Master/Doctoral Student Thesis Seminar „Urban Studies“

SE Seminar / Semesterwochenstunden 2.0 / ECTS 3.0

***This course will be offered by Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein with guest lectures by Prof. Dr Katharine McKinnon (Australia), Prof. Dr. Ali Madanipour (UK) and Prof. Dr. Fran Tonkiss (UK)***

TISS course: 280.645


After successful completion of the course, students are able to structure their diploma or master thesis with spatial or urban research relevance project self-confidentially. They have learned about different elements of a research design as well as about the basic connection between research question, research hypothesis and choice of methods.

ii. AIMS

The Seminar is offered to doctoral students and advanced master students in urban studies (“Stadtforschung”) and related disciplines, with the overall aim of providing an opportunity for the students to discuss their thesis projects as additional support in the development of their research theories and methods. Course participants will also get in touch with the important theme and tool of international scientific debates in urban studies through a punctual involvement with the C.A.R.E Conference: Cities, Action, Research and Education which will be hosted by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space at TU Wien between 20th and 22nd November 2019. Students will read related literature, attend three keynote lectures of internationally acknowledged scholars and will also carry out video/audio interviews with keynote lecturers as part of the courses methods training.

The main part of the course is organized through informal group discussions of the students’ research projects. In particular, the seminar aims to help the students critically review, clarify, and receive constructive feedback on their own research projects, their aims, objectives, concepts and methods; learn about a range of theories and methods in urban research; develop the capacity for and engage in critical assessment of similar research projects; develop a friendly and supportive group of researchers who can benefit from knowing about each other’s work during the seminars and even afterwards.

Contemporary urban theory has developed apace over the last decade to consider the complex urban processes and issues that have risen as a result of globalisation, diversification of the economy, socio-demographic shifts, neo liberal political agendas, migration and growing concerns around the environment amongst many other salient issues. Urban studies now concerns itself also with new theoretical agendas which focus on questions of theorizing everyday life and discussing emerging epistemologies of collective acts of appropriation of (public) urban space. The seminar will have a particular emphasis on urban culture and public space, but contributions on other subjects are eligible. Master and doctoral students at any stage of their work from architecture, spatial planning, and more widely from social sciences, humanities and the arts, who are researching into urban issues are welcome to attend.


The seminars will be interactive, delivered through several concentrated blocks in the winter semester. Lecturers will offer short intro lectures á 30min on salient issues of thesis writing, e.g. research design, research strategies, urban studies, planning theory, thesis writing, etc. After a general introduction and depending on the number of attending students, each participant will be allocated a 20-minutes slot, in which his/her work is discussed in the group by other students and by lecturers. The students will prepare a text of 4-6 pages about their research and upload it on the course website at least 10days in advance to their presentation slot, so that the teaching team and fellow students can read it in preparation for the session. In their allocated slot, the students first present their work (approx. 10 minutes), describing the subject of their research, their aims and objectives, their theoretical framework, their research methodology, and the results of their work so far. Students will be expected also to relate their research to contemporary urban theory through selected readings visits from the designated course text and through the above mentioned participation in keynote lectures. The group will then engage in a discussion about these points with the students, helping to clarify and develop the research design, questions, hypotheses, concepts and methods of the research project. The nature of the seminars is developmental, designed to help the students with constructive feedback. Furthermore, participants will benefit from the range of issues that are covered and discussed. The development of a friendly group atmosphere is an essential part of the course, and so it is important that all participants attend all the sessions and engage in supportive discussion of one another’s work.

The seminar will be held in blocked format on the following dates…

3rd October 2019, 11 am until 3pm

U1        Seminar Kick-Off, Students presenting themselves and their thesis projects

U2        Short Lecture Thesis Writing  or Urban Studies


25th October 2019, 1:30 til 4pm

U3 +4     Group Work: Preparing tasks for conference visit and interviews


20th to 22th November: International Urban Studies Conference C.A.R.E Cities, Action, Research and Education. Keynote Lecturers/ Guest Lecture Inputs

U5        20th Nov 19, 10am Guest Lecture Katharine McKinnon: Care(full) Community Economies and the Praxis of Being in Common (TUtheSky Lounge)

U6        21st  Nov 19, 5pm Guest Lecture Ali Madanipour (TUtheSky Lounge)

U7        22nd  Nov 19, 9am Guest Lecture Fran Tonkiss (Kontaktraum Getreidemarkt)


25th November 2019, , 9 am til 3pm

U8        Short Lecture Feminist Epistemology & Methodology: Implications for research

U9        Individual presentations 3+4+5

U10       Group Work: Post-Conference Documentation: Reflecting on research methods and interview          



23rd  January 2020, 9 am until 1:30am

U11        Individual Presentations 6+7+8

U12      Individual Presentations 9+10+11+12

U13       Closing Session: Feedback and Debate



The course will benefit from engaged face-to-face feedback methods in urban studies which combine blended learning (e.g. digital lecture inputs) with face-to-face interaction, formal presentation and also informal debating rounds. We follow an interest-based approach to learning and therefore start from individual thesis projects (or first ideas about choosing a theme for diploma or master thesis) and develop teaching along your themes, interests and motivations. By using an international urban studies context to engage with international scholarly debates in urban studies and planning theory, we combine selected readings with international keynote lecturers and the intensive training of interviewing and other research techniques.


Criteria for evaluation: Deepness of analysis, engagement in the debates, reflection and self-reflection, creating an own position, ability to take criticism, ability to carry out research methods in an international conference context and prepare a thoughtful and engaged documentation of a video or audio-taped interview.


  • Individual thesis project preparation, presentation and debate, including exposé of 4-6 pages provided 10 days in advance to the unit when the individual presentation is scheduled, 10 minutes formal presentation in the seminar room, and commenting on all other exposés (1-2 paragraphs) prior to the slot when they are presented (50%)
  • Group-based preparation, attendance and documentation of three keynote lectures during an international urban studies conference at TU Wien, including method training in interview (or other) techniques (30%)
  • Participation in course inputs, seminar debates and writing exercises (20%)


The course will be offered in English language to students of planning, architecture, urban design, sociology, political science, geography, urban economics, spatial arts, social design, and further participants with an interest in the field of urban studies. We welcome students from different religions, genders, cultures, professional backgrounds and countries. Students from other universities can register as Mitbeleger for this course.


Students should have started working on their diploma or master thesis project or should have actively engaged with developing a first idea for a thesis project in spatial planning, architecture or urban studies.


Please register via TISS for this course. Further course registration will be carried out directly at the kick-off meeting on 3 October 2019, 11:00 in Augasse 2-6, 2nd floor, Seminar room 3/4.