Master of Science in Geography

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1 Master of Science in Geography Specializations: Earth and Climate City, Society and Space GIS and Spatial Modelling INTERUNIVERSITY PROGRAMME Faculty of Science

2 The Master of Science in Geography is a two-year advanced study programme jointly organised by KU Leuven and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). This inter university Master s programme offers comprehensive training in approaches to social geographical and/or natural geographical phenomena. It aims to provide a deeper understanding of geographical problems and methods, knowledge of theoretical debates within the discipline and practical training in the use of geographical techniques. The overall aim of the programme is to train geographers to play active roles in contemporary society. Since excellence in education is based on and nurtured by excellent research, KU Leuven and VUB have joined forces in this joint degree programme. All students carry out an individual research project and benefit from the programme s strong emphasis on research. By being part of a professional research team, students are presented with a valuable opportunity to learn and develop scientific skills. In many cases, students spend several months abroad for fieldwork and data collection within the framework of their Master s thesis. The programme is taught entirely in English and offers three specializations: Earth and Climate City, Society and Space GIS and Spatial Modelling Earth and Climate: this specialization focuses on terrestrial ecosystems and environ - mental changes, emphasising timely and relevant research topics in the geosciences like global warming, ice-climate interaction, soil and water conservation, long-term landscape development, natural hazards and risk assessment. In this specialisation you will gain a deep under standing of land surface and atmospheric processes shaping the physical environment and acquire quantitative skills for analysing and modelling the dynamics of these processes. You will also learn to independently define and carry out research projects in geosciences and develop a synthetic vision on environmental issues, at local, regional and global scales. City, Society and Space: in a strongly urbanised world there is a growing need to better understand social, economic, cultural, and political dynamics of urban areas. This specialization focuses on the multifaceted issues that cities are experiencing in the current era of globalisation. During your study, you will be introduced to key urban social and economic theories and become familiar with critical views on urban development. In the interdisciplinary spirit of urban studies, you will have the chance to engage with and integrate insights from key debates in urban planning and design, housing and real estate markets, tourism and regional development, and many more. Moreover, you will be trained in qualitative and quantitative research methods that will allow you to analyse contemporary urban dynamics in a synthetic and rigorous way. GIS and Spatial Modelling: within this specialization you will become acquainted with new approaches and techniques for acquiring, managing, analysing and mapping spatial data. Based on your skills in spatial data handling and your background in both natural and human sciences, you will be trained in analysing complex interactions between man and environment and in the application of spatial decision-making mechanisms. As an expert in geodata processing and spatial modelling you will get the opportunity to improve your knowledge in important application fields of geo-information science, including natural resource management, spatial planning, mobility and transportation. Alternatively, you can also opt to include a two-month GIS internship in your study programme.

3 Research Departments This highly competitive programme is jointly offered by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at KU Leuven and the Department of Geography at VUB and is firmly rooted in current research at both universities. Both departments continuously develop and maintain innovative and internationally recognised research programmes on fundamental and applied aspects of the geosciences, covering a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. These generally involve international collaborative efforts, and both departments participate in various international research networks. Within the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at KU Leuven geographical research activities are focused on: Earth surface processes and climate: feedback mechanisms between human activity on the one hand and the biophysical functioning of the Earth system are being examined at different spatial and temporal scales. The focus is on natural and anthropogenic erosion processes, sediment fluxes, biogeochemical cycles, geo-archaeology and surface-atmosphere interactions using high-resolution regional climate models. Society and Space: research focuses on a better understanding of socio-ecological and socio-economical relationships both in urban and rural contexts. At the macro level it is being explored how large institutions shape our society, the use of natural resources and the corresponding space. At the micro-level the impact of the built environment design on the daily life of people is researched. Specific attention is being paid to spatial marginalization and exclusion, the operation of the real estate industry, the development of space-related indicators and the simulation of the spatial behaviour of individuals. Tourism: the research in this area focuses on the sustainable development of tourism with particular attention to the impact of tourism on society and the environment, both in the developed world and in developing countries. Specific research topics are the detection of trends in tourism supply and demand, heritage tourism, urban tourism and sustainable tourism policy. Education in the geosciences: the way in which students of secondary schools, as well as students in geo-science programs, use and interpret spatial data and themes, is being studied.

4 Research in the Department of Geography at VUB, is focused on: The dynamics of glacial systems: evolution of icecaps (Antarctica, Greenland), global warming, global climate models and the study of glaciers The study of hazardous geomorphological and volcanological processes: in developing countries, with a specific attention to volcano geomorphology, volcano-tectonic processes and landslides Small-scale cartography and map projections: distortion in map projections, development of new projection systems with minimal distortion and selection and development of map projections for specific applications Remote sensing: land-use/land-cover mapping and monitoring of urban areas, change detection, multi-sensor image interpretation, hyperspectral remote sensing, machine learning, uncertainty in image classification, impact of uncertainty on spatial models and spatial decision making Geography of world cities: residential patterns and residential segregation, structure and mechanisms of the housing market, migration, demographic transitions, evaluation of urban development projects, urban cultural policy, sustainable neighbourhood development, urban image building and the position of Brussels in the European urban network Objectives The Master of Science in Geography aims to develop the analytical and synthetic abilities necessary for understanding the scientific and social aspects of environmental problems, and this from a national, a European and a global perspective. Students will be taught integrated approaches to the relation between society and environment and will be equipped for careers as geographers. Career options include basic and applied geographical research as well as science communication and teaching. The Master s thesis emphasises research activities and the acquisition of advanced knowledge and skills. Admission requirements Holders of the following degrees are eligible for direct admission to the programme: Bachelor (of Science) in de geografie The master programme requires a broad basic knowledge of the natural and social sciences, as well as a broad introduction in geography. All international applications will be thoroughly examined according to the required prerequisites. An admissions committee will evaluate applications before the end of June. Students for whom English is not a native language are required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS certificate. Minimum scores: TOEFL (Computerbased test 233 pt., Internet-based test 90 pt., Paper-based test 575 pt.) or IELTS (7 pt.). More information on the admission requirements can be found on the programme s website.

5 Programme The full programme comprises 120 ECTS. In addition to core courses (27 ECTS), students take the compulsory courses within their chosen major (33-34 ECTS) as well as a number of specialised electives within the same field (minimum ECTS). The remaining 30 ECTS are allocated to the Master s thesis. Courses are taught at KU Leuven s Arenberg Campus in Heverlee and at the VUB campus in Etterbeek. A joint degree will be awarded upon the successful completion of the programme. For detailed descriptions of this programme s courses and for the course timetable, please consult MASTER OF SCIENCE IN GEOGRAPHY 120 ECTS COURSE ECTS COMMON BASIS 27 Human-Environment Interactions 15 Environmental Change KU Leuven 6 Society Environment Interactions KU Leuven 3 Geography of Globalisation VUB 6 Research Methods in Geography 12 Geographical Research Methods 1: Earth Observation VUB 3 Geographical Research Methods 2: Survey and Data Analysis KU Leuven 3 Geographical Research Methods 3: Numerical Modelling KU Leuven 3 Research Seminar VUB 3 SPECIALIZATION Students choose one of the specializations. Earth and Climate Physical Geography Field Trip Abroad KU Leuven 3 Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere KU Leuven 3 Dynamics and Modelling of Glacial Systems VUB 6 Atmospheric Modelling KU Leuven 6 Natural Hazards VUB 3 Tectonics and Geomorphology KU Leuven 6 River Geomorphology KU Leuven 3 Soil and Water Conservation KU Leuven 3 City, Society and Space Social and Economic Geography Field Trip Abroad KU Leuven 3 Housing KU Leuven 3 Geographies of Mobility and Transportation KU Leuven 3 Economic and Financial Geography KU Leuven 6 Space, Society and Policy KU Leuven 3 Urban Political Ecology KU Leuven 3 Urban Social Geography KU Leuven 6 Cultural Urban Geography VUB 3 Urban Studies KU Leuven 4 GIS and Spatial Modelling Spatial Databases KU Leuven 3 Spatial Data Infrastructures KU Leuven 6 GIS Programming VUB 6 Modelling Land Use Changes KU Leuven 6 Advanced Earth Observation Techniques VUB 6 Natural Risk Management VUB 3 Choice between Physical Geography Field Trip Abroad or Social and Economic Geography Field Trip Abroad KU Leuven 3 STRENGTHENING COURSES Students choose one module (15) in their specialization and complete their program by selecting courses from the other module, the other specializations or from a list of elective courses. Earth and Climate Module Development Geography of Developing Countries KU Leuven 6 Natural Risk Management VUB 3 Biological Production Systems in the Tropics KU Leuven 6 Module GIS and Earth Observation Advanced Earth Observation Techniques VUB 6 Spatial Databases KU Leuven 3 Modelling Land Use Changes KU Leuven 6 City, Society and Space Module Urban Planning Theory of Urban Planning and Design VUB 3 Landscape 2 VUB 3 Strategic Spatial Planning KU Leuven 6 History of Urban Design VUB 3 Module Tourism Culture and Tourism KU Leuven 3 Destination Development KU Leuven 9 Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Development KU Leuven 3 GIS and Spatial Modelling Module Geo-application Development GIS Internship KU Leuven 15 Module Space and Policy Natural Resource Economics and Policy KU Leuven 5 Space, Society and Policy KU Leuven 3 Urban Political Ecology KU Leuven 3 Geographies of Mobility and Transportation KU Leuven 3 MASTER S THESIS 30

6 Discover KU Leuven Situated in Belgium, in the heart of Western Europe, KU Leuven has been a centre of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium's largest and highest-ranked university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. As a leading European research university and co-founder of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), KU Leuven offers a wide variety of international master s programmes, all supported by high-quality, innovative, interdisciplinary research. Since its founding, KU Leuven has been based in the city that shares its name. Leuven is a pleasant, safe and bustling student town, where centuries-rich history meets cuttingedge science. The university also offers degree programmes at campuses in 11 Belgian cities, including Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp. Vrije Universiteit Brussel The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is the offshoot of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles, which was founded in 1834 by a Brussels lawyer with Flemish origins, Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen. He wanted to establish a university that would be independent from the state and the church and where academic freedom would reign. Although some courses at the ULB s Faculty of Law were already taught in Dutch in 1935, it was not until 1963 that almost all faculties offered courses in Dutch. In October 1969, the Dutch-speaking university finally split from its French-speaking counterpart. At present, VUB offers quality education to over 9,000 students. Career outlook Geographers study the interaction between human societies and their environments, characterise the resulting regions and localities and analyse the spatial distributions and processes of particular natural and human phenomena. As both a natural science and a social science, the discipline of geography integrates the study of physical and human environments. Thus, geographers have long applied integrated and multidisciplinary approaches to solve real-world problems on all spatial scales from the local to the global. There is a growing demand for qualified professionals in the field of geo-sciences. As a graduate of this interuniversity Master of Science in Geography programme, your skills will be highly sought after by surveying companies, mapping agencies, service and utility providers and public entities, as well as by international and national administrations dealing with urban and rural land-use planning, disaster management, environmental conservation and management. Graduates considering a career in research or education can pursue a PhD upon completion of the programme. TUITION FEE: 890 (regular fee)

7 KU LEUVEN Oude Markt 13 box LEUVEN, Belgium Learn more General information Publications Faculty of Science KU Leuven prof. dr. G. Verstraeten Programme Director Geography tel Administrative Office tel fax wet.kuleuven.be/masters VUB prof. dr. Matthieu Kervyn Vakgroep Geografie tel WE Administrative Office VUB tel we.vub.ac.be prof. dr. E. Mathijs Head of Department Earth and Environmental Sciences tel This brochure provides the most complete and accurate information available concerning this master s programme offered at KU Leuven. However, amendments to the composition of this programme may be approved at any time. Consequently, KU Leuven is in no way legally bound by the information provided in this brochure. The most recent information on all our academic programmes can be consulted at Last updated: March 2015 v.u.: Isabelle Van Geet, Oude Markt 13, 3000 Leuven

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