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Make a difference – Solve real-world problems

Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics

You apply for the one-year master Spatial, Transport, and Environmental Economics. Later that year you may specialize in one or a combination of the following fields:

Urban and Regional Economics

This specialization is about the good (e.g. high wages) and the bad (e.g. high crime) of cities and regions. For example, why are some cities thriving, while others struggle? What types of firms and people cluster in space, and why? What does economic theory teach us about policy challenges that metropolitan areas face, such as crime, social segregation, housing affordability, traffic congestion and environmental pollution? How can you use and further develop techniques, methods and tools in this field?

Transport Economics

What are the causes and consequences of a growing demand for mobility from a microeconomic perspective? How can we address problems such as congestion, reliability, safety, and environmental externalities? For example, what are the implications of market power in network markets such as aviation and public transport, and how should we address these in transport policy? How should cars be optimally taxed? Is there a way to stimulate drivers to avoid peak hours, in order to take the pressure off the roads?  Does Uber increase or decrease the use of public transport?

Environmental Economics

What are the economic aspects of environmental problems and policy? How can you combine scientific and policy expertise? How can you address the need to integrate economics with insights from other disciplines, notably the environmental sciences? For example, to what extent are environmental taxes too low, and why? Why would countries want to join the Kyoto Protocol or the Sofia Protocol? What role could trade sanctions play herein?

Real Estate Economics and Finance

How do real estate markets function? More specifically, how does price determination work in these markets, and how are portfolios managed? What is the impact of land use regulation, transport infrastructure, and public policy on real estate price dynamics? What is the relationship between real estate and its location?

The start date of this programme is September 1st.

Which specialisation do you choose?

Find out what the different possibilities are within the master's programme

Summary

This master’s programme focuses on the economic dimensions of local, regional, and global environmental challenges, the use and depletion of natural resources, and the role of market-based policies to incentivize the adoption of environmentally friendly practices and technologies. These questions are important both for improving the sustainability of our current living standards and for fighting the devastating effects of climate change. The programme discusses how government and society can rise to the challenge of managing environmental quality, natural resources, and the energy transition effectively. 

Some examples of fundamental questions that we discuss are: What policies can best address pollution and other negative consequences of economic activities? What characterizes efficient exploitation of renewable resources (such as forestry and fishery) and non-renewable resources (such as fossil fuels and minerals), and how does this differ from a free-market outcome? How do environmental policies induce innovation, and what role do technology policies play in environmental regulation? How can climate policies avoid being undone by the unintended consequences of market responses like “carbon leakage”, the “rebound effect” or the “Green Paradox”?

The master's programme equips the students with the state-of-the-art of academic economic insights to analyse and answer such questions and provide them with an evidence-based foundation.

In the courses, we take a predominantly microeconomic perspective and apply state-of-the-art theory and econometric techniques. Hence, this high-quality one-year programme offers students the knowledge and practical skills to tackle complex problems at a high level of abstraction, while emphasizing the need to translate theoretical solutions and empirical evidence into clear-cut policy advice. You will learn techniques to measure the value of natural resources and the costs and benefits of pollution abatement, including analytical models as well as stated preference and ”revealed preference” methods. You will study the challenges of regulating greenhouse gas emissions, including issues of taxation, international trade, and the design of international environmental agreements such as the Paris Accord. You will learn to evaluate intertemporal tradeoffs in managing natural resources, carbon budgets, and technological change. The role of market-based incentives and behavior-based “nudges” in improving environmental and societal outcomes will also be discussed. Economic models will be substantiated by teaching the latest empirical findings in economic literature.

For more information, please consult our study guide.

Summary

On average, households in the Netherlands spend no less than about 30% of their income on real estate. Also, the prices of commercial properties are sky-high. Real estate prices heavily fluctuate, over both time and space. Prices in Amsterdam are, for example, many multiples above real estate prices in more peripheral areas.

How do real estate markets function? This is the main theme that the Real Estate specialization addresses.  More specifically, how does price determination work in these markets, and how are portfolios managed? What is the impact of land use regulation, transport infrastructure, and public policy on real estate price dynamics? What is the relationship between real estate and its location? In the Real Estate specialization, you acquire the theoretical and empirical knowledge to answer all these questions.

This specialization trains you to become a real estate professional, for which there is high demand in the industry. The specialization is embedded in the master Spatial, Transport & Environmental Economics. In this master, students develop the skills to analyse large (spatial) datasets. Although real estate markets have become global, there are major differences between local real estate markets.  A thorough understanding of real estate dynamics, therefore, requires an integrative view from both a financial, economic and spatial perspective. The interrelationship of the Real Estate specialization with the Urban & Regional Economics and/or Transport economics specialization offers you this unique possibility.

Summary

This specialization focuses on the economic dimensions of transport, traffic, mobility and accessibility. Some examples of fundamental questions that we address: how can we address pressing societal challenges such as congestion, and the associated pressure on urban environmental quality? How can we maintain the accessibility of regions and cities, and meet global environmental pressure from transportation? What are the spatial and economic aspects of these challenges? How can we analyze them from an economic perspective, and how can economics help in analyzing, evaluating and formulating policies to address these?

The master's programme equips students with the state-of-the-art of academic economic insights to analyse and answer such questions and provide them with an evidence-based foundation.

In the courses, we take a microeconomic perspective and use applied econometric techniques. Hence, this high-quality one-year programme offers students the theoretical knowledge and applied methodological skills to tackle complex problems at a high level of abstraction, while emphasizing the need to translate theoretical solutions into clear-cut evidence-based policy advice.

Summary

This specialization focuses on the economic dimension of regions, urban areas and real estate. Some examples of fundamental questions that we address: why and where do which types of people and firms increasingly want to cluster in space? Why do some cities thrive, while others struggle? What does economic theory teach us about policy challenges that metropolitan areas face, such as crime, segregation, traffic congestion and environmental pollution? How is the growth and decline of cities impacting the building stock? What are the consequences of spatial planning for a region's development potential? What are the costs and benefits of constructing ‘green’ buildings?

The master's programme equips the students with the state-of-the-art of academic insights to analyze these and related policy questions and provide them with an evidence-based foundation.

In the courses, we take a microeconomic perspective and use applied econometric techniques. Hence, this high-quality one-year programme offers students the theoretical knowledge and applied methodological skills to tackle complex problems at a high level of abstraction, while emphasizing the need to translate theoretical solutions into clear-cut evidence-based policy advice.

  • Environmental Economics

    Summary

    This master’s programme focuses on the economic dimensions of local, regional, and global environmental challenges, the use and depletion of natural resources, and the role of market-based policies to incentivize the adoption of environmentally friendly practices and technologies. These questions are important both for improving the sustainability of our current living standards and for fighting the devastating effects of climate change. The programme discusses how government and society can rise to the challenge of managing environmental quality, natural resources, and the energy transition effectively. 

    Some examples of fundamental questions that we discuss are: What policies can best address pollution and other negative consequences of economic activities? What characterizes efficient exploitation of renewable resources (such as forestry and fishery) and non-renewable resources (such as fossil fuels and minerals), and how does this differ from a free-market outcome? How do environmental policies induce innovation, and what role do technology policies play in environmental regulation? How can climate policies avoid being undone by the unintended consequences of market responses like “carbon leakage”, the “rebound effect” or the “Green Paradox”?

    The master's programme equips the students with the state-of-the-art of academic economic insights to analyse and answer such questions and provide them with an evidence-based foundation.

    In the courses, we take a predominantly microeconomic perspective and apply state-of-the-art theory and econometric techniques. Hence, this high-quality one-year programme offers students the knowledge and practical skills to tackle complex problems at a high level of abstraction, while emphasizing the need to translate theoretical solutions and empirical evidence into clear-cut policy advice. You will learn techniques to measure the value of natural resources and the costs and benefits of pollution abatement, including analytical models as well as stated preference and ”revealed preference” methods. You will study the challenges of regulating greenhouse gas emissions, including issues of taxation, international trade, and the design of international environmental agreements such as the Paris Accord. You will learn to evaluate intertemporal tradeoffs in managing natural resources, carbon budgets, and technological change. The role of market-based incentives and behavior-based “nudges” in improving environmental and societal outcomes will also be discussed. Economic models will be substantiated by teaching the latest empirical findings in economic literature.

    For more information, please consult our study guide.

  • Real Estate Economics and Finance

    Summary

    On average, households in the Netherlands spend no less than about 30% of their income on real estate. Also, the prices of commercial properties are sky-high. Real estate prices heavily fluctuate, over both time and space. Prices in Amsterdam are, for example, many multiples above real estate prices in more peripheral areas.

    How do real estate markets function? This is the main theme that the Real Estate specialization addresses.  More specifically, how does price determination work in these markets, and how are portfolios managed? What is the impact of land use regulation, transport infrastructure, and public policy on real estate price dynamics? What is the relationship between real estate and its location? In the Real Estate specialization, you acquire the theoretical and empirical knowledge to answer all these questions.

    This specialization trains you to become a real estate professional, for which there is high demand in the industry. The specialization is embedded in the master Spatial, Transport & Environmental Economics. In this master, students develop the skills to analyse large (spatial) datasets. Although real estate markets have become global, there are major differences between local real estate markets.  A thorough understanding of real estate dynamics, therefore, requires an integrative view from both a financial, economic and spatial perspective. The interrelationship of the Real Estate specialization with the Urban & Regional Economics and/or Transport economics specialization offers you this unique possibility.

  • Transport Economics

    Summary

    This specialization focuses on the economic dimensions of transport, traffic, mobility and accessibility. Some examples of fundamental questions that we address: how can we address pressing societal challenges such as congestion, and the associated pressure on urban environmental quality? How can we maintain the accessibility of regions and cities, and meet global environmental pressure from transportation? What are the spatial and economic aspects of these challenges? How can we analyze them from an economic perspective, and how can economics help in analyzing, evaluating and formulating policies to address these?

    The master's programme equips students with the state-of-the-art of academic economic insights to analyse and answer such questions and provide them with an evidence-based foundation.

    In the courses, we take a microeconomic perspective and use applied econometric techniques. Hence, this high-quality one-year programme offers students the theoretical knowledge and applied methodological skills to tackle complex problems at a high level of abstraction, while emphasizing the need to translate theoretical solutions into clear-cut evidence-based policy advice.

  • Urban and Regional Economics

    Summary

    This specialization focuses on the economic dimension of regions, urban areas and real estate. Some examples of fundamental questions that we address: why and where do which types of people and firms increasingly want to cluster in space? Why do some cities thrive, while others struggle? What does economic theory teach us about policy challenges that metropolitan areas face, such as crime, segregation, traffic congestion and environmental pollution? How is the growth and decline of cities impacting the building stock? What are the consequences of spatial planning for a region's development potential? What are the costs and benefits of constructing ‘green’ buildings?

    The master's programme equips the students with the state-of-the-art of academic insights to analyze these and related policy questions and provide them with an evidence-based foundation.

    In the courses, we take a microeconomic perspective and use applied econometric techniques. Hence, this high-quality one-year programme offers students the theoretical knowledge and applied methodological skills to tackle complex problems at a high level of abstraction, while emphasizing the need to translate theoretical solutions into clear-cut evidence-based policy advice.

Why study Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics?

Hans Koster is Professor of Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. "The unique thing of this master is that you can learn about the interactions between the environment and cities."

What does the year look like?

First semester

This time period provides you with a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of economic theory and research methods. After 6 weeks, you select at least four core and/or optional courses, two of which to be followed in the first semester. The programme offers you the possibility to specialize in various combinations of urban and regional, transport, environmental, and real estate economics. The first semester is concluded with a research project, during which you write a literature review of a coherent set of academic papers.

Second semester

In the second semester, you continue taking core and/or optional courses. The lion’s share of the second semester is devoted to writing a Master’s thesis. You write your thesis individually while participating in a thesis seminar, in which students present and discuss their research findings. Although an internship is not obligatory, you may combine your thesis with an internship. Our teaching staff can help you find a suitable place.

Why Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics?

  • A unique master's programme: the only one in the world that offers an integrated view on urban/regional issues, transport, real estate, and the environment from an economic perspective
  • Excellent career prospects. Most graduates find jobs within 3 months as policy economists with (inter)national government agencies or consultancy firms, or at organizations such as airlines or railway operators – and are better paid than graduates from other economic programmes. Some pursue a career in economic research. 
  • The teaching staff includes internationally renowned professors such as Carolyn Fisher, Erik Verhoef, Hans Koster, Jos van Ommeren and Henri de Groot. They are often consulted by the government and actively participate in policy debates in the media.
  • The master's programme offers a scholarship (Piet Rietveld Scholarship) for one excellent student originating from Indonesia.
  • Research of the School of Business and Economics is number 1 in the Netherlands when it comes to quality, societal relevance, and viability.

Piet Rietveld Scholarship

The Piet Rietveld Scholarship was established by the School of Business and Economics and the Department of Spatial Economics in memory of the late Professor Piet Rietveld (1952-2013), Head of the Department of Spatial Economics in the years 2002-2013. The master's programme offers a yearly single scholarship for an excellent student in the programme originating from Indonesia. 

  • Value 

The scholarship covers the yearly tuition fee, and provides an allowance of € 3000 towards living costs. 

  • Deadline 

1 April (each year) 

  • Fields of study 

Eligible candidates should be admitted to the Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics master’s degree programme at VU Amsterdam. 

Note that successful applicants for the scholarship must have a minimum level of English in order to obtain a visa. 

  • How to apply 

Send a CV, a Grade List, and a Letter of Motivation to the following e-mail address: h.koster@vu.nl.

Please apply simultaneously for admittance to the master's programme, insofar as you have not done so already.

Change your future with the Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics programme

Change your future with the Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics programme

After completing this master, you have the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to tackle complex problems at a high level of abstraction, keeping in mind the need to translate theoretical solutions into clear-cut policy advice. The contents are firmly rooted in economics, but shed light on the multi-disciplinary nature of many real-world policy questions. You can become policy economist or researcher in government of consultancy organizations, or you can become a PhD student.

Explore your future prospects
freeway by night

Want to know more about the programme?

Get in contact with the progamme directly

streem.sbe@vu.nl