm), Venue: iDiaLab (2.605)
Time: Friday (2-5pm), self-study (iDiaLab, 2.605)

Week 1-A: Introduction to GIS
Week 1-B: Working with spatial data models
Week 2-A: Cartographic Design
Week 2-B: Hands-on session GIS: Basics of GIS and cartography
Week 3-A: Spatial statistics and analysis of vector data
Week 3-B: Hands-on session GIS: Working with vector data
Week 4-A: Spatial analysis of raster data
Week 4-B: Hands-on session GIS: working with raster data
Week 5-A: Space syntax: Segment Analysis in Space Syntax
Week 5-B: Hands-on session Space Syntax (I)
Week 6-A: Space syntax: Visibility Analysis in Space Syntax
Week 6-B: Hands-on session Space Syntax (II)
Week 7: Recess Week
Week 8-A: Problem solving with GIS
Week 8-B: Hands-on session: Solving geospatial problems using GIS
Week 9-A: Participatory planning
Week 9-B: Digital tools for participatory planning
Week 10-A: Introduction to Public participation GIS (PPGIS)
Week 10-B: PPGIS data acquisition
Week 11-A: Preparation of PPGIS data
Week 11-B: Hands-on session – PPGIS: Designing a map-based surve
Week 12-A: Analysis of PPGIS data
Week 12-B: Hands-on session – PPGIS: Working with data in Maptionnaire
Week 13-A: Knowledge discovery and scientific reporting
Week 13-B: Hands-on session Project (I)
Week 14-A: Hands-on session Project (II)
Week 14-B: Presentations

This course provides students in technology and design with comprehensive knowledge on finance for urban development and management by introducing a range of terms, vehicles, instruments, schemes, and implementations along theoretical frameworks and real-world scenarios. The entire course work consists of three large sections: (I) public challenges; (II) private initiatives; and (III) social technologies. This means that the topics of urban finance covered by this course are not only the fundamentals of conventional government finance for public resource allocation, social wealth distribution, and market stabilization (e.g., market failures, public goods, tax policy, intergovernmental transfers, fiscal decentralization, and interjurisdictional coordination) but also the advancements of unconventional corporate, entrepreneurial, and social finance for competitive and sustainable urbanization (e.g., project finance and public-private procurement strategy, international financial markets and institutions, urban climate and green finance, land marketization and land value capture, real estate investment and asset securitization, and financial technology). The course takers are expected to acquire both hard and soft knowledge on urban finance through a few basic analytical exercises and international case studies for broader social applications and cooperative actions across sectors.

Instructor: Jin Murakami
Time: Monday (3-6pm) or Thursday (8.30-11.30am)
Venue: Think Tank 26 (2.514)

Week 1: Overview

Week 2: Public Goods & Public Finance
Week 3: Fiscal Decentralization & Municipal Finance
Week 4: Megaproject & Public Project Evaluation

Week 5: Privatization & PPP Models
Week 6: Corporate Finance & ESG Criteria
Week 7: No Class – Recess
Week 8: International Financial Markets & Institutions

Week 9: Revenue Generation Schemes
Week 10: Real Estate Investment & Securitization
Week 11: Green Infrastructure & Climate Finance
Week 12: FinTech, Microfinance, SME Inclusion

Week 13: Final Presentation
Week 14: Final Paper Submission & Follow-up Actions

The term “resilience” has been applied in various fields, including ecology, biology, psychology, urban planning, and international politics. This course examines the theoretical framework and practical application of resilience building within the dimension of urban planning and policy.

The course can be divided into two main sections: introductions to climate change, disaster, and adaptation; and thematic topics of vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience. Topics include climate change, vulnerability, justice, governance, participatory planning, local knowledge, and community resilience. In addition to discussing concepts, techniques, and tools, case studies with a reflective focus will be used to describe a variety of opportunities and challenges facing precarity. As a research seminar, students will be active participants through photography presentations, oral discussions, fieldwork, and analytical essays to reflect and present the depth and breadth of knowledge and insights to the class on resilient cities.

Instructor: Cai Yanjun
Time: Tuesday (3-6pm)
Venue: Think Tank 23 (2.413)

Week 1: Course Outline and Introduction
Fundamentals of Climate Change: Principles, Directions, & Impacts
Week 2: Facing Disaster
Week 3: Vulnerability
Week 4: Adaptation
Week 5: What is Resilience
Week 6: Toward Community Resilience
Week 7: Recess Week
Week 8: Participatory Climate Resilience
Week 9: Resilience and Resistance
Week 10: Social Capital and Resilience
Week 11: Disaster Social Media
Week 12: Entrepreneurship and Resilience
Week 13: Planning Resilient Cities
Week 14: Visioning Resilience & Class Reflections

Required Courses
This course is Part 2 of the Urban Data & Methods module. The course seeks to develop students’ hands-on experience in developing a research proposal to study an urban issue or phenomenon. This involves conducting literature review, applying theories, designing data collection and analysis methods, and integrating into a mix-methods research proposal. Using urban inequity as a focal point, the course introduces and contextualises how different methodologies – quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods – can be used to analyse urban inequities within and across cities. It develops understanding and skill in the collection, analysis and interpretation of information relevant to inequity and how it affects urban societies from different points of view such as transportation and housing. Students will also learn how to address research ethics requirements.

By the completion of this course students will be able to:
• Understand key methods for analysing quantitative and qualitative data in urban development
• Develop a research question on urban inequity that is well informed by the literature review
• Propose data collection and analysis methods relevant to answer the research question
• Synthesis the above into a research proposal

02.521 Urban Data and Methods: Analyzing Urban Trends

Instructor: Xin Yang, Rafael Martinez, Felicity Chan
Time: Monday (3-6pm)
Venue: Think Tank 11 & 12 (1.503)

Week 1: Introduction to Urban Inequities
Week 2: Measuring Quality of Life: Theories and Quantitative Methods
Week 3: Transportation Equity: Theories and Quantitative Methods (Part 1)
Week 4: Transportation Equity: Theories and Quantitative Methods (Part 2)
Week 5: Housing Equity: Theories and Quantitative Methods (Part 1)
Week 6: Housing Equity: Theories and Quantitative Methods (Part 2)
Week 7: Recess week
Week 8 – 10: Urban Inequities and Qualitative Methods
Week 11: Introduction to Mixed Methods Research
Week 12: Doing Truthful and Quality Urban Research
Week 13: Presentation of Research Proposal

Singapore has been recognized as a successful and well-managed global city in numerous international rankings of cities. In particular, it is often used to illustrate the importance of good leadershjp and planning in urban development. This course will help students understand how Singapore approaches its urban challenges, such as housing, transport, environmental degradation, job creation and the management of diversity. Through the careful examination of these empirical, Singapore-specific issues including visits to relevant agencies and organizations, broader questions that will have direct relevance to the development processes of other cities will be raised.

Electives (2)

*Electives are not fixed and are subject to availability during term

This course is designed specifically for MUSPP students to answer the question “how do I make a smart city work?”, as they embark on related careers in industry, government, and academia. The course, linking smart urbanism theory and practice, will help students make sense of the many definitions and conceptualizations of a ‘smart city’. It will equip students with an understanding of the different domains and stakeholders in the smart city, and help them choose a more deliberate strategy in how urban issues can be addressed in ‘smart’ ways. It will trace the evolution and development of smart cities, as well as the technologies, systems, and urban infrastructure that underpin them. The case for and the criticisms against smart urbanism will be examined, with a strong emphasis on the human and social dimensions. The impact of emerging economic and societal trends, such as the discussions on digital economies, digital societies, sustainability, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), will be explored in relation to smart cities.

Instructor: Thijs Willems and Poon King Wang
Time: Wednesday (10am-1pm)
Venue: Think Tank 11 & 12 (1.503)

Week 1: Introduction and definitions. What is a ‘smart city’?
Week 2: Comparing smart cities. Case studies and the role of history and culture
Week 3: The case for, and the case against smart cities
Week 4: The role of humans and stories; Oral history lecture (guest lecture)
Week 5: Smart cities and infrastructures
Week 6: Smart cities and the digital economy
Week 7: Recess Week
Week 8: Smart cities and governance (guest lecture)
Week 9: Smart cities and the ‘good’ city
Week 10: Singapore as Smart Nation (field visit)
Week 11: Smart cities and…?
Week 12: Smart cities and your oral history interview (Make up class for 10 April)
Week 13: Oral history presentation and submission (National Archives)
Week 14: Feedback and reflection session

The Anthropocene [Greek: Anthropos: man; cene: new; dawn] has been proposed as the subsequent geological epoch after the Holocene. As the ‘Age of Mankind’, the Anthropocene heralds a time when human activities have become sufficiently impactful to alter Earth’s biosphere and its planetary dynamics. In the Anthropocene, design is anticipated to play even larger and more important roles. But what are these roles? And what are the new categories (or frontiers) of design that will be demanded by the Anthropocene? And how might the ‘Anthropocene condition’ (Purdy) then in turn transform design?

In this course, the emerging relations between design and the Anthropocene will be explored and examined. Existing design theory will first be introduced, and subsequently explicated in relation to the Anthropocene through seven emerging topical issues: (i) designing with living systems I (human beings or human systems); (ii) designing with living systems II (more-than-human agencies and other ecosystems); (iii) open systems, intergenerational systems, and incomplete design; (iv) large-scale sociotechnical systems I: Smart Cities; (v) large-scale sociotechnical systems II: Artificial Intelligence; (vi) large-scale sociotechnical systems III: Climate change adaptations; and finally, (vii) design ethics.

Instructor: Jeffrey Chan
Time: Thursday (8.30am-11.30am)
Venue: Cohort Classroom 12 (2.406)
Week 1: Introduction: What is Design (in the Anthropocene)?
Week 2: The Impacts of the Anthropocene on Design
Week 3: First Generation Design Theories: Staged Theories, Information Processing and Optimization
Week 4: Second Generation Design Theories: Wicked Problems, Uncertainty and Indeterminacy
Week 5: Topical Issue 1: Designing with Living Systems Part 1: Human Agencies
Week 6: Topical Issue 2: Designing with Living Systems Part 2: ‘More-than-Human’ Agencies and other Ecosystems
Week 7: Recess Week
Week 8: Topical Issue 3: Designing Open and Incomplete Systems
Week 9: Topical Issue 4: Designing Large-Scale Sociotechnical Systems Part 1: Smart Cities
Week 10: Topical Issue 5: Designing Large-Scale Sociotechnical Systems Part 2: Artificial Intelligence
Week 11: Topical Issue 6: Designing Large-Scale Sociotechnical Systems Part 3: Climate Change Adaptations
Week 12: Topical Issue 7: Design Ethics
Week 13: Conclusion and Review of Group Presentations (for the first half of the students)
Week 14: Conclusion and Review of Group Presentations (for the second half of the students) [if needed]

This course teaches students the concepts, skills and techniques of online, interactive map design and data visualization. In doing so, it covers both the modern web development workflow and Javascript programming. These fundamental programming tools and techniques are mastered in an applied context of designing and building interactive visualizations. Apart from a foundational understanding of the building blocks of the modern web (HTML, CSS, Javascript), students learn to build visualizations using industry-standard Javascript libraries such as Leaflet and D3 through a series of lab-based assignments and projects. The course keeps a focus on the entire iterative design workflow throughout the semester and culminates in a final group project in which a sequence of prototypes leads to a final online, interactive data visualization.

Instructor: Chan Chi-Loong
Time: Tuesday (9am-12pm)
Venue: Think Tank 26 (2.514)

Cities are the most complex of all human inventions. While majority of the world’s population live in cities, we know comparatively little about how we influence and are influenced by cities. Urban psychology operates in an interdisciplinary context as an application area of psychology in cities, exploring human perception, decision-making, and behaviour. This course will introduce urban psychology and its application to different urban issues, including health and well-being, sustainability and resilience.

Instructor: Samuel Chng
Time: Tuesday (9am-12pm)
Venue: Think Tank 11 & 12 (1.503)

Week 1: Introduction to Urban Psychology I
Week 2: Introduction to Urban Psychology II: Social Psychology
Week 3: Introduction to Urban Psychology III: Environmental Psychology
Week 4: Introduction to Urban Psychology IV: Health Psychology
Week 5: Introduction to Urban Psychology V: Transdisciplinary
Week 6: Urban Psychology in Practice – Why?
Week 7: Term break
Week 8: Urban Psychology in Practice – What?
Week 9: Urban Psychology in Practice – How?
Week 10: The Complexity of Human Behaviour in Cities
Week 11: Data, data, data: Communicating findings effectively
Week 12: Moving from ideas, to theories, to data, to practice
Week 13 & 14: Conclusion and project presentations

Community engagement is applied in diverse fields, including urban planning and design, architecture, community development, public health, and ICT development. This extensive application mirrors the growing demand to understand people’s insights and needs as well as to empower them. In light of this emerging pattern, this course addresses fundamental questions pertaining to community engagement, including What is community engagement? Why is it necessary? Who should participate? How can it be effectively implemented and evaluated? This course examines interdisciplinary theories and case studies from Singapore and around the world, which sheds light on the principles, historical contexts, complexities, and hopes associated with community engagement in the realm of urban planning and design, and community development. The course content includes a variety of materials, such as interactive lectures, group exercises, fieldwork, analytical writings, and presentations, all designed to provide students with frameworks and tools for critically examining community engagement across diverse settings.

Instructor: Yohei Kato
Time: Tuesday (3-6pm)
Venue: O Lab (2.415)

Week 1: Course Outline and Introduction: What Does Community Engagement Mean to You?
Week 2: What is Community and Engagement?
Week 3: Why Do We Need Community Engagement?
Week 4: Who Should We Engage with?
Week 5: How Do We Engage?
Week 6: How Do We Evaluate?
Week 7: Recess week
Week 8: Examining International Community Engagement Cases
Week 9: Community Engagement in Singapore: Guest Lecture
Week 10: Fieldwork: Community Engagement in Action
Week 11: Community Engagement and Empowerment
Week 12: Community Engagement and Sustainability
Week 13: Final Project Presentation
Week 14: Class Reflections

Required Courses
The final term is dedicated for students to complete a Masters Research Project. Students have a choice of two tracks: Group Research Project or Individual Research Project. Students will have to declare their chosen track by the middle of Term 2. More details on the Master Research Project will be shared in Term 2.