Urban Systems Engineering

A thesis track in the discipline Urban Systems Engineering enables students to carry out research on technological aspects related to the management of energy, water and materials in urban settings by either focusing on individual components or taking an integrated approach.

More about this thesis track

The ever increasing urbanisation in combination with the depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation pose a major challenge to the professionals in the field of urban environmental management worldwide. Their contribution is called upon to ensure that resources are used wisely, resilience of natural systems is guarded, and the benefits for the city dwellers are distributed equitably. The diversity in terms of urban typologies and scales of intervention require creative and flexible solutions that are appropriate to these different settings. Professionals in the field of urban systems engineering develop and implement suitable technologies, infrastructure and management systems that enable recovery of resources, close energy, water and materials cycles, create a healthy urban environment, and thereby contribute to the quality of urban living.

These studies comprise questions concerning:

  • Resource flows (energy, water, and materials) through cities and surrounding rural areas;
  • Development of new appropriate technological solutions responding to specific urban environmental challenges;
  • Integration of elements from different systems for optimization of resource use (for example, the co-treatment of sludge from septic tanks and municipal organic waste);
  • Development of tools for strategic technology assessment and selection based on sustainability criteria;
  • Application of the tools in selection of sustainable infrastructure and/or management schemes for specific cities;
  • Integration of environmental technologies into the design of urban spaces at different scales (building, neighbourhood, district, city).

Depending on the focus of the chosen research, the major thesis in Urban Systems Engineering can be co-supervised by staff of the Environmental Systems Analysis (ESA), Environmental Policy (ENP), Land Use and Planning (LUP) or other groups. Students can learn more about the education and research related to this discipline by visiting the website of the Environmental Technology Group.


The following courses are part of the programme Urban Environmental Management when selecting the thesis track Urban Systems Engineering. Next to these thesis specific courses, you will follow courses from the common part and electives as summarized in the programme outline. For more information visit the study handbook or contact the study adviser.

Thesis track-related subject
Subject Code
Urban Energy, Water and Nutrient Cycles ETE34306
Resource Quality in the Circular Economy ETE34806
MSc Thesis Urban Systems Engineering ETE81836
MSc Internship Urban Systems Engineering ETE70724
Compulsory unless your study adviser indicates differently:
Basic Technologies for Urban Environmental Management ETE25306
Restricted Optional: Select at least two
Planning for Urban Quality of Life LUP23806
Governance for Sustainable Cities ENP36806
Managing Urban Environmental Infrastructure ETE32806
Planning and Design of Urban Space ETE33806

In order to prepare well for your thesis track, you can additionally choose supporting courses. These courses focus, for example, on quantitative and data sciences. You can find the exact list in the study handbook at the section "Restricted Optionals (2) in Common part"

This course overview is based on the Wageningen University study handbook, where you can find a more detailed course and programme description. The study handbook is guiding in case of any discrepancy.

Below you can see how your schedule might look like for your whole study programme:

MSc Urban Environmental Management - Urban Systems Engineering