Smart Sustainable Cities

As more and more people around the world live in cities, it is important we change our cities' dependence on non-renewable energy and (building) materials that are not part of a closed cycle.

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To do this, we need to find and implement sustainable solutions that can easily fit in with the ways in which people live, 'smart solutions' - and you can be part of that process! During the programme, you combine regular course work with a project assignment from one of our external partners.

Useful to know

Start moment September
Number of ECTS 30 Dutch Education System
Programme level Minor
Programme code TIGO-MSSC-18
Language of instruction English
Year of study Year 3 or 4
Practical Matters Housing and Immigration
Location Utrecht Science Park

Course content

What do you need to enter this programme? And what can you expect when you apply? In this section you'll find all you need to know!

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the majority of the world population has lived in urban areas, since cities are attractive places where more and more people want to live, work and relax. Cities are increasingly becoming the ‘engine of our economy’; cities are the creative spots where you can develop yourself; and cities offer art, entertainment, and culture.

However, there are also important challenges for the cities of the future. How do we solve problems related to energy, mobility and waste in the city? How do we ensure that new innovative business will provide sufficient employment in the city? How do we ensure inclusiveness, participation and tolerance in the city? How can we solve that in a smart way, for example with the help of ICT?

These questions challenge us to develop integrated sustainable solutions for economic, social and environmental problems. The future of humankind depends to a great extent on whether we will be able to boost the sustainable development of cities.

Going abroad
During this minor you will get the unique opportunity to go abroad for a short period. You will work on one of the 'Sustainability Challenges' in the municipality of Alcoy (Spain), Turku (Finland), Manchester (UK), Bochum (Germany) or Utrecht. You will have to fund the cost for travel and accommodation.

Would you like to know more about this programme or do you have a specific question? Please contact the programme coordinator, Martijn Rietbergen.

The minor consists of a 15 ECTS course and a multidisciplinary 'Sustainability Challenge' (15 ECTS).

In the general course you will learn more about energy, mobility and circular economy in various workshops, and finally you'll learn how to apply relevant methods and techniques for researching, designing and advising on/about Smart Sustainable Cities. This includes, for example: building blocks for social design, business model canvas, entrepreneurial skills, co-design techniques, research skills. Excursions to best practices are also part of the programme.

During the Sustainability Challenge, you work independently in a team on behalf of a real commissioner (for example the municipality). You will explore the sustainability challenge that they are facing, you will design smart, creative and innovative solutions for this challenge and advise how this can be converted into a viable commercial proposition. You are of course also responsible for the project management. These assignments all have a multidisciplinary character. You can therefore contribute to the solution from your own discipline.

Example projects

Examples of past projects are:

  • Alcoy (Spain): How can a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions from traffic in the city of Alcoy be achieved?
  • Utrecht (the Netherlands): In what way can the Tuindorp-Oost district of the city of Utrecht be converted into an energy-neutral district in 2030?
  • Soesterberg (the Netherlands): How can an autonomous Shuttle bus become a feasible transport option for the Soesterberg area?
  • Utrecht (the Netherlands): How can the municipality of Utrecht utilise their plastic waste in the public space to add value for a circular city?
  • San Jose (Costa Rica): How can the green corridors be developed as inter-urban connections in the San Jose metropolitan area?
  • Turku (Finland): How can the charging system of an electrified public bus network in Turku be arranged in order to contribute efficiently to the carbon neutrality goals?
  • Hanoi (Vietnam): How can the concept of Lighting as a Service be introduced in Vietnam successfully?
  • Manchester (United Kingdom): How can an effective marketing campaign to promote cycling in the Greater Manchester region be designed?

In our Course Guide you can find all relevant information about the programme in one practical document.

This multidisciplinary minor is open to all students who are interested in the development of smart sustainable cities. Your previous education is related to the themes People (inclusiveness, participation, policy), Planet (energy, mobility, circularity), Profit (business models, marketing/communication), or Smart (big data, ICT).

English CEFR level B2.

Please note: You may be asked to take a language assessment test before the start of the programme. If your English language skills are below the required level, you may not be able to enter the course, as you need to be able to actively participate in (parts of) the programme. In all cases, the programme manager makes the final decision.

The minor Smart Sustainable Cities has been developed within the ERASMUS+ project ESSENCE (European Sustainable Solutions for Existing and New City Environments) by the five partners in the CARPE network:

  • TUAS (Turku, Finland),
  • UPV (Valencia, Spain),
  • MMU (Manchester, United Kingdom),
  • HAW (Hamburg, Germany), and
  • HU (Utrecht, the Netherlands).

Check for more information.

Practical information

When you move to a different country to study, there are lots of things to arrange. For instance, where will you live, how much are the costs? Visit our practical information page to help you prepare your stay. It is also important to start arranging a living space as soon as possible. Our housing pages will help you on your way. A student living in the Netherlands needs about € 800 - 1000 a month to cover living expenses, such as housing, food and transportation. This includes insurances – health insurance is mandatory.

Find out how to apply

Ready for an international adventure?

Why choose HU?

  • Be part of the 'smart' solution for cities

    Working on a real-life sustainability problem while gaining theoretical background means you are part of the solution as soon as you start the programme. This background in sustainability will also make you stand out to future employers.

  • Inspiring international setting

    HU supports your ambitions. Our lecturers will tutor and assist you in making the most of this international programme. During your time in Utrecht, you will meet students from all over the world and make connections to last a lifetime.

  • Utrecht Science Park Campus

    Studying at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht means you get to enjoy all the benefits of our modern campus, Utrecht Science Park (USP). A miniature city with the universities' buildings, student housing, restaurants, cafés, a sports centre, and much more, it enjoys excellent transport links to Utrecht and beyond.

  • Vibrant university city Utrecht

    Beautiful Utrecht has lots of young people and excellent facilities for student life. It has a mediaeval city centre which is small enough to explore by foot or bicycle. Enjoy a drink next to the quaint canals or dine in one of the converted wharf cellars.

Three students sitting on the grass on campus with the tram behind them

Interested in our Smart Sustainable Cities programme?

Want to know more?