Double perspective on sustainable urban development

Joint degree master’s programme at TU and Vietnamese-German University

2019/06/07

TU Darmstadt is offering its first joint degree master’s programme, which will start in the winter semester 2019/20. "Sustainable Urban Development" (SUD) will be jointly supported by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sciences at TU Darmstadt and the Vietnamese-German University in Ho Chi Minh City. Professor Hans-Joachim Linke from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sciences explains what prospective students need to know about this special master's degree programme.

What is the background of the “Sustainable Urban Development” course?

TU Darmstadt has been presenting the SUD course at the Vietnamese-German University (VGU) in Ho Chi Minh City since 2012. It was launched by means of a so-called ”flying faculty", which involves professors flying over to Vietnam for four weeks to deliver a series of teaching events which are then taken over by Vietnamese colleagues in the medium term. So, the new joint degree master’s programme is the successor to the SUD course, which was only delivered in Vietnam.

What exactly is SUD?

The idea is to train managers for urban development who will oversee projects and be capable of integrating different processes and initiating developments. The students of both universities study the degree course together over two semesters (2nd and 3rd). We accept applications from civil engineers, architects, urban planners, sociologists, political scientists and graduates with comparable bachelor’s degrees. The final objective of the course is to produce a concrete project for urban development in Ho Chi Minh City, one in which real development processes will take place so that students will apply the methods and knowledge they have learned directly. Of course, language is also an issue: the entire course will be delivered in English. In addition, the students will have to deal with different cultures. So, for example, how does something work in your own country and how does it work elsewhere?

What are the benefits of the joint degree master’s programme for students, also compared to students who study exclusively at the TU?

The obvious advantage is that, from the very beginning, the focus will be on an international topic, which will not only be discussed in theoretical terms but also worked on in a practical context. This means that the modules offered will have a lot of practical relevance. Rather than focusing exclusively on the theory, we also teach practical methods for managing projects of this kind, and apply them directly. Naturally, the various aspects of the course have to be structured in such a way as to impart a variety of methods by the end of it with which the students will be able to continue to work. One task in one of the first modules will be to describe what actually constitutes a city, and not only in terms of buildings, people, existing institutions and infrastructures: the students should acquire a feeling for what goes on in cities, what they are all about and how they change over time. Finally, I would like to emphasise that, as a small degree course, the SUD will be distinguished by the close supervision provided.

What career prospects will the graduates have?

The goal is primarily to prepare them for careers in management in any number of specific roles – both at home and abroad – for example, in public authorities, municipal administrations or with private investors. Other potential employers include such international advisory institutions as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank or the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Professor Hans-Joachim Linke from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sciences. Picture: Katrin Binner

Further information:

“Sustainable Urban Development” will be jointly supported by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sciences at TU Darmstadt and the Vietnamese-German University in Ho Chi Minh City. Prospective students can apply either to the VGU or to the TU Darmstadt.

Students who apply to TU Darmstadt will spend their first semester at the TU Darmstadt; those who apply to the VGU will begin with an initial semester at the VGU. All students will study together at the TU Darmstadt in the second semester before moving as a group to the VGU for their third semester. The Master's thesis can be written at whichever of the two universities offers the best conditions for the chosen project.